01/07/2010 - 00:00

Joining the circle of trust no simple matter

01/07/2010 - 00:00


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JAMES Leighton Davis left the bright lights of London for the sunny lifestyle of Perth in 2005.

Joining the circle of trust no simple matter

JAMES Leighton Davis left the bright lights of London for the sunny lifestyle of Perth in 2005.

He had been running a strategy, governance and risk-advisory firm in London with a focus on the financial media industry, advising publications including The Financial Times.

And while moving to Perth to complete a masters in business and develop the professional services company in WA may have seemed simple, Mr Leighton Davis said the ‘inner circle’ of the business community in Perth created a number of challenges.

“I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to re-establish the business here or not or whether I would have to be somewhere where there would be a bigger media presence,” he said of his area of expertise and the Perth market.

“I ended up being able to tweak the business and serve more clients, not just the media.”

Mr Leighton Davis had to expand his industry base – his main clients are now as diverse as education giant Navitas and the Shire of Leonora – but also had to develop new ways of drumming up business.

Nevertheless, he said being an outsider in Perth was fraught with difficulty when setting up a business.

“It is a town that operates on personal relationships more than any other I have come across,” Mr Leighton Davis said.

“Familiarity, so much of business here is done amongst contemporaries, a nod and a handshake. Maybe I am wrong but it seems to me there is kind of an inner group who know each other and work together on most things, recommend each other and so on.

“What I find is I go to functions and you see a lot of people who, even if they didn’t know each other at school, they kind of went to the same school.

“Perth is the sort of town that I don’t think advertising … that sort of thing doesn’t really work in the professional space so much. To succeed here I think you just have to develop those personal relationships.”

Mr Leighton Davis said while it was important to have a solid product in order to create solid long-term client relationships, networking had been instrumental to the creation of client ties.

“Here I have had to start from scratch meeting these people and it takes time. People aren’t going to recommend you on the first meeting, they need to get to know you over a period of time. So the challenge as a newcomer to Perth in the professional services market is really maintaining your business and growing your business while you are trying to establish yourself,” he said.

“You have just got to get out there, it is that simple.

“I am a member of the Institute of Company Directors. I am a sponsor of Charter Secretaries Australia, I am a member at UWA, member of the Liberal Party. You have just got to join things.”

Mr Leighton Davis said while the inner circle was part of Perth’s charm, there were ways for the business community to develop in order to allow exciting new businesses and their owners prosper.

“It would be a shame to lose it [close networks], so I think if Perth can maintain that but also make it easier for interlopers such as myself to become established, then I think it will be really good,” he says.

Mr Leighton Davis has plans to grow the business further – he wants to extend the business to hire four advisers but says there are limits to the growth.

“I have got no plans to take the firm to a massive organisation because part of the reason I moved over here is for lifestyle,” he said.



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