Darren Butterfield is a Manchester fund manager based in London U.K. He has been running the fund for over 4-years and currently has more than GBP 20 million under management. While his firm is relatively smaller than most in London, it is largely built out of personal savings, and has been outperforming most funds year-over-year. Darren short Bitcoin in 2018 and made more than 100% returns on investment. He has also been quite profitable betting big on top tech stocks such as Tesla among others. Darren’s success has a lot to do with hard work, and his solid background in finance. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance and was among the top students in his class.
Upon completing his studies, Darren went on to pursue a number of industry certifications that have deepened his knowledge of the financial matters. He is a Certified Fund Specialist (CFS), Certified Financial Analyst (CFA), and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). After completing his studies, he worked for a number of investment banks and recorded exemplary performance in the 10-years that he worked for them. The bulk of the money he used to start his fund came from bonuses he earned. Darren’s motivation to succeed developed at a young age. He was born into a poor family, and had to work hard at his education to change his fortunes, and he did.
Now that he is at the top of his game, Darren is hoping to change the fortunes of those in the situation he was in as a child. He runs a foundation that funds the education needs of needy children. In the last four years, he has given out more than GBP 2 million through his foundation and hopes to expand the amount he gives as his profits grow. While running his firm, and foundation, takes a huge portion of his time, Darren takes time off to catch up with his friends. He owns a boat as spends time there with friends and family on weekends. It helps him refresh, for the complex task of market analysis that he usually does at his firm.
How did you get started in this business?
My start in the industry has a lot to do with the degree I chose. From the day I set foot in the first finance class in uni, I knew that I was destined for a career in fund management. My interest was enhanced by the realization that fund managers are among the best paid people in the world. I put in the work, graduated top of the class, and landed a job at a top private equity firm. This was my first real taste of the industry. I worked there for 3-years and left for greener pastures. Overall, I spent a decade at various institutions before launching my fund. It’s now been four years, and I am loving everything about it. In all the years that we have been in operation, the firm has been consistently profitable and we continue to draw in investors with each passing year.
How do you make money?
I make money in two ways. The first one is through profits on the bets I make in the financial markets. For instance, I made over 150% profits betting against Bitcoin in 2018. At the time, I believed it was a bubble, and I was right. I pocketed some of the profits and redistributed the rest to my investors. I do the same with all my other investments. The second way I make money is through fees charged to all those who want to invest with us. Due to my firm’s consistency in giving returns to our clients, I have seen a significant increase in the amount that we raise from management. We are investing in technologies that will make our trades even more precise. Hoping to draw in more investors and drive up the amount that we generate from management fees. One thing clients’ love about us is that we have some of the lowest fees in the industry, and we are very consistent in profitability.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It takes about 6 months
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I had my doubts at first, and they were mostly from overthinking stuff. When I started my firm, I was coming straight from the world of institutional investment funds where you are provided with every resource you need to get the job done. Then here I was, starting a fund where I was in charge of everything by myself. To make it worse, I was starting off with nothing but personal savings, and if anything went wrong, I would lose my shirt. To overcome my fears, I reminded myself of the reason why I was starting in the first place – the freedom to make decisions without someone lording over me. I also reminded myself that for the 10-years that I had worked at institutional investment funds, I was net positive. This gave me the willpower to keep going, and so far I am happy that I had the courage to start and sustain the company. For entrepreneurs who are in a similar position as mine, I would advise that anytime you have doubts about your business, remind yourself why you started it in the first place.
How did you get your first customer?
I get my customers mostly through referrals. Our clients love our consistency in profits and always refer their friends. It is a strategy that has worked for the past few years, and has brought in the bulk of the clients for the last two years. Going forward, we hope to incentivize our clients to bring in even more referrals. It is a sure way to grow our clientele in the long run.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Besides using referrals, we use Google Ads. Every year, we set aside a budget on the amount that we can spend on Google ads, and so far it is working. The thing I love about Google ads is that they are highly targeted. We can reach pretty much everyone we need to reach by customizing who gets to see our ad. This has ensured that our platform only attracts serious people, who have the assets to invest. It’s also quite affordable compared to other ways of advertising that we tried in the past. Hoping to combine it with referrals to reap maximum benefits from our advertising spend.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
My toughest decision was making the jump from working for the big banks to starting my firm. It was a leap into the unknown. To make it worse, most of my family and friends only compounded my fears. Most of them could not understand how I was leaving the hefty bonuses to go strike it solo, in a venture where I absorbed all the risks. Nonetheless, I set my mind on the goal and ignored all the naysayers. Four years down the line, I am in a better position than I was when working, and my company is on a growth path. To all entrepreneurs out there, I challenge you to follow your heart and ignore all voices planting doubt in your mind. You are the only one who knows why you started, and that reason should help you see your dreams come to fruition.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
That would be my passion, and hard work. Once I set my eyes on a goal, I do not stop until I have achieve it. I put in the work, ride through all the challenges until I get to my goal. This is what helped me succeed when working at investment banks and when I finally opted to start my fund.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying moment was when I graduated among the top students in my class when studying for my finance degree. It reinforced in me the idea that finance was my thing, and with the right mindset, I could scale the heights to the highest levels of this career. To a large extent, this helped me grow in my career to the level I am today, running my fund that has millions of pounds under management.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future is bright for my business. With advances in technology, the opportunities to make money in the financial markets are limitless. The future is bright.
What business books have inspired you?
I read a lot and draw inspiration from lots of books. However, of all the books that I have read, the one that inspires me most is the lean startup by Eric Ries. It is a book that has been very instrumental in my success by emphasizing on the importance of innovation in the success of a startup business. I have used the ideas in the book to get my business to where it is today.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger focus on building the right skills while still young. Once you master a certain skill early, you can earn a lot from it, because you can only get better at it with age. Don’t waste too much of your youth just having fun and other less constructive stuff.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I am willing to mentor anyone who has an interest in entrepreneurship. Just hit me up on LinkedIn and we can arrange a meetup.