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Schroders - Fear and loathing on Cheapside

Was he the wrong man for the job or was the task too tough? Eight months after the departure of Richard Broadbent as head of global corporate finance, Schroders is no nearer to finding its direction. With his abrasive style, Broadbent caused shockwaves at an old city firm run by consensus. But he also produced results especially in Europe. Ironically, he came unstuck when he took his individualistic approach to the US and lost a fight with long-standing American managers. The fall out from his departure is still continuing. Nick Kochan reports


Will Samuel

Richard Broadbent was sitting in a half furnished apartment in New York. All around him was the chaos of half-unpacked suitcases, the remains of endless cups of coffee and scrawled-over letters and faxes from headquarters in London. He had been working for three and a half months, 18 hours a day, every day between late 1998 and March 1999, and he was dog tired.

He began to ask himself the same question as he had done each day for the last 100 days or so, and as he was repeatedly asking his wife. Why was he doing this, when his bosses in London at best didn't care, and at worst didn't like what he was trying to do? But on this occasion in March 1999, he decided that, instead of just thinking these gloomy thoughts, he would put them down on paper and not mince his words. More than that, he would tell his superiors that if they did not like what he was doing, they should tell him straight out, and he would go, and leave the mess to somebody else.

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