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James Williams interviewed by Katharine Haydon

Williams, James, 1950- (speaker, male; interviewee; asset manager and company director)
2009-05-21, 2009-07-15, 2010-09-21, 2010-09-24, 2010-09-27, 2011-01-14

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  • Title:
    James Williams interviewed by Katharine Haydon
  • Contributor: Williams, James, 1950-; Haydon, Katharine
  • Other Titles:
    Collection title: An Oral History of Barings

  • Rights: jointly BL and The Baring Archive
  • Place Name: British Library, London
  • Description:
    Track 1 [01:25:20] [Session one: 21 May 2009] James Piran Williams [JW] born Scorrier, Cornwall 21 August 1950. Origins of father’s family in Cornwall. Age of father on marriage. Death of father when JW aged eight. JW educated Harrow School and Cambridge University. [02:00] Describing Mother’s family; involvement with Lancashire textile industry. Mother being a nurse; mother meeting father when nursing him after his escape from Italian POW camp. Mother keeping a diary throughout adult life. Mother’s death. JW younger of two boys. Upbringing in Cornwall; proximity to the sea. [06:00] Describing childhood family home. Brother now living in family home and JW having returned to Cornwall. Comments on strength of roots. Recollections of father being hazy; noting facility for remembering voices. Father invalided out of army; father involved with county life. Necessity for mother to learn household management after father’s death. Comments on mother not remarrying. Father (Brigadier Stephen Williams) b.1896; decorated in both World Wars. Mother named Margaret née Brodie-Hoare Financial circumstances of parents; father’s estate exempt from inheritance tax. Mother supported emotionally by relatives. [13:00] Home life; recalling a particular letter from mother. Religion not of great influence in household; mentions strong Methodist presence in Cornwall. Politics; family’s attitude and general attitude toward; mentions later consideration of entering politic. [16:30] Details of schooling to thirteen; Hawtreys prep school; family tradition of attending Harrow. Describing leisure activities including sailing and riding; emphasis on outdoor life. Parents’ interest in riding; keeping horses; JW’s being responsibility for horses in holidays. Description of family farm; farming beef cattle (Red Devon). Reference to local friendships; being part of post-war baby bulge. Rarely going away for holidays. Not coming home during school term. [24:30] Harrow School; boys categorizes as academic or sporting; 1960s atmosphere in public schools; strategy for avoiding being bullied. Speculation on effects of bullying; hierarchy being based on sporting ability; JW’s dislike of system. Presence of brother three years ahead. Use of names between boys. School friendships; keeping in touch; attending a House reunion. [30:30]


    Track 1 [cont. from 30:30] Academic ability; interest in history, English and economics. Recollection of masters; influence of Jeremy Lemmon on JW’s ability to write well. ‘O’ levels being taken during a difficult period for Harrow. Sporting ability. Describing location of Harrow; JW’s love of outdoors. Describing mother; visits from mother. Food at Harrow. Lack of particular career aspirations at school. [38:00] Contact with girls; parties and female friends in Cornwall. ‘A’ levels. Application to Oriel College, Oxford; being tutored for entrance exam by Dr. Robert Franklin; rejection by Oriel. [43:28] Acceptance by Churchill College, Cambridge; background to college. Reason for aiming at Oxbridge. [45:46] Brother’s post-school career and return to Cornwall. Mother giving support and encouragement. Reason for not considering a career in the forces. [48:56] Reading history at Cambridge; description of university life; people met, clubs joined including Botanical Society. Living in college; taking 2nd year lodging in ‘seedy’ location. Mother as source of interest in botany. Playing Polo; University Polo Club; Prince Charles as a contemporary at Cambridge. Ability at Polo; explaining handicap system. [57:50] Comments on mix of people at Cambridge and diversity of conversation; late 1960s an era of universities being particularly political; JW’s attending Cambridge Union then run by Charles Clarke. Meeting Harriet Harman: Elizabeth Symons (Baroness Symons); attending Conservative Club run by Richard Ryder. Comments on depth of debate and discussion; seeing Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Academic life; fascination with economic history; studying medieval history; tutorial system. [1:05:20] Holidays; travelling. Participating in Running of the Bulls in Pamplona; attraction to ‘Latino’ approach; describing a journey through Spain. [1:08:19] Working with horses and farm work in holidays. Girlfriends at Cambridge; circumstance of meeting future wife when at Cambridge. [1:11:15] Not having fixed career plans or career guidance at Cambridge; desire to travel; having a general interest in politics. [1:14:01] Joining Lloyds Bank International, Queen Victoria Street; learning Spanish with prospect of Latin America posting; describing application and interview process. Application to other employers including a stockbroker. Living in Pimlico flat share. [1:17:43] Describing learning the work of ‘reconciliations clerk’ at Lloyds; noting presence in City of workers starting aged 17-18; necessity of doing time in the ‘boiler room’ as a graduate. [1:21:03] Describing the hierarchy and work ethos in the department; work as not intellectually challenging but good for self-discipline; feeling of then lacking self discipline.


