Nick Leeson, the Barings Bank derivatives broker whose fraudulent trades who brought down Britain's oldest investment bank in 1995, has carved out a good living as an after-dinner speaker since leaving prison in 1999. Now he may be putting lectures on hold for a full-time job helping strained Irish borrowers manage their bank relationships.
Leeson, 46, has accepted a role in the new Irish office of GDP Partnership, a mediation firm that advises borrowers trying to renegotiate soured debts.
Headhunters in Ireland said that these roles typically pay between €120k and 180k. This pales in comparison to the fees Leeson has been earning on the after-dinner speaking circuit. Leeson was making around £40k (€47k) a week, charging £7.5k (plus VAT) to speak in the UK and between £10-20k for overseas engagements.
Neil Martin, a spokesperson for Nick Leeson, said that he’s “still very much active on the speaking circuit and shall continue to do so. In fact, he’s off to Germany this afternoon for a keynote in the morning.” Still, the days of speaking in Moscow, Dubai and Australia in the same week don’t sit well with a full-time position, though.
Leeson – who has lived in Ireland for the past 10 years – spoke to local broadcaster RTE about the move. “There might be wry smiles from people when they think of me walking back into a bank to try to negotiate on their behalf,” he said. “I have had to face into adversity both financial, health and many other different aspects of it, so there is a certain degree of empathy with what people are facing. It is daunting.”
Leeson is one of a number of former bankers helping distressed borrowers manage their relationships with local financial institutions following the real estate melt down in Ireland.
Paul Cunningham, the former head of Bank of Scotland (Ireland), together with the firm’s ex-head of retail banking, Antoinette Dunne, now run Business Partners, a consultancy that offers advice to companies and individuals on negotiating distressed commercial debt.
“Most ex-bankers moving into this area are setting up their own consultancies and using their expertise to help people restructure their debt. This is big business,” said Eoin Blake, director of Irish financial services headhunters Lincoln Search & Selection.