A Cut Above: Hisham Mansour, Co-Founder And Managing Director, CFI Financial Group

The co-founder and Managing Director of CFI Financial Group is on a constant journey to challenge -and improve- the status quo.

By
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

When talking about how his company has got to where it is today, Hisham Mansour, co-founder and Managing Director of CFI Financial Group, a global financial markets provider with regulated entities in several jurisdictions, points readily toward his team as being the bedrock for his enterprise’s current standing in the market. Indeed, while explaining that CFI is on a mission to deliver, with passion, innovative and ultra-competitive trading services accessible to everyone, Mansour says, “I would like to stress on ‘with passion,’ because this is the mindset by which each individual at CFI Financial Group operates. We are passionate about trading and providing a superior trading experience to our clients. We are, therefore, on a constant journey to challenge and improve the status quo.” 

CFI Financial Group
Hisham Mansour, co-founder and Managing Director, CFI Financial Group

In 2015, Mansour joined Eduardo Fakhoury to establish the CFI Financial Group, which, until then, had been an expansionary project to the already well-established Beirut-based firm Credit Financier Invest SAL dating back to 1998. Within these 22 years, the CFI Financial Group has grown to include six regulated entities in London, Larnaca, Dubai, Amman, Beirut, and Port Louis. The enterprise’s mission statement, Mansour adds, should signal to investors and traders that his company is constantly innovating. “Our offering is surely a unique mixture of personal and professional support, highly advanced trading infrastructure, some of the most competitive conditions in the industry and an ever increasing range of trading products that currently stands at over 1,500 instruments,” he says. “While many firms are offering similar conditions, we honor ours to the last bit, and we maintain utmost transparency when providing individuals with the financial markets access requested.”

Above all, it is a personal approach to every client, in addition to offering some of the most competitive conditions in the industry, that sets his company apart, Mansour says. “At CFI, you are definitely not just a number,” he explains. “To us, every client is as special as the next one, and this mentality is what differentiates our business model in an interesting way, because a large percentage of our clients are in fact referrals from others. This is a success on its own as we know that our clients are happy bringing their friends over to CFI and do so voluntarily.” And as insightful Mansour is about what makes the CFI Financial Group tick, he is as clear about the road ahead- he aims for his company to be the brand for all things investing and trading.

“Ultimately, we want people to associate trading and investing with CFI, to be their go-to brand for everything related to the financial markets world, and to know deep down that they can rely on us for whatever questions or requests they may have,” Mansour declares. This confidence does not come as a surprise as, just a moment later, Mansour starts listing a set of values that dominate CFI’s workplace, which include integrity and honesty above all, continuously striving towards excellence with discipline and dedication, professionalism coupled with a personal connection, and always providing support and empowerment to their clients, staff, and associates. “It is a part of the recipe that we rely on to achieve continued growth and success,” he says.

Source: CFI Financial Group

If Mansour’s name sounds vaguely familiar to the newcomers in the industry, it might be because they must have studied, or at least heard about, the success of MIG Bank, a reputable and dynamic trading provider, which was the first Swiss broker to obtain a Swiss banking license and which was capable of catering to high net worth and high volume clients. It was Mansour who developed this highly successful business, and then sold it to Swissquote Bank, a leading Swiss online broker, in late 2013. “As your business grows, one of the things you find yourself doing more often is asking: ‘What’s next?” Mansour says, as he recalls this part of his career. “Once I started to reflect on this question, I realized that among the different options available, one strategic possibility stood out, and that was to exit the business. Obviously, this was not as simple as just selling it to the first individual or firm that came my way, and instead, having built a certain legacy, you would want it to be in compatible and capable hands. In my case, Swissquote was a great match, and a company that can truly benefit from what was built at MIG, not to mention the harmony and synergy that existed given the business models employed on both sides.”

Some time after, Mansour was exploring opportunities and new ventures that he could join or create from scratch, and when Fakhoury approached him to help expand his CFI Lebanon, it did not take much persuading, Mansour explains, because the firm had already enjoyed great success with a resoundingly positive reputation. The task at hand was to make CFI a truly global brand. “Knowing Eduardo, CFI, and my passion for growing things, I couldn’t be more enthusiastic,” Mansour says. “This led to us establishing the CFI Financial Group, and soon after, we began focusing on expanding while continuously improving the services we provide.” The expansion into Cyprus was happening in parallel to the growth seen across CFI Lebanon, but shortly after, the group grew to include entities in the UAE, UK, Jordan, and Mauritius. The new companies were all regulated by the regulatory authorities of the locations in which they were based, including Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, Dubai Financial Services Authority, Banque du Liban, Financial Conduct Authority - UK, Financial Services Commission - Mauritius, and Jordan Securities Commission.

