BRAIN FOOD: Terence Ahern - If I had to start again

BRAIN FOOD: Terence Ahern - If I had to start again - I always wanted to be a partner of a City firm and get to the top - which I managed by my own enterprise. In business, just as in rugby, which I refereed until I was 73, the fundamentals remain the sam

by TERENCE AHERN, an associate of Walker Crips Weddle Beck

I always wanted to be a partner of a City firm and get to the top - which I managed by my own enterprise. In business, just as in rugby, which I refereed until I was 73, the fundamentals remain the same: being fit, good passing and knowing the game from the bottom. Philip Green is a good example of a person who's worked hard, paid attention to detail and knows the bottom of the business as well as the top, as was Lord Weinstock.

Rothschild was once asked how he made a fortune. He said by selling too soon. All these clever boys who lost money on the internet went into the market at the top and should have been selling when they were buying - one reason for the present slump.

As well as knowing economics and accountancy, you've got to know a bit about human nature and observe what goes on in the world. At the time of Big Bang, I made my usual attack on the establishment, saying: 'The old order changes, yielding place to the new.' The opposition tried to brand me a revolutionary but in the end it was borne out by events. Starting again, I wouldn't set up my own business. In the '60s I had a wool-knitting business in Liverpool Street Arcade and I learned one thing: nine times out of 10, those who have a career on the Stock Exchange and then go into business outside don't succeed. And above all, in life, whatever you take out you should endeavour to put something back. Far too many people take something out and put nothing back - which is this country's weakness.

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