    Track 2 [02:11:00] [Session two: 15 July 2009] General comments on formative years being in 1960s, an era of cultural change; being part of post-war generation; relationship to parents generation in comparison to own children’s generation. [06:40] Culture of the 1960s; awareness of drugs; preference for alcohol. [12:10] Staring salary at Lloyds; having an overdraft [13:45] Reflecting on issue of social class; ability to mix with people; later finding Barings to be a meritocracy; belief in not relying on ‘social credit’ to get on; origins of social circle and friendships. [19:12] Continuing from 1972 as reconciliation clerk; learning Spanish in hope of overseas posting; moving to Lloyds Investment Department. Working in Investment Research Department; influence of, and learning from, Brian Williams and Peter Wann. [23:38] Researching pipeline and oil platform company as example of work. Recalling difficult era of oil crisis, inflation, falling stock markets and IRA bombing campaign; concern for job security; feeling mid-70s to be formative years; having friend who lost on property market. [28:45] Reflecting on early career choice; financial world and the City not then as important, or rewards as good, as later. [30:06] Becoming engaged to Sarah [SW], 1974; SW’s background; circumstances of SW’s father’s death in an accident prior to wedding; effect of death on JW and the need to take on responsibilities. Living with SW’s mother in Newbury and commuting; not seeing a future at Lloyds; circumstances of leaving Lloyds. Having purchased house in Chelsea; going to India for three months; impressions of Calcutta and details of trip. [36:50] Being interested in Hong Kong; as a place; HK’s financial markets; staying with friends in HK and making contacts; feeling little prospect then of a job in HK; returning to UK with SW suffering form hepatitis. [41:25] Initial relationship with SW; describing character of SW; feeling of being compatible; describing SW’s appearance. Having lived with SW before marriage; proposing to SW and her reaction. [47:07] Relationship with SW’s family and her father; occasion of telling SW’s father of engagement; SW’s father being company secretary to Swire Group. SW’s relationship with JW’s mother; being young at time of marriage. [50:20] Details of wedding at Douai Abbey; SW being Roman Catholic; happy atmosphere at wedding despite death of SW’s father. Best man being Charles Tallents. Changing honeymoon destination from Greece to Sardinia. Details of maternal grandparents; describing maiden aunt Jean in Shropshire [56:43] JW having to break news of death of drowned boy to boy’s father; effect of death of SW’s father on family [58:38, pause for phone] and on JW. Reflecting on male role-models in life; belief that interaction between generations is now different; then relationship with brother. [1:03:55] Purchasing first house, a Chelsea cottage; ability to rent it when away; house as functional not as investment; reflecting on age at marriage. [1:08:00] Resigning from Lloyds; uncertainty of having career in financial sector. Mentions meeting Andrew Stainton, a professional plant hunter. SW knowing Belinda Wright, a wildlife conservationist in India. Consideration of joining the army; 1975 being a difficult time in the job market. [1:15:50]


    Track 2 [cont. from 1:15:50] Reflecting on 1970s as a difficult financial time with unemployment and a brain drain; Britain’s place in the world; feeling Britain was not the place to be with ambition. [1:19:50] Circumstance of receiving letter from Eddie Carbutt of Henderson Administration [HA] with offer of job in HK; SW encouraging JW to respond; being interviewed by Eddie Carbutt at the City Club during heat wave; meeting Raymond Cazalet, Managing Director, HA; negotiating starting salary; being appointed number two to John Bolsover in HK office; spending three months in London learning job. [1:24:52] Describing the business of HA, an old-fashioned investment