Spotlight interview: Paul Howard
RGS is proud to have such a well-connected global family, so we were eager to catch up with Reigatian Paul Howard (RGS 1989-1997) to hear about life in Hong Kong! With more than a decade of institutional sales experience in Executive Director roles at both Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, Paul joined cryptocurrency firm BlockFi in July 2021 and was also named one of Asia’s youngest Managing Directors of a Fortune 500 company.
Walk us through your journey since leaving RGS
The RGS Sixth Form stimulated my interest in economics and technology, so perhaps it was no surprise that I took a degree in Computer Science at Nottingham and went on to a job in computer programming at an investment bank in the City of London. Fascinated by Asia as a cultural adventure, I quickly moved to a similar role in Tokyo and then on to Hong Kong.
You’ve lived and worked in Hong Kong for almost 20 years. What do you love most about the place?
If it felt like moving to work in the City of London was fast-paced, moving to Hong Kong was 10 times that! The energy of the city, convenience and access to people from all walks of life makes it a vibrant and quick place to do business and enjoy a good quality of life.
With vast experience as an Executive Director and Managing Director with listed companies, what motivated you to study for an MBA?
For me, learning and education are life-long virtues and the best way to stay relevant, and avoid being pigeonholed mid-way through my career, was to continue studying. The programme at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is world renowned and broadened my knowledge of topics I was keen to get exposure to outside my 9-5 work.
Describe what BlockFi does and your role within that
BlockFi is a neo-financial institution that does two things, i) provides retail users (like you or I) a great yield on USD or cryptocurrency assets, ii) gives loans to help people with a crypto business to grow. My role as Director for the Asia business is to educate institutions on blockchain technology and how BlockFi can help them reach their business goals through financing.
What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
- Do something you are passionate about and everything else will fall into place
- Working as a team and delivering your USP within that team is critical to fulfillment
- Treat everyone with respect because you never know – one day you might be working for them!
What advice do you have for prospective cryptocurrency candidates?
Understand the technology and uncover opportunities and you will go far.
What is on your wish list for the next 10 years?
Besides good health and Bitcoin hitting $100k! I would love to see faster flow of capital in the financial services industry. Why, for example, are we still writing paper cheques? Why does it take two days for equity purchases to settle in accounts? Why are banks still paying meaningless interest rates? Cryptocurrency can fix all this.
If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
The Bunker Banker.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
Be nicer to Mum and Dad, they have sacrificed so much to get you here – you need to make them proud and there is only yourself to blame when it goes wrong. And remember to buy Bitcoin!