To the picturesque Bailiwick of Guernsey for this Sovereign Story to meet Stephen Hare who recently celebrated ten years as Managing Director of Sovereign Trust (Channel Islands) Limited . A former director in our Gibraltar office, lawyer Stephen is hugely qualified and experienced. The Guernsey office has enjoyed enormous success under his leadership but he has ambitions for yet more growth in the future. We spoke to him to learn more.
Born and raised in Maidstone, Stephen obtained his law degree from the University of West London. As a private client lawyer he became a partner at the Kent firm CooperBurnett twenty years ago. STEP qualified, he joined Sovereign Gibraltar as in-house counsel in April 2004, becoming a director in 2007. He transferred to Guernsey in 2010 where he opened a new office on the back of the phenomenally successful QROPS pension business. Stephen became MD two years later and the office has seen spectacular growth over the past decade.
Guernsey office’s pension arm has grown exponentially since then and the office became extremely successful by any measure. Stephen explains that by 2021, the pensions business had grown to such an extent that it required a separate board and dedicated management team. In a confident move designed to develop both sides of the operation still further, it was split into two distinct areas. The pension company is now managed by Guernseyman Sean Gillease whilst Stephen continues to look after and grow the trust and corporate (or “fiduciary”) part of the business.
The overall approach is to grow the fiduciary company organically together with considering strategic acquisitions – which has already happened on the pension side. Approaching other Guernsey-based firms who may wish to establish off-island structuring will also be important – as it has been for several other offices worldwide.
Overall the team complement across both businesses is close to 50 with most working for only one of the two companies. A small group covers internal functions for both sides so the businesses remain closely linked working together as two distinct halves of the Sovereign Guernsey venture.
From the start twelve years ago, Sovereign’s Guernsey office took the lead by embracing positivity through diversity as a matter of office policy. As an openly gay man, Stephen is justifiably pleased by the office’s achievements in this regard meaning that Guernsey became – and remains – arguably the most diverse office across the group.
Stephen is equally proud that seven years ago Guernsey hosted the inaugural Student Art Prize under the auspices of the Sovereign Art Foundation. The movement has attached enormous publicity locally over the years and has grown to become one of the island’s annual “go to” cultural events. Stephen points out that all staff members get behind the effort every year. They are rightly proud of the good that results, not least being the positive publicity earned for Sovereign as a whole.
Stephen’s management style is non-confrontational. He has built an enviable reputation as being both hugely knowledgeable and approachable and is keen to exploit his mentoring and coaching roles. Of course at the same time he must direct the business firmly – as required by any managing director in these straightened financial times. Reaching a workable balance between the two takes enormous skill but is something Stephen strives to achieve at all times.
Admitting that next year he will celebrate his next “zero” birthday, out of work Stephen’s passion is travel and he has been to many countries worldwide. He loves cruising and has completed more than twenty voyages mainly in Europe and the Caribbean. This keep fit fanatic is an avid runner and also enjoys spending time in Guernsey’s neighbouring islands Herm and Sark – where he is a keen supporter of the famous annual sheep racing.
Plans are well underway for a move next year to newly refurbished offices in the centre of St Peter Port, the island’s capital. All bodes well for yet more success and growth of this exciting office. We wish Stephen and his team all the very best for the move and look forward to hearing of future stellar progress in this increasingly important Group location.