Now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the key lessons Mansour learnt while starting and growing MIG Bank are fundamental to his approach to leading CFI and its team even today, which starts with defining what added value must be made available to the clients. “This could be a combination of things, such as offering certain products and services, offering better conditions, improved technologies or simply building a better way to do things which eventually will lead you to develop your own edge against the competition,” he explains. “Having the right team is a main factor, because you will need to rely on those individuals to deliver this added value in an improved and innovative way, something that will keep you in the lead and keep your operation functioning smoothly.” Above all, Mansour holds on to the “leading by example” mantra. “What you portray is exactly what you will receive in return,” he says. “The way you act and react around the office will keep others motivated and ready to push boundaries.”

Mansour applies the same principle when choosing which causes to support, which brings us to the reasoning behind CFI’s decision to sponsor the Nissan e.dams team, a prominent name in the motorsports domain. “There’s more in common between racing and trading than people think,” he explains.

Source: CFI Financial Group

"What CFI and Nissan share is sustainability, technology, and innovation. CFI’s mission involves innovation, which aligns well with the boundaries that Nissan has been constantly pushing. Add to that, the state-of-the-art technology that we employ across our trading infrastructure and the sustainability that we aim to build, our business model offering lifetime value to our clients, and our relationship with all our stakeholders, and you will easily understand what brought us and Nissan together.”

Aside from the CFI team’s history of being fans of motorsport while supporting drivers, teams, and championships, Mansour believes that trading and racing are very similar when it comes to the risk, strategy, speed, and performance involved. “Firstly, controlling risk is important. It needs to be under control and reduced as much as possible without sacrificing success or profitability in the case of trading,” Mansour explains. “When it comes to our strategies, you can never go in blindly, whether you’re making a sharp turn or trying to plan your next move after a market crash. Race strategies are supported by teams of engineers while CFI’s clients are supported by a team of experts. Thirdly, speed and split-second decisions are extremely important, and it is the case with trading when you need to act before you miss a certain move. Lastly, combining all the above is exactly what would help deliver the ideal performance. Furthermore, consistency and sticking to your strategy will give you the edge needed to succeed in racing or trading.”

As for the road ahead, while the COVID- 19-stricken world stands still (or at least some of its parts do), many of Mansour’s plans for the future are already afoot. “Aside from working towards our vision, we are continuing with plenty of confidence on the same path that has led to the current growth over the past few years,” he says. “Furthermore, we are expanding across current markets as well as Europe, Asia, and South America where we believe they have plenty of upside potential. On a final note, the total number of products we currently offer, 1,500, will not will not be the case in a short while as we aim to add thousands of additional stock, exchange traded funds, and other products to our Metatrader 5 platform, as well as our recently introduced cTrader platform.”

In conclusion, Mansour sums up the factors that lead to a successful enterprise -identifying what you believe in and what you stand for, making sure the right team is on board with plenty of motivation, inspiration and support, leading by example, and working hard alongside everyone else- but reiterates that the true growth of a business is about preserving the core and the qualities that helped establish and maintain it, while focusing on expanding and growing all things related to numbers. “Never change what you truly believe in, and what has long worked for you, but indeed, do scale anything that you believe will improve results” Mansour explains. “My personal approach is a mixture of the above, blending my own character of leading by example, having clear goals, and providing more than what is needed, done in a conservative manner, with a ‘slowly but surely’ mentality.”

The Executive Summary: CFI Financial Group's Hisham Mansour's tips for entrepreneurs

1/ Lead by example “It’s important to be part of your team, and make sure you are always hearing them out, and take them into consideration on all things related to the operations, while reminding them that the hustle leads to personal and professional accomplishments.”

2/ Hire the right team “It’s key to onboard the right people, the ones that fit within your culture, creating harmony and efficiency when getting things done. Some people simply don’t fit in certain places, and they are better off in different environments. Supporting people is a given, but supporting the right individuals is an investment.”

3/ Be consistent in keeping the core values and quality of your products or services “What you believe or what has worked for you in the past is something you should always believe in and stick to. Don’t change your principles instead, improve them and expand with time. You also shouldn’t compromise quality for growth. The quality of what you offer should only improve while you gro w.”

4/ Learn from mistakes “It’s important to create a culture where mistakes are part of the game, but what truly makes a difference is learning from them. Make mistakes, but definitely do things right the next time, and learn something along the way.”

5/ Always evaluate your strategy “Evaluating your approach as time goes by is a lot better than dealing with the consequences of a strategy that suddenly breaks. Keep options and scenarios open, understand and be ready to apply contingency plans. and never be afraid to try something new. Expect the future, and prepare in advance for it.”

Related: Building A Legacy: Tala Al Ansari, Director, Scale2Dubai, District 2020

Tamara Pupic

Written By

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.