Awards for Excellence 2013: Off the record






"If you think I’ve got someone peeling grapes for me and popping them in my mouth, then you’re sadly mistaken"

An investment bank chief says a good year certainly did not come easily


"I can tell you what we are saying, and then I can explain to you why we are being so vague"

A conversation about future returns on equity with a bank chief executive layers transparency with opacity


"My dad told me if I ever talked to people about how much I got paid, he’d disown me. And then I became an investment banker..."

This banker had a bit of a flashback when we asked him to talk about whether his firm could attract new talent through its compensation strategy


Banker: "We did the whole thing, from a bridge loan to a break-up. We pledged the entire multi-billion dollar financing"

Euromoney: "That’s really interesting. When did this deal come out?"

Banker: "Oh the deal never actually happened. We were outbid"

Asked to use a deal to illustrate the unique capabilities of his firm, one dealmaker comes up with a curious example


"If we put on $10 billion of risk-weighted assets and make $200 million, no one notices. If we do that and lose $200 million, we’re all out of a job"

An investment bank CEO explains the risk-averse nature of his job these days


"My CEO is in one ear telling me I need to keep growing everything and be number one in everything; and he’s in the other ear telling me to reduce costs, remove risk and make sure we don’t lose any money on anything"

Life’s not easy when an investment bank’s boss is playing both good cop and bad cop at the same time


"Unconventional gas is a big theme. It’s also known as tight gas. Or trapped gas"

A project finance banker takes the look on our faces to be one of incomprehension, rather than a desperate attempt to suppress a fit of the giggles


"Although 2012 was frankly difficult, as much if not more so than 2011, events unfolding in the last part of the year have turned out to be rather constructive"

Not the most auspicious start to a best bank award pitch that we have ever received


"I am not free of responsibility for the risk committee just because I am the CEO of the bank"

This leading bank chief knows exactly where the buck stops


"I told him: if you think the French and the Germans are going to leave the position of London as a financial centre untouched you’re living in cloud-cuckoo land"

A top investment banker on his words of warning to a senior Bank of England official about the implications of a Brexit


"They’re facing a wall of deferrals, and they don’t realize it yet"

Is the investment banking industry storing up a future liability issue with its new compensation structures? One banker thinks so


Banker A: The rate rise of 1994 was well flagged. Everyone knew about it, but it still nearly killed some firms

Banker B: It didn’t nearly kill some firms, it did kill some firms. I know because I was working at one of them

"(Bank A) didn’t make the top five in any European currency...(Bank B) was off the pace in Asia...(Bank C) struggled and (Bank D) faded..."

It is not enough for this bank to succeed in its one-page pitch, others must fail


"The key factors affecting performance were the deterioration in the quality of the loan book as a result of the intense political uncertainty and ongoing deep recession, which led to a sharp rise in loan delinquencies. The decline in domestic net interest income, due to the higher cost of raising funds, also had an adverse effect on the bottom line"

It’s an unusual pitch for best bank in a country, but Euromoney admires the honesty


"I find it so insulting when competitors say that we’re a firm they’d be really scared of, if we ever got our act together. We are getting a little better everywhere"

A senior investment banker shows how self-deprecation is the new chest-beating


"Chief architect?!!! I’m having to hold myself back from coming down the telephone line and grabbing you by the throat"

A banker takes extreme exception to Euromoney calling her former boss the chief architect of the business she now runs


"We served as adviser to X in the announced merger with Y... which was however cancelled at a later stage by the Troika"

This firm’s desperation to be named best investment bank in one of Europe’s PIGs leads it to overlook our rule on including only completed M&A deals in pitches. It wins it a big damp-squib award, though