management company. City etiquette and hierarchy; not feeling part of the City; not wishing to join the City Club as example of disliking the traditional City. BAM [Baring Asset Management] not being interested in old-fashioned City; ‘old school tie’ not used by JW’s generation. [1:31:50] Offices of HA in Austin Friars; learning about the Far East and how HA worked. Key and lamp telephone system and international phone calls. Contact with John Bolsover [JB]; occasion of hearing JB speaking Japanese on the phone; becoming close to JB. [1:35:20] Moving to HK in 1976; accommodation arrangements. Size of HA office in HK; business of HA investing in Japan; there being a community of similar businesses in HK; HK suiting JW and SW; HA having share of Chinese Junk. Comparing UK then a ‘sad and miserable place’ to HK full of people looking for opportunities. SW and JW being keen to go to HK; contact with UK; use of telex machines; SW making a visit to UK. London property being rented out; tax in HK as low and accommodation paid for. Reflecting on excitement over East Asia stimulating ambition in JW. [1:46:10] Describing ex-pat community and HK social life; joining the Polo Club; socializing with people from Jardines. Working hours being longer in HK; people being more business focused. Having more money; having domestic help. [1:49:30] Circumstances of becoming involved with Barings HK office; importance of Jonathan Taylor; forming joint venture between Barings/Hendersons and then Hendersons BSM, 1976. [1:52:35] JW having little prior knowledge of Barings; ability to set up joint venture with minimum of complexity; feeling HK to be a freer business environment than London. Business being with Asia/Japan; inability to be located in Japan; dealing with Japanese securities firms. [1:57:45] Approach to doing business with Japanese; not turning height into physical superiority; having friendships with Japanese; Japanese approach to foreigners. Trips to Japan; visits to learn about companies, contact with brokers. Enjoyment of visits to Tokyo/Japan; enjoyment of the food, the people and city; learning sufficient Japanese to get about. [2:09:00] Explaining use of information gathered on trips in managing a portfolio of investments; process and criteria for choosing what to include in a portfolio.


    Track 3 [02:30:40] [Session three: 21 September 2010] Views on 2010 General Election and resulting coalition government; views on the Alternative Voting system versus first past the post. [03:00] Continuing from previous session when located in HK; title being Investment Manager; explaining process of building a client portfolio, seeking potential companies for investment; explaining Japanese market as ‘inefficient’ allowing for shares to be under-priced; challenge of knowing when to sell shares. Explaining clients as mainly financial institutions looking for long-term growth in Japan; examples of clients including British Airways pension fund. [11:17] Frequency of research trips to Japan; reasons for being located in HK not Japan; contact with Japanese brokers; visiting obscure parts of Japan and Japanese attitudes to foreigners; importance of translators. [15:23] Importance of ‘intuition’ in investing and ability to make decisions; explaining being a ‘contrarian’- going against the trend as an investor; motivation of beating the market; role of risk taking in investment. [21:01] Learning on the job rather than formal training at HA; learning from colleague JB. There then not being formal exams for asset management; having taken Stock Exchange exams at Lloyds; importance of instinctive understanding of people. [25:18] Explaining fees as charged on percentage of portfolio; comparisons with fee levels today; relationship between level of funds managed and business overheads. [28:21] JW’s role concentrating on investing rather than marketing; reflecting on learning about team building and understanding individuals; noting tendency of investment