Peter Hargreaves and Stephen Lansdown, who formed Hargreaves Lansdown in 1981, have both been awarded a Doctor of Laws degree in recognition of their outstanding success in creating a global financial company worth billions of pounds and with half a million clients around the world. Their partnership is being upheld by the University as an example of building “something special” in Bristol which has weathered recent financial storms and grown continuously for the last 30 years.
Peter and Stephen, both trained accountants, ironically met when they went for the same job at a financial firm. As luck would have it, they were both employed and ultimately decided to take the plunge and go into business together.
Hargreaves Lansdown began life on 1 July, 1981, in Peter’s spare bedroom in Clifton. At the heart of the business model is the idea that customers are offered a one-stop shop where they can transact through the company, choosing between a large number of low-risk investments such as unit trusts.
The company makes its money by taking a very small amount of money from a large number of investments and has never borrowed money to grow the business, a move which has stood it in good stead.
From the day Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in 2008 until Portugal’s debt was downgraded last year, Hargreaves Lansdown’s share price went up over three and half times, at the very time that economies were collapsing and financial markets were in turmoil.
Professor Paul Grout, Professor of Political Economy, is delivering the oration and said: “This story is also a story for the City of Bristol, one that the city should be proud of. I’ve been a professor here for over 25 years and have come to love the city.
“We know very many of our students want to stay here when they graduate. The success of Hargreaves Lansdown shows that you do not need to leave the city and rush off to London or New York to build something special. It can be done right here.”
Professor Grout described how the pair’s connections with the city of Bristol go deeper than their business, which they’ve both now stepped back from running. Peter remains an Executive Director while Stephen’s turned his attentions to his sporting interests.
In addition to being the leading shareholder in Bristol City Football Club, Stephen has just been identified as the new owner of Bristol Rugby, having bailed the club out when it was on the verge of going into administration.