Plate-spinners make good fund administrators

By using centrifugal force entertainers keep hundreds of different plates spinning at one time. But, as Peter Toyberg, Group Managing Director of PEA explains, music hall performers are not alone in keeping many initiatives moving in the right direction simultaneously.

We’ve all seen it on TV and have marvelled at the dexterity and concentration shown by ‘the plate spinner’. Normally a man with long sticks and a glamorous assistant, frantically dashing around a TV studio rescuing ceramics from certain death.

But spinning plates is not a new entertainment phenomenon invented to astound viewers of Saturday night television. The idea came from the Han dynasty in China when potters had to catch the attention of potential customers. They would show off their skills by spinning their freshly made plates on the top of bamboos. This novel approach to marketing was undeniably innovative but not entirely risk-free. European circuses and British music halls were soon full of jugglers and spinners who captivated audiences of all ages.

The Guinness World Record for spinning multiple plates is held by David Spathaky who spun 108 plates simultaneously on television in 1996. He had previously held and broken his own record (and thousands of plates presumably!) four times since 1986.

Plate spinning relies on the gyroscopic effect of centrifugal force and is the perfect practical demonstration of a scientific theory. A spinning top also illustrates the physics of the gyroscope. From the 1980s onward, plate spinner Andrew Van Buren used physics to earn a good living, regularly appearing on television and performing around the world.

Plate spinning isn’t rocket science but you do need quick reflexes and a good sense of balance and it also helps if you have the right kind of plates. The plates from your kitchen cupboard probably won’t be suitable. That would be an expensive mistake! Plates for spinning need an indentation in the center that holds the stick or dowel in place as the plate rotates. They also have an upraised rim on the bottom that catches the dowel.

To start spinning, you hang the plate on this rim and rotate the stick. As it gains momentum it moves from a diagonal position to a horizontal one. At full speed, it doesn’t wobble at all, simply spinning in place. At all times, the plates need momentum. The more you put on, the more you have to watch. If one stops, then the whole thing crashes.

It was during the 1980s that Andrew Van Buren coined the phrase ‘plate spinning’ when referring to busy people who have a number of initiatives on the go that they need to be in control of. I’m sure there are many businesses and individuals who have tried to spin too many plates at one time and have ended up with nothing but a dustpan and brush and a floor full of broken crockery. The secret is to challenge yourself but also know exactly what you’re capable of.

In Denmark, Sweden and Guernsey the PEA offices are full of very good plate spinners. We understand what our clients need and the members of our broad-shouldered team are brilliant at servicing a multitude of complex requirements.

Today’s business environment lends itself to a completely different administrative horizon from the past. It requires professionals to be highly versatile, efficient, technically astute, technologically savvy, and able to deal with complex challenges on a daily basis.

Clients want a service partner who can offer them an administrative service that is designed specifically for their specific requirements. Often those requirements change so our clients seek flexibility and innovation when dealing with operational challenges. With this understanding, PEA has looked at the traditional administration model and has reinvented it.

Our new model is based on ensuring we have a multi-skilled team who are not intimidated by a few plates and a pile of sticks. We pride ourselves on being able to accommodate our client’s requests and our team is trained to multi-task, able to take on a whole range of different undertakings. We are highly innovative with technical challenges and we have become extremely adept at spinning a whole variety of crockery items with the absolute minimum of breakages. All this while delivering exactly what clients want and need.

Peter Toyberg is Group Managing Director of PEA and holds an MSc in Economics from Copenhagen Business School and has extensive experience in the management of private equity funds. Peter specialises in technical fund structuring, tax reviews, AIFMD, turn-key back office services solutions, and depositary solutions.

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