Since I launched Case Interactive Media with Austin Ventures in the spring of 2007 and had the vision of building a global professional information services company, I have focused on a strong foundation in two of the pillars of our global financial system, New York and London. I spend at least one week of every quarter, and sometimes longer, in London, where we have seen our business expand both through acquisition and organic growth. On Saturday, April 2nd Mary Claire and I boarded British Airways at JFK for a nine-day trip to London. The Four Seasons at Park Lane, which had been shut for several years for a major renovation, reopened in January. This stay brought back many fond memories of earlier visits in the ’90s. As one should expect, the Four Seasons tradition of a high level of personal service was discreetly evident. Plan Sponsor Europe will hold a kick-off luncheon in May at the Four Seasons at Park Lane to launch our first major European pension event, which will provide insights into the accelerating trend in Europe toward defined contribution pension schemes. The actual event, Plan Sponsor European Conference, will take place October 25th-27th at the Hotel Arts in Barcelona, Spain, which is one of the finest facilities for events in all of Europe. Nevin Adams and his editorial team will produce the event.
On Monday evening, April 4th, Andreas Pfunder, Managing Director Europe for London-based Strategic Insight, arranged for a special introduction to one of the United Kingdom’s greatest traditions, Parliament. Mike Freer MP, a Conservative who was elected in the 2010 general election from the constituency of Finchley and Golders Green, gave us a personal tour. His knowledge of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons and their unique traditions was commanding. He was most gracious with his time, and while he was waiting to return for a vote at 9:00 p.m. he joined Mary Claire, Andreas and I for dinner. Mike represents the same constituency from which Baroness Thatcher launched her extraordinary political career in 1959.
I carried on my own tradition of meeting with clients over the course of the week. Without fail the most valuable insights that I gain into the issues our clients are wrestling with come from these personal meetings. Our major global brands, Simfund Focus from Strategic Insight, Global Custodian, Plan Sponsor Europe and The Trade, are all well represented in London and I always return from these trips with new ideas on how we can improve, even further, our clients experience with both our business intelligence products and advisory services, as well as the unique marketing services we are able to provide for them as they strengthen their market position and their own core brands.
As we moved to the weekend, John Lee, an entrepreneur and the founder of The Trade, together with his wife Allison treated us to another tradition, the English countryside. We began with a wonderful lunch at Auberge du Lac in Hertfordshire, which is about 1 hour outside of London, from Mayfair. The weather was delightful, in the mid-60s, as it had been for most of the week. Spring had clearly arrived in London! We then visited Allison and John’s 600+ year-old home, where they have just completed a marvelous renovation. The exposed beams in the center of the home, with their special etchings, provided an insight into a time long ago. One could not help but be reminded of the important tradition of preservation of our past as we sat in the garden and watched the sun slowly set in the west.