managers to be arrogant and belief in need for element of self-doubt. [35:44] Remuneration whilst in HK; low tax regime; accommodation and living costs being paid for; putting money into school fee scheme and paying off mortgage on return to UK. [38:20] Domestic and social life in HK; being surrounded by ambitious people; socializing mainly with ex-pats; Barings having share in a Junk, the Santa Maria, with James Capel and examples of trips taken on it; describing Chan Chi Ming [ph] who would drive the Junk; first two children born in HK; access to Filipino amahs; social life being involved with business life; lack of cultural activities in HK. [45:20] Traveling in Asia for holidays rather than returning to UK; HK being a ‘great life’ for a young couple. [45:56] SW’s doing occasional work for Sotheby’s in HK. SW’s involvement in JW’s business entertainment and travel; HK office culture and dress more informal. Visitors from Barings and Henderson’s London coming Feb/March to avoid cold weather at home, and after the end of the shooting season. [50:04] Awareness of UK economy/politics; attention being focused on Asia; 1979 election of Conservative government not impacting on HA’s business in Asia. [53:00]


    Track 3 [cont. from 1:48:38] Reflecting on being on the board as more important later; H-B being collegiate in the early days. [1:50:00] Reasons for ending of H-B joint venture; difficulties of being in the middle of the two partners of the joint venture. Weekend of discussions at JB’s house in Spain on the future of H-B; requesting that one H-B partner buy the other out; feeling of underrating leverage over Barings and Hendersons; Barings agreeing to buy out Henderson. [1:56:30] Offices moving to 9 Bishopsgate with business wholly-owned by Barings; growing the business and becoming increasingly global in investments; need for Barings to consolidate all their various investment businesses into international business with JB as chief executive and Nicholas Baring as chairman; reasons for reluctance to include the domestic investment business of Barings into BAM; the period as a difficult one; giving example of off-site meeting at the Lygon Arms illustrating differences between the international and domestic personnel; Miles Rivett-Carnac [MR-C] replacing Nicholas Baring as chairman; describing MR-C and his ability to bring the investment business together [2:05:07 pause] Describing JW’s role in business between 1979-95; visiting North America; involvement in globalization of business; contact with clients; Canada being a way into USA markets before ERISA Act [ph]; recalling period less distinctly than the HK years. [2:11:00] Explaining preference for being owned by Barings over Hendersons; importance of having autonomy; having good relationship with Hendersons. Involvement with the investment side of Barings Brothers prior to becoming BAM; identifying talent within Barings investment personnel; example of George Gunn who feel asleep in the afternoon; explaining origins of Barings investment department, type of personnel there; difficulty in bringing the differing Barings and BAM cultures together. [2:18:30] Explaining creation of BAM as a form of reverse takeover of the Barings investment business; the need to lose personnel. Circumstances of knowing Nicholas Baring and other Barings personnel prior to creation of BAM; desire to create an investment management business in the style of the business created in HK. [2:23:18] ‘Big Bang’ having little impact on BAM; high percentage of business being outside UK; JW never feeling part of confines of City of London; never wanting to join the City Club. Knowing the American investment banks prior to Big Bang. [2:25:40] City culture of lunch; having an in-house cook at BAM; ‘table’ being important; entertaining broad range of people e.g. Michael Palin. Drinking at lunchtime; Hillary being in-house cook; entertaining as important; use of Barings’ dining rooms; working long hours.


    Track 4: [01:59:40] [Session four: 24 September 2010] Reflecting on 1980s as an ‘extraordinary period’; feeling fortunate in operating during a harmonious period in the financial world; explaining the implication of falls in inflation, interest rates and bond yields on wealth creation. Describing a period of technology becoming accessible e.g. Windows, and implication for productivity. A period of globalization; giving a presentation drawing on Barings archive material to show tradition of global investment. Combination of fall of inflation and interest rates, technology, globalization and a benign political climate creating ‘a purple patch’. Impact of break up of Soviet Union and Western politic being in favour of enterprise on ability to run a global portfolio [08:38] Feeling it was a competitive time; need to work hard; fear of inflation returning; recollection of 1987 stock market crash. Explaining role of BAM as long-term investors for clients. Importance of developments in technology and medical developments for investment opportunities. [14:18] Explaining why developments in medical technology created investment opportunities; importance of identifying companies ahead of the market; building an investment team with specialist knowledge; example of an oil analyst recommending buying share in what became Dell Computers. Explaining rationale for timing of selling of shares and necessity for having a ‘feel’ for the market; importance of distinguishing between the company and the stock, and having sense of price and value. [21:50] Describing the process of assimilating information and making an investment decision; working with specialists, analysts and brokers; visiting the company; decisions being made through investment managers working in geographic groups; importance of challenging recommendation without being destructive of ideas. [25:30] Explaining relationship with stockbrokers; describing how knowledge and research of brokers would be used in decision making; payment for brokers’ research being through commission on orders. [31:20] Clarifying having in-house analysts and using brokers’ analysts; using analysis as a way of training investment managers; having over 100 investment managers/analysts by 1995. BAM’s use of brokers; concentrating on 10-12 broker relationships; having regular reviews by brokers of relationship. Explaining relationship with, and use of, Barings Securities [BS]. BAM having relationships with brokers independently of Barings Bank. Explaining profit- sharing pool including small element generated by BS; USA rules prohibiting the use of affiliated brokers; advising clients of use of BS as an affiliated business; having good relationship with BS. [40:39] Having known Christopher Heath from Henderson Crosthwaite; role of H-B personnel in introducing Christopher Heath to Barings, early 1980s. [41:57] Occasion of Christopher Heath having passed business to H-B; implications of being part of same group as BS. Having good relationships with brokers; JW’s dislike of managers treating brokers as supplicants; being entertained by brokers; need for declaring emoluments and gifts and increased regulation post-Big Bang. [47:24] Describing stereotype of brokers as extroverts and fund managers as introverts. Describing ethos of BAM and qualities of staff being open-minded, bright and motivated. [49:23]


    Track 4 [cont from 49:23] Having a compliance officer and increased necessity for regulation; recalling an earlier era of regulation rarely being on the agenda at board meetings; attitudes to compliance. Realization of need for compliance; finding some staff had been cutting corners. Example of discovering a fund manager had been taking bribes from a broker; need for compliance increasing with size of BAM, size of clients and of amount of money under management; being audited by clients. Introduction of IMRO 1987; staff at IMRO; taking the relationship with the regulator seriously; anger in 1995 at lack of controls in BIB. [1:00:45] Describing the days leading up to 1987 stock market crash; explaining role of portfolio insurance; procedure for ringing clients during the crash; people fearful over losses; having a problem with China and Eastern Investment Trust having bought Hang Seng index futures in breach of rules. [1:09:50] Growing the business of BAM; giving Korea as example of opening an office and reasons for sharing offices with BS and BB; period of start of emerging markets strategy. Circumstances of getting Terry Mahony to open up Latin America markets; reason for opening office in Boston and starting Barings Puma (Fund); giving details of Puma’s board including David