Darren Butterfield-Manchester is a financial specialist based in London. He runs his own firm which is involved in trading commodities, cryptocurrencies, and equities and which has been highly successful in its four years of operation. His love for finance led to his decision to study finance at the university followed by years of working in the industry to get experience. Aside from his degree, he is also a certified financial planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and Certified Fund Specialist (CFS). After school, he invested over a decade working for reputable investment banks in the country where he continued to be a top performer. He felt confident to try out on his own and set up the firm which he currently runs. The firm has so far drawn over 20 million pounds in investments and is continuing to expand its client portfolio. He credits his success to hard work and value addition for his clients. He believes in the use of technology and his firm has invested in cutting-edge technology which has helped the firm through the use of algorithms in trading. Aside from work, Darren is a philanthropist at heart and is passionate about ensuring every child has access to quality education. Coming from a humble background, his excellence in school gave him the platform to change his financial status and he strives to offer the same to children from poor backgrounds. He invests his time and donates money to a children’s foundation which he also runs helping children access good quality education. He has disbursed over 2 million pounds to the foundation which has helped see his cause through. He also enjoys a rich social life and loves to spend time with his friends and family. He loves boating and does it for fun with friends on weekends and holidays.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
The idea came from my love for the financial industry. After about ten years working in the industry for different investment banks, I felt like it was time for me to try going at it alone. I had the passion, the experience, and the timing felt right and that’s how I set up the firm.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day for me starts with 45 minutes of physical exercise. I try to work out at least five days a week. I then prepare breakfast and have it before getting ready for work. Once I’m done with breakfast it’s a quick shower and I’m out the door. I make it more productive by having a to-do list which I go through the day before. It helps me prepare in advance even for the tasks I don’t like doing.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I write them down. Every single idea that crosses my mind is written down so I don’t forget and when I get the time I go through them and act on them.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Blockchain technology and Cryptocurrencies really fascinate me. They have totally changed the global economy and the financial world and offer endless possibilities. Financial transactions can now be done in a split second to anywhere in the world at any time. It is eliminating all the inefficiencies of centralized systems and fiat currencies.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Planning. It has helped me and my staff be more organized and efficient. It has also increased my firm’s productivity because everyone knows what to do when to do it and the most important tasks are tended to with utmost urgency and attention. With proper planning, I’m also able to achieve a healthy work-life balance which keeps me in great shape and helps prevent burnout.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise my younger self to invest in good relationships. People are the secret to everything really. The right people will be your clients or customers for your business. They will bring the right skills to your firm and help you succeed. They will give you supplies for your business, will invest in your ideas, and will make it easy for you to get whatever you need. The people in your close circle will also offer social and emotional support which will help get you through the difficult times. And most importantly celebrate your success with you and keep you in check.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Analyzing my competition. I make it my business to know what my competitors- especially those more successful than me are doing differently. Through this, I’m able to identify where the gap in the industry is and by filling it have a better chance of succeeding. It also helps me to see where I could be going wrong and my weaknesses and work on them. Finally, there’s plenty to learn from those who are in the industry longer than me. I get to learn trade secrets from the best in the world.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Continuous learning and embracing new technology. I invest a lot of my time learning the latest technology in the industry and how to use it to my advantage. I recently invested in technology for trading using algorithms and it has been quite a success. It has increased my firm’s efficiency and accuracy and also has the ability to predict trends which I wouldn’t be able to do without it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I tried to do everything by myself. I felt like I could handle it all and I was wrong. I stretched myself thin trying to wear all the hats. This took away my attention from the things I’m actually good at and I became a jack of all trades but master of none. My firm suffered from the decision because things were getting done but not at 100% and I had to sit and reevaluate my priorities.
I had to learn how to delegate and even after that I also had to learn how to stop micromanaging my staff. It took a while but it paid off.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Cryptocurrencies, especially bitcoin mining and trading, or any blockchain-related investment. Blockchain is changing how we create value, and that is huge.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I donated to the children’s foundation I run. The foundation helps children from poor backgrounds have access to high-quality education. Growing up in a poor household, charity organizations gave me a chance to have an education which I used to get to where I am now. Giving to this foundation is my way of giving back and giving another child the opportunity for a brighter future.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google docs. It’s great for working with numbers and has been a great tool for me as a financier. It’s also pretty easy to understand, edit and share documents with others.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Getting Things Done by David Allen. The book had great guidelines on how to prioritize and get the work done efficiently and with maximum productivity. It also advocates for principles I believe in such as taking time away from work to relax and enjoying a healthy social life. It’s also great for those who, like me, struggle with delegating tasks. I like the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule which I apply almost daily.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is “Upon the subject of education … I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in” by Abraham Lincoln.
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.