Fairer and more humane
There are more than 20 trading firms in operation in Australia. Here, founder Rob Keldoulis explains how VivCourt’s unique model sets it apart from the others and benefits both staff and society.
Q How does the VivCourt model work?
A I started VivCourt with a small group of experienced trading professionals with whom I shared a vision. I provided most of the capital and the others generously supplied their intellectual property in the form of knowledge about how to run a trading firm. I wanted the money to eventually be repaid, but none of us were claiming ownership or a stake in the business. Instead of shareholders, we have a charitable trust. Like any trading firm, we’re very competitive and dedicated to getting the most out of the markets. But about 50 percent of our revenue goes to compensation for staff and 50 percent goes to the trust. In that way, staff know that for every dollar they earn half goes to them and half goes to charity.
Q What prompted you to explore the idea in the first place?
A I worked as a trader for 20 years prior to starting VivCourt and I helped run an open and transparent firm. I noticed that staff struggled with the fact that founders controlled most of the equity and that the success of the company flowed mostly to them. There was no real reward for people who came in later and staff were managed in a way that extracted maximum value from them rather than caring for them as people. It got me wondering, what would happen if a trading firm had no shareholders? What if instead of managing staff members to get maximum benefit, the company was run in a way that put their interests first and tried to do some social good along the way?
Q So, VivCourt started as a type of social experiment?
A It did. Trading can be a wonderful career, but there’s no function to it other than to make money. Doctors heal the sick and lawyers practise law, but a trader’s one job is to generate income for themselves. After they make their money, a lot of people have trouble finding meaning in the industry. I wanted to know if it was possible to take what is basically the most capitalist job in the world and create purpose out of it. Could trading be something that also helped make the world a better place?
Q How does the model benefit staff?
A We are able to pay competitive salaries and bonuses, but we also believe we have a social contract with the people who choose to work here. We don’t look at employees as a commodity. Some people come here and want to work very long days and others are at a different stage in life and have families. We should and we can accommodate both at VivCourt. And we also believe that by being exposed to the social good that we do here, can support people to become the person they wish to be.