Montgomery; getting to know contacts and companies; advantage of getting to markets early; disadvantage of not speaking Spanish. [1:19:12] Occasion of travelling in jet of Brazilian President Cardoso; going to Uruguay with Montgomery and details of guests at a dinner. BAM by 1990s being regarded as a leading-edge global invest management company; JW’s ability to meet interesting/key people e.g. Sally Shelton-Colby; spending time with MBA students at Stanford University. Meeting the now Prime Minister of Japan and Foreign Minister of China; reason for such people talking to JW/BAM. Anecdote of visiting China and being introduced as having 35billion dollars to invest. [1:28:28] Describing Puma, an investment trust on the London stock market, and composition of the board of directors. [1:31:03] Korea being the only office BAM shared with BB and BS; difficulties in gaining entrance to countries as a foreign investor; preference for being arms-length from the other Barings businesses. [1:33:00] Period of frequent travel; enjoyment of travel and overseas business; pressure on family from frequent travel and ability of SW to cope; BAM’s policy of flying first class; ability to work on planes. [1:41:36] Pitching for business in the USA; role of Boston office and consultants; JW in charge of Strategic Policy Group and role in making presentations; Jack McNamara, Boston office, making JW practise presentations; celebrations when business won; describing format and technique for presentations; getting feedback. [1:48:06] Explaining how BAM emerged as one entity in 1989; role and qualities of MR-C in bringing investment business together; assurance on preserving bottom line when bringing in other areas of Barings investment business; addition of the Barings off-shore financial analysts and securities business. [1:52:45] JW’s role looking after money of Sultan of Brunei; describing anniversary parties for the Brunei Investment Agency; anecdote of MR-C as chairman of BAM attending such a party. Origins of Barings relationship with Sultan of Brunei; fraud by the Minister of Finance; describing dealing with Brunei Investment Agency; visits at time of Eid ul-Fitr, having to eat food at each meeting; queuing to see the Sultan. Anecdote of seeing famous golfers in Saudi to play golf with Sultan’s son, and Diana Ross entertaining at Sultan’s party.


    Track 5 [02:10:40] [Session five: 27 September 2010] Explaining BAM Holdings Ltd as wholly-owned by Barings; BAM’s investment business in three stands: America, global and UK domestic; balance of business between these strands. Additional divisions being private clients, an off-shore trust company in the Channel Islands, and a Swiss bank in Geneva. Challenge post-1989 of making the units cohesive; importance of BAM autonomy from Barings; difficulties in bringing the various parts of BAM together including regulatory reasons. JW’s involvement in creation of a ‘singular investment management platform’; being in charge of the Strategic Policy Group; being able to offer clients a world-wide portfolio. [06:28] Describing the composition of BAM’s board of directors. Becoming Chief Investment Officer c.1991; having responsibility for the ‘brand’; use of the Baring name; importance of keeping clients informed of what was significant to them. [11:30] Offices located at 155 Bishopsgate on formation of BAM; describing office accommodation. Barings providing funds for BAM to start an art collection; purchasing contemporary British artists. Reflecting on whether office/building matters to corporate identity; having open-plan office policy; having an informal hierarchy. [16:00] Reason for not liking dealing with British clients who resented smart offices, artwork and in-house dining; producing a replica of BAM’s painting of Imran Khan for a Pakistani fund manager. Tradition of organizations having art collections. [20:15] Recruitment; preference for people straight from college; numbers of and qualities looked for. Recruitment of individuals with some experience; preference for developing talent in-house. JW’s involvement in recruitment. [27:20] Overseas offices as autonomous for recruitment. Estimating numbers of women and ethnic make-up of staff in early 1990s; employment of people from nationalities corresponding to emerging markets and areas of interest. Employing a lady from Ghana; receiving job applications predominantly from men; naming senior BAM women. Speculating on the City not being an easy destination for women. [33:20] Not recalling the 1989 change in chairmanship of Barings plc; Miles Rivett-Carnac as BAM-Barings link. Describing characteristics of John Baring; John Baring on the