More than four years ago, Gold spoke for the first time to Andrey Dashin, Chairman of the Board and owner of the Alpari brand, founder of ForexTime (FXTM), and a Director of the Alpari Charitable Fund and of Andrey & Julia Dashin’s Foundation. A new interview with the high-profile Russian businessman and philanthropist was well overdue. Below, you can read his views on how his life and work have progressed since his first appearance in the magazine.
Gold: The first time I interviewed you was for Gold’s 10th issue in January 2012. Fifty months later, this is Gold’s 60th issue and a lot has changed for you too. How do you view the last four years?
Andrey Dashin: Time sure flies fast! These past years were full of events and, as happens in life, some of them were good and some rather grim. What’s important is that one must always take some positive experience and knowledge from every situation that occurs – be it in business or personal affairs.
Gold: One of the biggest changes was your decision to found ForexTime and wind down the operations of Alpari in Cyprus. Was it a difficult step, given that Alpari had been your ‘baby’ for many years?
A.D.: Let me be clear on this – these two events were not tied to each other whatsoever. Back then, there was a strategic decision to relocate the European operations of Alpari from Cyprus, centralizing them in the UK. The main reason for this was the fact that regulation in Cyprus and the UK, in terms of servicing clients from complex jurisdictions, had been to some extent equalized and the move seemed to be cost-effective at the time. With regard to ForexTime – as many very well know – I’m a demanding person who loves challenges. Setting up a new business from scratch and having it compete with the leaders of the industry was surely a challenge and one that I believe I have succeeded in by offering advanced and innovative services, optimal customer care and perpetual devotion to our clients.
Gold: In such a competitive sector as Forex, you have succeeded not once but twice in establishing yourself as a major player. What’s the secret?
A.D.: Complete and utter dedication to something you truly believe in. You have to believe in the goals you set ahead of you, in your personnel, and – as many cliché coaching books will suggest – in yourself. You can surely doubt yourself but you should never doubt your ability to achieve something. Hard work and dedication, plus a bit of luck – that’s my personal recipe for success.
Gold: How much of a hands-on role do you play in the company’s day-to-day activities?
A.D.: Obviously, managing two large independent brands is not an easy task and I can’t give my attention to all the queries and issues that arise daily, but I strongly believe that a successful entrepreneur must always keep his eye on the ball. I am, therefore, involved in all the key decisions and activities of my companies, as well as providing guidance and support to my personnel and colleagues.
Gold: Were you and the business affected by the events of March 2013 in Cyprus?
A.D.:Like every other person living in Cyprus, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. Of course, financially, neither I nor my companies were hurt even one bit – we were prepared as one must always be in this modern environment. But, in general, it was rather a sad sight for all. It created a precedent and that takes a long time for everyone to forget – not just in Cyprus but all over the world. However, such events do help shake things up, which is always good and we’re already seeing some positive results thanks to this.
Gold: You made a point of staying here through the island’s most difficult moments. What was it that gave you the confidence to maintain your trust in Cyprus?
A.D.: I come from Russia – a country with a rich history of peculiar events. So it is rather difficult to surprise me and catch me off guard! It is also a fact that one must always learn from one’s mistakes, whether in business or in government. Yes, it takes a big effort and even sacrifices to recover, but once the wound has healed, you’ll be stronger than ever, with acquired knowledge that will help you in the future, giving you an advantage over those who have never experienced such storms. In this regard, I have said it before and will say it again: Cyprus as a country and the Cypriots as a nation have what it takes to endure and mature.
Gold: ForexTime appears to be going from strength to strength these days. What is the key to staying ahead of the competition?
A.D.: In such a competitive environment, you must always be ahead of your game. At ForexTime we focus on innovation and on providing unparalleled quality of services to our clients. We aim to fully explore the potential of the financial markets and to place our clients’ needs at the centre of every decision we take. We will always strive to ensure maximum performance, customer satisfaction and security in every investment.
Gold: You also stand out from your competitors by the fact that you, personally, maintain quite a high local profile and make a point of being an active member of the local community. Was this a conscious decision and, if so, why?
A.D.: If you look at the best-known entrepreneurs around the world, you will see that most of them are open to be public and active in their local community. I am no exception. I believe that any company and any business must have a face: someone you can easily relate to and understand. This simple yet important attitude quite naturally translates into the wish to make the world around you a better place – not just for yourself, but for everyone.
Gold: When we spoke in 2012, you talked about the Alpari Charitable Fund and since then, you and your wife have established the Andrey & Julia Dashin’s Foundation, through which you help charitable causes. Did your desire to help those in need come from your own background in Kazan or are you simply following the lead of wealthy businessmen who turn to philanthropy? Or is it a mixture of both?
A.D.: I started the Alpari Charitable Fund in Russia more than 10 years ago with a clear mindset of the necessity to give back to the community and especially to those in need. Irrespective of recent trends in philanthropy amongst wealthy businessmen, I established the Andrey & Julia Dashin’s Foundation in Cyprus to continue with that same mindset.
Gold: How satisfying is this ‘giving back’ aspect of your life?
A.D.: If you have ever looked into the eyes of kids who haven’t been as lucky in life as you have, when they receive new toys or just about any present that they’ve never had before, at that moment there is no place for doubt in your heart and mind that you’re doing the right thing and must continue your course of action. I can’t stress this enough: the seeds you plant now will thrive and evolve into something that really matters years ahead.
Gold: Do you ever feel that Cyprus is too small for you? Do you travel a lot in order to ‘get away’?
A.D.: I moved to Cyprus years ago because it was something one would probably call love at first sight. Since I come from Kazan, I’ve never been a fan of big cities. Cyprus is a small and peaceful place with generally caring people and we must all appreciate this island for what it is. Besides, as an entrepreneur that is proactive in his business decisions, I do travel a lot so I never get that feeling of being stuck in one place, irrespective of the country.
Gold: Do you miss Russia? Do you still take an interest in what’s happening there?
A.D.: Being born in Kazan and having lived there for most of my life, Russia is and will always be a part of me. I obviously keep my eye on all the developments in my homeland and I travel there a lot.
Gold: Four years ago, you said to me: ‘One day I am going to leave business behind and explore new areas, travel, go hiking, diving. It’s a good thing to have a dream, especially a big dream.’ That day obviously hasn’t arrived yet but is that still the plan?
A.D.: It’s still the plan but now, as much as four years ago, I’m still too young and too ambitious to leave business behind, especially in these current most interesting and challenging times.
Gold: So you haven’t lost that big dream?
A.D.: By no means – the dream is still there, and if something has changed throughout the years, it’s just that the dream’s getting bigger.