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.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime