Investment bankers have a reputation for being alpha male, aggressive types who look to succeed in all aspects of life. Yves Soyfer, the new chief executive officer for boutique investment bank Exotix’s Americas business may not conform to all the stereotypes, but the fact that he took a hobby of Jiu Jitsu and then made it to the World Championships, demonstrates the sort of commitment and single-mindedness required to make it to the top in the industry.
His career includes stints at Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and latterly Mizuho, and part of the remit of his new position is to extend Exotix’s investment banking business into North America and expand its fixed income division into Central and Southern America.
Can you give us an idea of Exotix’s expansion plans for the Americas?
We will continue to grow the business in Latin America, by focusing on countries, companies and institutions which need a tailor-made approach and services. Our expansion plans are all about hiring open minded, hungry, dynamic and talented people who are excited about delivering the best financial solutions and products for our clients.
Which countries in these regions do you believe offer the most growth opportunities and why?
I don’t want to focus on individual countries, but generally across the region, there are a lot of opportunities in the energy sector, in areas such as oil and gas, and renewable energy. Raising financing for oil companies and their suppliers, especially on the E&P side, has been an area where we have been able to build up a strong track record.
How did you break into investment banking?
I started in London with Credit Suisse First Boston in the 1990s – it was one of the most innovative and dynamic investment banks at the time. To give an idea, CSFB and a small number of other banks like JP Morgan created the first credit derivative products. The thing to remember is, at the time institutional investors in say, France, were only investing in their domestic, French Franc bond issues. For some institutional investors, credit derivatives gave them access to international credit, which was simply not available to them otherwise, as they were not issuing bonds in French Francs at a fixed rate coupon.
What was your biggest break?
Raising the first Sharia-compliant venture leasing fund in capital markets using CDO technology. I did this in the early 2000s when I was at Deutsche Bank. The real satisfaction came from the fact that it was all about innovation and team work.
What three things should someone do before stepping into an interview with you?
Be clear in your mind about what you can bring to our organisation, be prepared to be challenged, and be ready to explain why you want to join the team.
Imagine I want to work for you, what would make you hire me?
High energy levels, a desire to succeed and an entrepreneurial attitude.
What’s a surefire way NOT to get hired by you?
Pretending to be someone or something that you are not.
What would you do if you weren’t working in finance?
Coaching athletes. I love sport and I love helping young athletes to develop. Being with young people is what keeps me open and energetic.
What do you do to relax?
I practice Jiu Jitsu, a martial art based around self-defence and balance. I practice with friends very competitively wherever I go, and compete where possible. I won the World Championship Submission Grappling in the over-40s division in 2010. It was in Los Angeles and was a fantastic experience.