Christopher Roy Garland is a Gaborone, Botswana-based executive with more than four decades of experience in financial planning and corporate advisory services. He is the current Managing Director of Fidelity Indemnity (Pty) Limited, which advises individuals and firms doing business in the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Chris and the Fidelity Indemnity (Pty) Limited team focus on three service verticals: international financial planning for high net worth individuals and their businesses, the promotion of development within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and corporate advisory services for firms that do business in the SADC.
Chris and Fidelity Indemnity have worked on a number of infrastructure and economic development projects in Botswana, including a heavy freight railway line and port initiative, several energy development projects, and the Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC) and its predecessor organizations (the Botswana International Financial Services Centre Ltd. and the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority). Chris served as Deputy Chairman and Audit Committee Chairman of the Board of the BITC during the transition period.
Beyond Botswana, Christopher Roy Garland has consulted or led business and economic development initiatives across southern and central Africa and in Europe. His work has taken South Africa, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Mauritius, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, among other countries.
Chris has been a Certified Financial Planner since 1985, when he graduated with honors from the University of Free State (South Africa). He has been an admitted member of the Financial Planning Institute of South Africa since that same year and has been an active member of the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) even longer — since 1979. Chris has been a fellow member of the Institute of Directors Southern Africa since 2011. He is also a full member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP) of London and has been a qualified Trust Estate Practitioner (TEP) since 2013.
Christopher Roy Garland has extensive experience as a board director and corporate advisor. His recent board engagements include as Non-Executive Director of the Board for Fugro Botswana (Pty) Ltd., from 2015 and 2020; Non-Executive Director of the Board for Melric Investimentos Lda., since 2000; Executive Director of Tagine Capital Partners Africa (Pty) Ltd., since 2016; and Non-Executive Director for the International Housing Solutions (IHS) Group of Companies in Botswana, Kensal Rise (Pty) Ltd., and International Housing Solutions Property Management (Pty) Ltd., since 2016. Chris served as Chief Executive Officer of Truckafrica Group SADC Region, from 1991 to 2001, and as Managing Director (and co-founder) of Johannesburg-based Capital Corporation, from 1981 to 1991.
Chris is an avid commercial pilot who holds a FAA Qualified Commercial Multi-Engine Pilot license and Instrument rating. He has been a member of the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) since 1997. A native of Plymouth, England, he now lives in the Kgale Hill district of Gaborone with his wife and enjoys spending time with his two adult children.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
My role as managing director of Fidelity Indemnity (Pty) Limited grew out of my experience in domestic financial planning in Capital Corporation, a company I had started in conjunction with one of the larger institutions in South Africa. Through my work there, I soon realized that there was a need or niche for a very specialized form of international financial planning aimed at ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their extended families based in the subregion of Southern Africa. Botswana was the ideal country to start this company because it had no exchange control and very dynamic regulations that allowed for greater expansion into the region.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The day starts with a good look at current affairs both globally and regionally. This is followed by a look at both the regional and global financial markets, including various currency movements. I then review client portfolios and engage in continuous electronic communications throughout the day. I then follow up with the charities and community members that I am involved with, such as The Equinox Trust, a non-profit organization based in South Africa that focuses on providing emotional therapy to those in need. I regularly attend weekly industry-related webinars presented by professional organizations I belong to. I also frequently organize and attend meetings with clients and industry-related professionals.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As an idea presents itself, I will spend time researching and investigating the possibilities. I will then expand the idea by touching base and collaborating with the various international experts at my disposal. Once I have collaborated and gathered intel, I will then formulate the idea into a sound strategy to deliver to the client or industry professional.
What’s one trend that excites you?
A trend that interests me is the use of debt funds as an anchor investment in the various portfolios as it is a great stabilizer with client investments.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am diligent at evaluating and organizing the many and varied communications I receive on a daily basis. I make sure to sort and prioritize these to ensure that I efficiently attend to them.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self not to be in a rush to find a career, as life has a habit of presenting opportunities at the right time. It is often through living life and being present in your experiences that you can find opportunities and make use of them.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that one should stick to a strategy and should not make constant changes just for the sake of change. Often people disagree and encourage flexibility. However, with my experience and knowledge, I find that my strategies work. I have full confidence in them and therefore believe in sticking to them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I make sure that I communicate my intentions with my family and involve them in my plans. This way, you’re not the only one who knows what is happening — this is especially critical should something happen to you. Also, when your family understands why you do things in a particular way, it creates a balanced work and personal life, which is important when working for yourself.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I have always taken the time to look after my clients. I listen to their needs. I remember important family dates and gatherings. I ensure that I am relatable to them. I engage with them on their strategy, so they feel a part of what we are working on together. When you look after your clients in this manner, they will in turn look after you, help you grow your business, and show loyalty that creates stability.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I got involved in a business that I did not understand well and paid the price. The best thing I did was move on with life and concentrate on the business that I understood best.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There is an increasing need for Family Offices in today’s complex world. One can specialize in a particular field, profession, geographic location or wealth size of the family. Where do you think that you can add the most value or where does your interest lie?
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent recently was just spending time out with a client over a simple lunch with no fixed agenda.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I like using Dropbox, which provides easy access to all my essential information, whether I am in my office or out meeting with clients. It has great storage capacity as well as security features that protect me and my clients. The service enables me to be more productive and helps me share information more efficiently with clients or other industry professionals.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts. It has a soulful and touching narrative on life and encourages strength in even the hardest of situations.
What is your favorite quote?
“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago” — Warren Buffett
- Don’t be in a rush to find a career, as life has a habit of presenting opportunities at the right time. It is often through living life and being present in your experiences that you can find opportunities and make use of them.
- Be sure to communicate your intentions with your family and involve them in your plans. This way, you’re not the only one who knows what is happening — this is especially critical should something happen to you. Also, when your family understands why you do things in a particular way, it creates a balanced work and personal life, which is important when working for yourself.
- Take the time to listen to your clients’ needs and remember their important family dates and gatherings. Be relatable to them. Engage with them on their strategy, so they feel a part of what you are working on together. When you look after your clients in this manner, they will in turn look after you.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.