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"British bankers are nicer than the Americans."

The self-effacing British banker with a brain the size of a planet

One of the best bankers of a generation has retired. Anyone who worked with him will know who I mean: David Soanes at UBS was a quality, quality banker of the kind you don't come across often. While I wish him well during his retirement, he will be much missed. 

Soanes began his career at UBS in 1991 after graduating from Cambridge University. His entire career was spent with the bank, where he moved to bigger and better positions. After initially specialising in financial institutions group (FIG) debt capital markets (DCM), Soanes ran all investment grade DCM, then all capital markets for EMEA. He played a key role in stabilising the British banking system during the financial crisis, but you would never have known it. David Soanes is a nice guy.

The new book by ex-Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack reinforces the impression of Soanes' niceness. While Mack was out there playing pranks and putting sushi in telephones, Soanes' excellent sense of humour was never at anyone else's expense. Most of the time the joke was on him and no matter how senior he became, he never took himself too seriously. Despite having a brain the size of a planet, he was self-effacing and a pleasure to work with. It showed. He stayed at the same bank for 30 years and inspired huge loyalty among clients and from his team. 

Soanes' approach was different in style to that of pugnacious US investment bankers. It's something that junior bankers in the City or on Wall Street should learn from.  

Alexander Sutton is a pseudonym

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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