Interview with Mark Makepeace

Mark Makepeace

Chief Executive, FTSE Russell

1. What do you think New York brings to the table that London doesn’t, and vice-versa?

I think New York has this high energy—even in the way business is done. I don’t think any place can rival that energy. There’s this “get it done” attitude that is the epitome of New York City.

Now London—London has tradition that business is built on trust.  It’s summarized well in the London Stock Exchange Group’s Motto, “my word is my bond.” New Yorkers are very direct; it’s very much “this is what you get; this is what I get” (in how they do business). In London, it’s all about making those bonds and building trust first before moving onto business.


2. Do you listen to anything while traveling? And, What’s on your playlist? (could be music, or a podcast)

I travel a lot, and I love the BBC. When I commute, I listen to a lot of talk shows, dramas and Radio 4. Now, being British, everyone in the UK must follow the “Today” programme. And you can download the podcast. When I’m away from London, I just get the podcast and listen to that. It reminds me that I am British.


3. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be?

(Laughs) It would be… “You Finally Got There.”


4. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen recently?

I was reading an article (though I can’t remember the newspaper) that was about the special characteristics of successful leaders. And there was a line that stuck out to me, “good leaders have a quality called ‘followership’.” The piece summarized well what great leaders have to become today. Leaders have to gain trust, and to have this quality that makes people want to listen and follow them.


5. With tech beginning to dominate the way we work, what will the future hold for the FTSE Russell?

Technology is transforming financial services. FTSE Russell will remain at heart a company that helps investors find their way to the opportunities that exist. And in this way, FTSE Russell will become more relevant than ever before. But the way we evaluate companies and markets in the future will change. Companies will increasingly be affected by how they’re viewed socially, and in regard to their treatment of social issues. Their reputation across social media, using data that can be crowdsourced, may become a benchmark for evaluation in the investment process.


6.What is the one characteristic that your peers would highly praise you for, and one that drives them insane?

I have a very inquisitive mind. I constantly challenge thinking—my own, and that of others. I always ask questions. It can be a good trait, and on the other hand, it can drive people absolutely bonkers! I don’t know everything, and asking those questions may get us closer to the right answers.


7.What do you think are the three biggest threats to society as we know it?

As we adapt to the new future, I think the three biggest threats are: newer tech, how to navigate powerful technologies, such as artificial intelligence, since there has been no basis for that up until this point. Second is social media, especially as it affects our democratic process. And third is the global rivalry between nations. We have to find ways to work together, cooperate, and accept each other’s strengths. Otherwise, the world would find itself in a much worse place than it is now.


8. If you were holding a dinner party, and could invite three influential people to bring, who would they be and why?

I would invite at least one person from the academic world, because I really like how academics think and question everything. From the financial world I would invite Bill Sharp. I know him as well; he has a such a great mind, and is also good fun.

I would also invite George Osborne, the Editor of “The Standard” (and the former chancellor of the exchequer, who was sacked by prime minister Theresa May in 2016, and left the Commons after 16 years of service as an MP). He’s quite an interesting character.

From the political world—and this answer may not be a popular one—I would invite Tony Blair. He is one of the few British premiers that is a world leader.