‘No vital need to be in London’

UK role: Jonathan Wragg
UK role: Jonathan Wragg
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JONATHAN Wragg was born and brought up in Sheffield and spent his childhood in Oughtibridge, attending Bradfield School before studying mathematics and physics at York University.

His first job was close to London as a trainee actuary, but pouring over statistical tables, working out life expectancies and the financial implications for insurance companies and pension funds wasn’t for him.

“After a year of that, I found out that those who said the job was for people who found accountancy too exciting were right. I didn’t want to do it long term,” he recalls.

Back in Sheffield, he trained with leading independent accountancy business Barber, Harrison & Platt before joining Arthur Andersen in Leeds.

It proved a pivotal move. One of Andersen’s big clients was Sheffield-based SIG, Europe’s leading supplier of insulation, interiors, exteriors and specialist construction products. As an audit senior, Jonathan Wragg found himself working with and then for SIG.

“It’s often the case, when you work with a company, and they get to know you,” he says.

From actuary, to accountancy, to the accounts team of a significant, public quoted company. The biggest in Sheffield in terms of turnover and, until the recession, the region’s most profitable company, according to Top 100 listing compiled by Jonathan Wragg’s former employers, BHP, and Star Business.

But the next step up the ladder was beckoning and Jonathan joined Rensburg.

“I started there in 1997 as group financial controller and took over as group financial director in 2000.”

Rensburg’s was quoted on the London Stock Exchange and was going for growth, acquiring businesses including long-established Sheffield stockbrokers and investment managers Nicholson Barber.

The group owned Northern Registrars, the fourth largest share registration business in the country.

“The big thing for the business came about in 2005, when Rensburg did a deal with Investec, which had a similar business, called Carr Sheppard Crosthwaite, which was predominantly southern based,” says Jonathan Wragg.

As part of the deal, Investec took a 47 per cent stake in what became Rensburg Sheppards.

“They obviously liked the business and thought it had good, long-term prospects,” Jonathan Wragg adds.

That interest crystallised last year, when Investec acquired the remaining 53 per cent of the business, putting it together with investment management operations it had in South Africa and elsewhere.

The new business needed a chief executive and Rensburg Sheppards’ chief executive, Steve Elliott, who had worked for Investec in the past, got the job, creating a vacancy in the UK business, for which Jonathan Wragg was the ideal choice.

“I had been group financial director for coming up to 10 years – and that is long enough for anybody,” says Jonathan.

Working from Sheffield as group financial director, Jonathan Wragg saw no reason to move his office.

“Sheffield is a nice, central location and there is no vital need to be in London,” says Jonathan Wragg.

“The reality is that, in the age of email and video conferencing, we are still a people business and, with offices all over the UK it is important to spend time travelling around, so it doesn’t make that much difference where I am based.”