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Colm McCarthy

President, Bank of America, Asia

When Euromoney catches up with Colm McCarthy in Singapore he's playing host. His boss, William Fall, president of Bank of America, international, is in town as part of an inspection of McCarthy's territory. Flying in from Mumbai that morning, Fall is off to Sydney in the evening for a couple of days, before heading back to New York via Japan. But McCarthy appears to be relaxed. Rightly so - in one of the toughest years globally, Bank of America managed to report its best figures out of Asia in 50 years. In 2002 its return on equity was 30%. For someone who admits that he stumbled into banking, McCarthy should be happy with his achievements.

The accidental banker's career began when he graduated from University College Dublin with a masters degree in business studies.

Initially he had intended to become an accountant. But he admits that his reasons were dubious. "The university had just introduced a fast-track course in accountancy that meant the usual three years of articles could be avoided," he says. "And we could also stay in student life a little longer." But things didn't go to plan.

A book-keeping error After graduation he spent the summer touring Europe in a 15-year-old Mini with three friends.

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