Sükrü Evrengün: “Making decisions quickly is absolutely crucial.”


4 min read

Sükrü Evrengün is CEO at Bolder Group, an independent global service provider. Here, he explains how having a clearly defined M&A strategy is crucial to success, and reflects on the top three things that slow companies down when quick decisions are required.

What is the single thing we can do to make boards more effective?

As someone who sits on a number of boards, one of the greatest challenges you face is the amount of information to go through and process in a very short amount of time. Often, you might not know as much as you’d like to about a certain topic, so you need to go off and find out some more. I would really like to see a tool that helps to make that more seamless, where it can feed back to you what you need to know in a way that’s easy to understand. I think that developments in AI might make something like this possible, and it would be a real help when you’re dealing with particularly complicated topics where you need to focus your thinking to come up with the most pertinent questions;

In 10 years’ time, what technology innovation do you expect to be mainstream in your industry?

Without a doubt, AI will have a tremendous effect on the financial services industry — as it will for many others. In our industry, I think it will be especially productive in preparing legal documents, which I expect to essentially be automated in the future. However, that’s not to say that it will do away with the need for fantastic people working in the business; rather, I see AI being used to supplement people and boost their productivity. It will be something that people work alongside, rather than something that will replace them or make them obsolete.

“It will be something that people work alongside, rather than something that will replace them or make them obsolete.”

Bolder Group continues to expand its global footprint with recent acquisitions. How do you get a board to make the right decision, quickly, about a potential acquisition or merger? And how do you make it a success?

First and foremost, you need to make sure that everyone’s clear on why you’re pursuing a specific acquisition or merger — where do you want to go? How will this get us there? For us, this is very clear as we want to continue our growth and ensure we can still compete with our large competitors, whilst also remaining a relatively small, independent organisation where we are still very much in control of our own destiny. It’s also important for us that any products we take on or develop are scalable — we don’t want to be an organisation with 1,000 people in each of a handful of offices. We’d much rather remain as a relatively small organisation that’s on top of things.

When thinking about your M&A strategy, it’s just as important that you know what you don’t want and the type of organisation you don’t want to be. From our perspective, we have no interest in becoming an acquisitions machine; it’s crucial for us that we’re able to integrate our businesses so that our culture is the same across all of our offices and everyone’s making use of the same tech suite. You hear horror stories where this hasn’t happened and you end up with something crazy like 1,000 IT systems running concurrently! That's the kind of thing that can be avoided if you approach these things by thinking about where you want to be and working back from there so you know what needs to happen to make that a reality.

“Approach these things by thinking about where you want to be and working back from there so you know what needs to happen to make that a reality.”

In a survey of 250 C-suite executives, we found the top 3 things slowing companies down were: finding things out too late, taking too long to make decisions, and outdated reporting methods. Do you agree?

Sometimes, you find out things later than you’d have liked because someone has hesitated when escalating something they thought they could solve themselves. Other times, it simply takes too long to make decisions — even in smaller organisations you can find decisions being pushed back because you’re trying to get the right people together or because the data isn’t up to scratch, but the next thing you know you haven’t been able to hire who you wanted or you’ve missed an opportunity. Making decisions quickly is absolutely crucial, and although we still have some way to go we’ve invested heavily in our IT infrastructure to give us good, timely data and reporting which is key to this.

What aspect of Bolder’s culture are you most proud of?

I think we’ve created a unique culture where everyone feels quietly confident that they’re offering a better service than our competitors, and this means that we can approach clients and potential clients from a position of confidence — but, crucially, never cockiness. I think our culture is actually summed up well by our name, which in Dutch means ‘bollard’ in the sense of securing your boat safely to harbour; of course, it also has its English meaning and I think that the dual meaning sums up fairly well what we’re trying to achieve with our culture.

“The dual meaning sums up fairly well what we’re trying to achieve with our culture.”

What book do you have on your bedside table?

Currently, I’m reading Carlo Rovelli’s Anaximander and the Nature of Science. Rovelli is a rare writer who can write clearly and understandably about science, and he uses Anaximander, a Greek philosopher who lived over two millennia ago, as a starting point to explore scientific thinking. It’s a fascinating read, and a really interesting study of someone often hailed as the first scientist for suggesting that the world was arranged according to natural forces rather than supernatural ones.

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