Cazenove rides again!
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Opinion

Cazenove rides again!

More blue blood than bad blood at former chief executive’s book launch.

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Bill Winters, David Mayhew and Robert Pickering at a JPMorgan/Cazenove news conference in London, November 5, 2004. Photo: Reuters

To the exquisite gallery of Philip Mould & Co on Pall Mall, where most of the neckties being worn in London on February 22 had gathered for the launch of Robert Pickering’s memoir of his time at Cazenove, the firm he joined in 1985 and went on to lead as CEO until his departure in 2008.

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As he recounts in Blue Blood: Cazenove in the age of global banking, Pickering’s time at the top of the venerable broker included the upheaval of incorporation and the abandonment of the firm’s historic partnership model, and the even more stressful period of a joint venture with JPMorgan that culminated in a full buyout by the US bank after Pickering had already walked.

Friends and former colleagues rubbed shoulders to congratulate Pickering for finishing a project that has taken two years. We failed to spot Bill Winters – these days running Standard Chartered, but in Pickering’s time the co-head of JPMorgan’s investment bank – but to judge by Blue Blood’s account of the breakdown of the two men’s relationship during the JV days, he may not have been top of the guest list. Former Cazenove chairman David Mayhew, meanwhile, looks as energetic as ever, still working at the age of 82.

Pickering had it in mind to write the book ever since he left Cazenove, but wisely waited for the dust to settle before finally summoning the effort to get stuck into the project. Writing the book wasn’t therapy or anything like that, he told the assembled throng, and with Mayhew the only other person who could have written the tale but busy working “flat out”, Pickering said he realised it fell to him to do it.

For inspiration and encouragement along the way, he had Salman Rushdie’s famous dictum: “Writers are people who finish books”. Pickering has certainly done that, and even though he modestly encouraged his guests to buy copies to help him out, it will be worth their trouble: as our review of the book notes, it is an engaging story deftly told, and (mostly) free of the bitterness that he might in any case have been excused.

At the start of the Blue Blood project, Pickering worried whether he had a book in him at all. But not the least remarkable aspect of his story was his elevation to Cazenove chief executive at the tender age of just 41, meaning that he still has plenty of scope to embark on a second career as author now. Watch this space?

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