Prince’s Council. [37:00] Children’s education; family having returned to UK 1981; Henry born 1982. Sam diagnosed with autism; Sam attending special needs school (Bredon School); general understanding of autism now improved; Sam having Asperger's Syndrome. Explaining features of Asperger’s Syndrome; ways in which Sam was affected. Effectiveness of special teaching for Asperger’s. Sam later attending school in Canada and effectiveness of that school. [46:00] Other sons attending Mount House, Devon; attending Ampleforth College and reasons for. Henry’s desire to go boarding; considering sons had the personalities for boarding. Reason for not wishing sons to attend Harrow. Attitude to children boarding and benefits of. Importance of the spiritual side of school. [52:30] Attitude to single-sex versus co-ed schooling; effect on JW of Harrow being single-sex. Keeping in touch with children when at school. Parental input to children’s schooling. [59:10] Describing typical family holidays and activities in Cornwall and abroad. [1:02:30] Having taken over family property in Cornwall, 1981; interest in developing the garden and learning about plants; garden being a Spring garden. [1:05:30] Continued contact with mother; describing mother as a mother-in-law and a grandmother; mother’s interest in JW’s career; mother in later life. [1:10:30]


    Track 5 [cont. from 1:10:30] Contact with SW’s family; contact with SW’s mother. JW’s brother being in insurance and breeding racehorses; relationship with brother; brother’s wife. [1:15:00] SW not having a career. Effect on family of Sam having special needs; treatment of Sam by his brothers. Anecdote of first word spoken by Sam at school in Canada. [1:20:20] Recalling the 1990s; world events e.g. American invasion of Iraq; significance of the decline of communism and socialism for entrepreneurialism; 1988 reduction in top-rate tax. Noting a political ‘sea change’ that affected the whole world; seeing political events in economic terms. Being able to see Canary Wharf from office; awareness of global organization positioning themselves in London. Significance of Sterling leaving the ERM and the UK not joining the Euro; era being an interesting period for enterprise. [1:27:00] BAM as a successful money management firm; ability to attract and pay bright people. Challenge of making the people work together; BAM being a hotbed of interesting ideas; JW running the Strategic Policy Group. Feeling the first few years of BAM to have been the best career years. [1:31:50] Success of BAM being measured by investment performance; maintaining target of being in top 25%. Financial rewards; BAM having created value for Barings; bonuses coming from profit share; importance and benefits of being part of the Baring franchise. Importance of rewards reaching all levels of BAM; being in a competitive market; comparing rewards of 1990s with 1980s in Hong Kong. [1:37:30] Explaining arrangements for profit-share with Baring Brothers; difference between profit-share and bonus; policy of only giving bonuses if profit made. Noting post-1995 ING paying bonuses to retain BS people even when losing money. Explaining profit-sharing formula fixed as return on capital; rationale for distribution of profit-share pool including performance and risk adjusted performance. Process for advising staff of their bonus; varied reaction of staff; rewards as related to individual effort as well as performance. [1:46:25] Being responsible for managing investment teams; need to look after staff over and above financial rewards; importance of fun in the workplace. [1:50:00] Being unconcerned over parity of remuneration with other parts of the Barings organization. [1:52:14] Comments on the current debate on whether governments should regulate bonuses or banks be taxed; influence of global investment banks on people having greater expectations for remuneration; example of (John) Paulson offering senior trader a £25m bonus; problem of cash bonuses and not taking account of risk. [1:56:25] Role of government regulator in looking at how bonuses are calculates; need to move away from short-termisim and use of long-term rewards for individuals. Finding the greed on the City ‘unattractive’; personal belief in free enterprise and reward for success; noting old system of partnerships firms e.g. stockbrokers. [2:01:30] JW’s personal priorities for use of bonus money; typical use of bonuses. [2:05:40] Explaining salary element of remuneration; use of salary surveys; being fair in the market place; noting people often felt strongly about other people’s salaries. Being part of the Barings pension fund; ability to top up pension from bonus.


