Dan Kirton works in the Equity broking industry and is a former professional rugby player. He was born in London, United Kingdom, but spent most of his formative years in New Zealand. Dan attended St. Patrick’s College, Silverstream in Wellington, continuing the legacy of his father, Earle, and two brothers, Ben and Nick. He played rugby for 1st XV before enrolling in the University of Otago in Dunedin, where he earned a degree in commerce. In 1999, upon returning to Wellington, Dan played on the Wellington Lions rugby team. He then moved to the UK, signing to play for the Saracens in the English Premiership. During this time, Dan Kirton suffered a debilitating back injury which effectively ended his rugby career. After 1 year off recovering Dan returned to the financial sector, taking a position at Refco on the government bonds and interest rate futures desk before moving with the rest of his team to Man Group, PLC. Following that, he worked for CLSA in the equities department before accepting a transfer to the company’s head office in Hong Kong to set up an Australian focused equity desk. In 2012, Dan Kirton was tasked to set up an office for Australian broker Bell Porter, also based out of Hong Kong, which is his current position. Dan has amassed more than 20 years of experience in financial markets.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I love how fast-paced financial markets are and how there is a constant flow of financial, political and social information to stay on top of. I’m lucky to have a job that requires me to be informed of what is going on in financial markets around the world. I appreciate that every day is unique and that you never stop learning.
What keeps you motivated?
Keeping motivated is pretty easy, as every day brings a new deal or challenge to get my teeth into, so that in itself keeps me fresh and ready to go. It’s motivating to work with executives (Founders/ CEO’s) that have thrown their heart and soul into a company, and then give us the opportunity to bring all their hard work over a number of years to the market. These guys drive and belief is infectious and extremely motivating.
Who has been your role model and why?
Growing up, my role models were mostly famous sports people; rugby players such as Jonah Lomu, Tana Umanga and Christian Cullen, who were famous players for the All Blacks. As I got older, my idea of role models broadened to include other sports, like football players Roy Keane or Sir Alex Fergusson. And then a variety of political figures and businessmen and women as I moved into the finance industry. My role models are mostly people I believe to be good people with good values who remember where they came from.
How do you maintain a solid work/life balance?
My wife and three young kids ensure that I keep a solid work/life balance. Children are a great leveler in that they don’t ever ask how your day was or what you did; they just care about being with their family and friends and having fun. That’s refreshing, and puts a lot of things I worry about in perspective.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
For anyone wanting to start in this industry I think you need to be motivated, hardworking, keen to learn, and accepting that you will make lots of mistakes along the way. Getting up and brushing yourself off is what makes you resilient and will help you be successful. If you like reading and following stories, companies, and people, and are proficient with numbers, then it’s a fantastic industry to work in, and incredibly interesting.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
This definitely would have been when I tore a disk in my back when I was playing rugby. At the time, I was halfway through my contract at Saracens. Not only was my career as I knew it ending, but it was also slightly daunting to know I was going to have to get back in the real world and find a job to support myself. If you throw in a lot of back pain in, the kind where I could barely bend down to put my shorts on in the morning, and the added effect that took on my mental health, it was by far the biggest obstacle I have ever had to overcome.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
Be kind, work hard, and be humble.
What’s your biggest accomplishment?
My wife and three children, as well as being part of a large extended family and awesome group of friends.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?
Live your life day-to-day, work hard and don’t sweat the small things!
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
You get out what you put in.
What trends in your industry excite you?
We are seeing a drastic change in the way we all do businesses and the way in which we live our lives. Like most industries, ours has had to transition from face-to-face meetings to Zoom, something I thought the financial industry would struggle with. I appreciate the efficiency of Zoom meetings but have always preferred to meet people in person whenever possible. However, it’s a very exciting trend to see that so many people that wouldn’t have been able to return to work in institutions and businesses are now able to, due to the increased flexibility shown by businesses in adapting to the changing working environment and the ability to work more from home. That’s a huge benefit for the financial industry that these valuable colleagues and their skills are not lost to us and the industry.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
Signing my first professional rugby contract, knowing how much hard work had gone into that for so many years and after a lot of setbacks.
A close second would have been my first day in Bell Potter’s brand new office in Hong Kong, which I had set up from scratch, including going to Ikea to buy cups, plates and cutlery for our office.