As Oscar Wilde said, there is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. For structured finance professionals, there can't be much that is more gratifying than being talked about at the annual Global ABS summit in Barcelona. With anyone who is anyone in attendance, it's the ultimate confirmation of your status in the industry. So when US monoline insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Company (FGIC) announced in June that it had hired Rick Watson, formerly head of ABS and CDOs, structured capital markets, at HSBC in London, the timing was perfect. The news went round the Hotel Arts and the adjoining bars and beach-clubs and Watson was a celebrity.
In two years at HSBC, Watson, 48, had helped increase the bank's European asset-backed origination and structuring business. In the month he left, HSBC lead managed about e1.7 billion-worth of ABS and CDO deals for clients from across the continent. By then, Watson had decided to take up a new challenge.
“This is a unique opportunity to start up a business that already has a brand,” says Watson, an American who has worked in Europe for 10 years – at HSBC, UBS, and at Bear Stearns, where he headed securitization business planning, origination and execution.