Game of Loans

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WARNING – CONTAINS SPOILERS: It’s amazing how many senior bankers are addicted to the HBO series Game of Thrones. Or then again, perhaps it’s not.

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This is a tale of greed and intense rivalry, of power and how it corrupts, of intrigue, and of naked ambition, and where anyone will knife anyone else if it helps them get ahead. A bit like banking then, only with a few more dragons and zombies. As the arch-schemer Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger, famously said: "Chaos is not a pit, it’s a ladder."

So, we thought, if Game of Thrones was set in the real world of banking, rather than in the fictional world of Westeros, which top bankers would be which leading characters? 

Using the best of our imagination, we’ve decided to christen this series…

Game of Loans  

JAMIE DIMON/TYWIN LANNISTER

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The patriarch. The all-powerful one, with the money and the influence. The man no one messes with. The Lion of Wall Street. Let’s just hope none of the children he rejected (think Bill Winters, Jes Staley, Mike Cavanagh) catch him on the privy when they’re in the wrong mood.... [but seriously, we wish Jamie a speedy recovery from his illness].


JAMES GORMAN/STANNIS BARATHEON

He wants to be the king. But he needed money and an army to help him reclaim the throne. Rather than go to the Bank of Braavos, he got both by stealing Smith Barney off Citi for a song. Did he use Melisandre’s dark magic to extract such a good price from Vikram Pandit? We think we should be told. 

GARY COHN/’THE MOUNTAIN’ GREGOR CLEGANE

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Feared warrior. Merciless. Powerful. Does his master’s dirty work. Big fella. Don’t mess with him. Still, he’s never crushed anyone’s head with his bare hands on the trading floor, we hope....


ANTONY JENKINS/KING TOMMEN

First of all, the previous king of Barclays met with a sudden and horrible demise. And, frankly, who really expected this inexperienced lad – so naive in the ways of investment banking – to sit on the throne?

VIKRAM PANDIT/NED STARK

He was pulled back to the heart of Westeros (OK, Citi) from a life of quiet obscurity in the North (actually, Old Lane). And he never really looked comfortable in the bear pit of Wall St/King’s Landing. But he stuck to his principles. And then had his head chopped off. 

STUART GULLIVER/TYRION LANNISTER

No, not because he’s a bit short. Because he doesn’t get enough credit for the battles that he’s winning at HSBC, at least from the stock market. And he may well be the smartest of them all.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN/BRANDON STARK

We don’t really understand how Goldman keeps doing it. Blankfein seems to see things that others don’t see. He must be a warg.

ANSHU JAIN/’LITTLEFINGER’ PETYR BAELISH

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People kept saying that he could not go any further. But ambitious Anshu became Deutsche’s Master of Coin, running the investment bank, and then kept acquiring titles. Has taken the ultimate gamble to be the most powerful man in the kingdom – he’s all-in on FICC. Stunning success or a horrible death are the binary outcomes. 


BRIAN MOYNIHAN/MANSE RAYDER

Everyone thought it was impossible to unite the disparate tribes of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch and make them an army to be reckoned with. Moynihan has. Now the investment bank is trying to climb the wall of Wall Street. Can Moynihan lead them over the top?

ANTONIO HORTA-OSÓRIO/’THE VIPER’ OBERYN MARTELL

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Charismatic prince from a foreign land. Sometimes looks a little pleased with himself. Determined to right the wrongs of the past (eg Eric Daniels, Victor Blank, who are probably now Whitewalkers). Let’s hope he never has a confrontation with Gary Cohn (see above).


BRADY DOUGAN/JAMIE LANNISTER

He’s devoted his life to being the head of Credit Suisse’s King’s Guard. But people are constantly questioning if he is the right man for the job. Particularly since he lost a limb after CS’s criminal conviction and $2 billion-plus fine.

ANA BOTÍN/CERSEI LANNISTER

Daughter of a powerful father. Fiercely protective of her brood. You underestimate her abilities and her will to win at your peril. 

JEAN-LAURENT BONNAFÉ/’REEK’ THEON GREYJOY

This is no doubt how the French bank’s CEO feels after being forced to pay US authorities a record fine. At just under $9 billion, it’s a particularly painful snip. 

Euromoney welcomes comments from our readers and suggestions for other characters. Send them to chorwood@euromoney.com

And one thing is for sure: for the banking industry, post the financial crisis, winter has already come.