You live and you learn: Peter Hargreaves

The Hargreaves Lansdown co-founder on stepping down as CEO, taking criticism and why floating turned out to be the best decision - despite his concerns.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

I love business. I've loved it all my life. On the last day of school, I wrote that I would be a successful businessman. It's all I've thought about since.

The older you get and the wealthier you get, the more complicated life becomes. That's why I have as few material assets as possible. Every material thing you have is more hassle.

You've got to be a complete zombie not to realise the euro's a daft idea. You can't have a currency with the same rate of interest for both Germany and Greece. The only way you can have a common currency is to integrate the commercial system. And that can't happen unless there's a common language - and a common work ethic.

I didn't want to do an IPO. But clients thought we weren't substantial enough and were holding back. Floating was very, very good for us.

I knew my successor would be better than me for the next stage of the company's life. And it was a relief - I'd been doing it for 30 years. My only worry was what the hell I was going to do with my time.

Bosses should welcome dissent - engender it, even. I love criticism. If you look at some of the people who have gone downhill bigtime, it's the ones who would never listen. I don't know every nut and bolt at this firm, so I have to rely on the people that work for me to know.

I couldn't have predicted the business would be worth so much. I could see that we would have this sort of market share, but I didn't realise the numbers would be so large.

I think I've been a moderately good boss. I've made a lot of people extremely wealthy - I think we've created 30 millionaires.

My parents never spent everything they had - and if you've lived in that environment, you don't either. I feel sorry for people like Elton John or footballers, who seem to think they have to spend everything. I want to sit them down and tell them, you don't have to spend it, you know.

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