Five minutes with David Ferrall

Spend five minutes with CEO David Ferrall and find out where he dreams of riding the endless wave; why you should never try to get the best side of a deal, and what killer whales would like to have for lunch

What do you love about going to work?

Right now, I don’t go to work and I miss it a lot! In all seriousness, I love building a business, and finding cheaper, more efficient processes within the archaic world of finance. I like challenging the status quo and creating new ways of doing things.

Building a start-up was great, I particularly enjoyed the ability we had to explore many different opportunities and see what spins out of them. Now we’re a more mature business, I like that we are still small and nimble enough to pivot quickly toward opportunity, despite being in a highly structured and tightly regulated part of the financial system.

Any business is only as strong as its team of course, and I love that we have a great team of free thinkers and self-starters, who we can give rein to pursue opportunities. For those who have been with us for some time, they took a risk coming on board a new, small business and I’m delighted that their faith in us has paid off.

What is the best career advice you’ve been given?

Always leave something for the next guy. Never try to extract the very last ounce of value, whether you’re talking to investors or partners, don’t try to whittle people down to the lowest common denominator in terms of a deal. Always make sure everyone feels they’re getting a good deal, and that there’s enough margin for everyone.

What advice would you offer others?

Never close your mind to opportunity and different ways of doing things.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I don’t have much spare time running this business, it’s probably a bit sad really but other than family, I honestly haven’t done much apart from FinClear for the past five years – it’s been all consuming. Pre-FinClear I did all sorts of things, including sailing my yacht competitively. I’d like to go sailing again, probably not racing but just for myself. I can see myself cruising around the Med, the Greek islands and the Amalfi coast. One day.

What emerging technology are you excited about?

ASX CHESS replacement and the open architecture facilitating access to data. Ultimately it will lead to a world where multiple layers of fees are stripped away and investors can manage their own investments in their own name on HIN even more easily than they can today.

What book should everyone read?

I’m into books about Antarctic exploration, particularly Ernest Shackleton and  the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–1917. An abject failure as an expedition but a triumph of human endeavour, resilience and leadership.

Shackleton’s Epic by Tim Jarvis is a fabulous read as a modern day re-creation of an extraordinary and possibly greatest survival journey of all time!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Given I’ve been in lockdown, I’d like to live anywhere but where I am now – although hard to complain about being stuck on the northern beaches of Sydney!

What was the best holiday you’ve ever taken?

A family safari to Kruger National Park in South Africa was pretty special. I was highly bemused by the fact that we spent days tracking down African Hunting dogs only to find out they looked like mangy street dogs and smelled like an open pit of hell. Compared to the other majestic animals, they were outstanding in their averageness!

A life changing trip many years ago was spending a couple of months in Antarctica. In the mid-90s I sailed there on a privately funded expedition to build a hut for a couple who were going to live there for a year. We sailed down there on a 60-foot racing yacht, built them a hut, dropped them off and sailed back. There were seven of us going down, five coming back.

I think what struck me most was that the place was teeming with life. You imagine it would be a very barren place, but there is an abundance of whales, seals, penguins and sea birds everywhere you look. I remember a pod of killer whales coming up off the back of the boast and popping their heads out, looking us up and down with their beady eyes and seeming to say “yum, I’d really like to eat you if you’d just please jump into the water.”

If you could wake up one day magically able to play any sport perfectly which would you choose and why?

I think if I had my time again, I’d like to be a really good surfer, because I’m a really crap surfer. I’ve tried so very hard, and I’m just an abject failure! I’d like to step on to a longboard at Byron, on that break that goes from Wategos to Main Beach, and ride the endless wave.