Sebastian Fuz came to the UK in 1996 fresh out of school, well ahead of the latest wave of young people from Central Europe and long before Poland became a member of the EU in 2004. He came just for fun, because communist Poland at the time was bleak and uninspiring. Now he runs City and Country Financial Services (CCFS), a flourishing multi-lingual, whole of market company from offices in prestigious Fleet Street, London, with his business partner, Lina Bourdon.
CCFS’s comprehensive range of services includes mortgages, protection, savings, business protection, will writing, investments and retirement planning.
A great strength of CCFS is its diversity. Their slogan is “We speak your language”. This is quite literally true. It serves customers in English, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Hindi, Gujarati and Swahili – a perfect offering for the cosmopolitan marketplace of London.
It is always wise to make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you.
In fact, like many businesses, CCFS initially suffered a slowdown at the beginning of the various coronavirus tiers and lockdowns. However, as a result of their broad offer of services, Sebastian’s company is currently as busy as ever again, having partially diversified to concentrate partly on commercial finance.
Maybe some of the secret of Sebastian’s success is his ability to see the positive and power through in any situation. He says of his first job in the UK, as a restaurant kitchen porter:
“I started with the dishwashing at the back of the kitchen. Saying that, I always say that I was not dishwashing, I was actually drying them, so somehow I was upgraded straight away… so I was well happy with that!”
Of the possible barriers of doing business in the UK as a Pole, he says:
“Everybody can see I’m a foreigner. I’m not going to hide away from it. So, if someone wants to work with me… then I’m fine with it, and if they don’t, then I’m fine with it also. It’s not a problem… Saying that, probably I know as well that it might be difficult for me being a foreigner to come to certain meetings, but on the same note, it would probably be difficult to meet certain of my Polish clients for an English person. So, I think it’s a balancing act where you gain a bit and you lose a bit, so, you know, it’s fine. It works for me to be honest with you, Bill.”
This same sense of equilibrium is to the fore when it comes to Sebastian’s life at home, which he shares with his wife, Magda and his two children. He is a keen home cook and includes his children in the kitchen whenever he can.
They love to help him make his signature dishes of salmon with artichokes and fresh mushrooms in a cheesy sauce or baked aubergine with mozzarella.
Sebastian’s son is involved with a local football academy where Sebastian volunteers, in order to give something back to the community.
Sebastian and the team at CCFS see the benefits of paying it forward. They have assisted several business clients in applications for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) on a pro-bono basis, contributing what they can to help in these unprecedented times of crisis.
It is said that a true leader never asks their followers to do something he/she would not do or has not done himself. If that is true, Sebastian is superbly qualified, having started from the bottom and climbed every rung.
Sebastian worked his way up from kitchen porter, with limited schoolboy English in 1996, to management of prestigious restaurants. In 2007, when he was unable to secure finance to buy his own place, he decided it was time to pivot into Finance.
Knowledge is Power
He studied, took examinations, passed them and qualified as an Independent Financial Advisor. Then he employed the same tenacity in his new career, studying for further qualifications in order to offer a wider range of financial services, including pensions, savings & investments as well as the crucial commercial finance that he was denied when he had hoped to open as a restauranteur.
His determination and commitment were noticed at City and Country Financial Services and 5 or 6 years ago the owner, Lina Bourdon, invited him to become a partner. Now he runs the company alongside her.
What’s the Secret?
At the end of our interview, Sebastian revealed what for him was the secret of business. Want to learn more? Listen to the whole interview HERE.
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