x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Travelling man takes bank in another direction

The Life: Richard Musty explains how he gets the most out of his staff at Lloyds TSB Middle East

Richard Musty sees staff as being the bank's most important resource.Duncan Chard for the National
Richard Musty sees staff as being the bank's most important resource.Duncan Chard for the National

Richard Musty is the managing director of Lloyds TSB Middle East. He discusses how he gets the most out of his staff as well as how he steered Lloyds away from the mortgage market ahead of Dubai's property downturn.

International banks have seen tough times, with big lenders cutting hundreds of jobs recently. How do you attempt to retain staff?

We have seen a reduction in our headcount, but a lot of that reflects ways in which we have improved our business and customer services: improving our processes and streamlining them over the past three years. Staff are our biggest and most important resource, so you've got to dedicate time to develop them and give them that opportunity. You've got to be realistic as well, because not everyone wants to be the chairman and some people are quite happy to do their day-to-day job, but one thing you can do is try to make it more interesting for them.

How do you ensure that employees remain motivated during tough times?

It comes down to senior and line managers understanding what workloads are and having flexibility with people. The other thing that helps that is multi-skilling. We may get different people to do different pieces of work to broaden their experience. The days when they came in and did just one task are long gone.

Lloyds was among the first banks in the UAE to stop lending mortgages in 2008. How did you convince members of your team to break with the orthodoxy when you arrived in Dubai back then?

At the time, there wasn't an acceptance that the global downturn was coming to Dubai. Positioning the business was a real challenge. We'd seen an economy that had grown at double digits for some time and you'd had house prices rising at 20 per cent per year. But sometimes, someone new to an environment has a different perspective. I think a lot of that is courage of convictions and having a good clear rationale of where you're going.

Banking is notorious for its unfriendly working hours. How do you unwind after the stress of the day-to-day?

Career, hard work and putting a lot of hours in is something that comes naturally. I'm a very early riser. I'll get up most mornings at 5 o'clock, do some e-mails, and then I go out on my bike. I did a lap around Arabian Ranches on my bicycle this morning. But I've got a young family, and that makes you realise that the material things in life aren't everything. But one way I relax is travel - business travel, but a lot of personal travel too. My ambition in life was to fill up a passport, which I've done. And I'm nearly there on my second one.