    Track 6 [41:04] Recalling merging of BS and BB into Baring Investment Bank [BIB]; reasons for merger including fusing of securities and capital markets business; BAM as bystanders to merger. Knowing directors of BS; hearing of resignation of Christopher Heath and Andrew Baylis; reason for departure of BS management. [05:15] Being in Japan, January 1995 and experiencing Kobe earthquake; being told that BS had an aggressive position in the market place. Occasion of Peter Baring telling BAM of trader making money in Nikkei futures arbitraging between SIMEX; reason for arbitrage ceasing to be profitable. Occasion of being advised that Barings had ‘gone bust’ and reaction to; necessity for stopping imminent profit-share distribution; describing going home on the evening prior to news becoming public; having a drink with Crispin Odey. News of collapse being in the press; advising clients that their money was held separately; reaction of clients and reaction of suppliers. Attending office on Sunday afternoon; Ernst & Young standing by as administrators; BAM instructing solicitors. Staff credit cards being stopped; atmosphere in office. Hole in trading account on Tokyo Futures Exchange being prohibitive for Brunei investor to step in. [16:05] Barings being placed into administration; feelings of witnessing the death of ‘one of the great institutions’. Staying in the office for the next few days; noting differing behaviour of people during the crisis including some trying to leave BAM. [21:50] Discovering certain client funds were held on deposit with BB and implications of. Change in media treatment of BAM because of association with Barings. [24:20] Effect of loss of reputation to BAM. Reflecting on the crisis as a watershed in life. Noting companies in administration usually having warning of insolvency; the Barings collapse as sudden; noting effect on health of certain colleagues. Potential for JW, as a director, to have personal liability. Describing the days after the collapse; clients terminating relations. Interest in BAM being sold separately; making pitches to potential purchasers; having to continue to manage client money. [32:00] Later considering what had gone wrong; culpability and failures in management at BIB; Peter Baring shouldering the responsibility. [34:00] Speculating on why Nick Leeson’s [NL] trading position was not known in London; BIB believing in a client position; occasion of Barings refusing to underwrite a custodial position for BAM as too risky. Comments on perception of collapse after 15 years. Being too shocked at time of collapse to understand causes; never having heard of NL. [38:40] JW’s awareness of rescue negotiations with Bank of England and other banks; being told later by Eddie George that his view at the time was that the collapse was not systemic. Potential trading losses being too large/unknown to arrange re-capitalization by other banks.


    Track 7 [02:42:28] [Session six: 14 February 2011] Circumstances of JW knowing Eddie George [Governor of Bank of England] in Cornwall; asking George to become a trustee of Cornwall Community Foundation; George’s comments on the Barings collapse, the role of the Bank of England, and the potential impact of the collapse. [04:00] JW feeling clear where culpability lay in Barings. Opinion of the Bank of England enquiry. Clarifying thoughts on responsibilities along the reporting line and things being overlooked; there being subsequent instances of controls being overlooked for risk management. Barings internal auditor being forbidden to look into the accounts in Singapore; continued feeling of bitterness over the collapse. Inability to understand why the identity of NL’s client was not known. [09:30] Continuing from previous session and JW’s role in presenting BAM for sale; possibility of being bought by Merrill Lynch; not having a particular preference for a buyer. Realising BAM client money on deposit with Barings was at risk and implications for directors’ personal liability; cases of money on deposit with Barings in contravention of client instructions. [14:30] BAM as the jewel in the Barings crown during the sale; administrators’ desire for sale of the whole of Barings; ING purchasing Barings without knowing the extent of the liabilities. Reflecting on feelings post sale to ING; likening the collapse to bereavement; emotional effect on JW. [21:10] Reflecting on what learnt about self from experience; leadership qualities. Collapse resulting in subsequent loss of jobs and business for BAM. [24:40] Dealing with the press; administrators’ instructions on preserving the value of BAM; needing to avoid staff leaving. Noting the extent to which the impact of the collapse reached outside financial world; episode being seen as a ‘riches to rags’ story; comments on ‘Rogue Trader’ and ‘All That Glitters’. Speculating on why the episode stuck in people’s minds; the destruction of mystique, and class issues. Initial sympathy for Barings evaporating and effect on BAM of media coverage becoming hostile. Preference for Britain having an open economy rather than of more protective nations like French or Japan. [32:20] Impact of collapse on family and friends; mixed support from friends; circumstances of son hearing the news at school; example of colleague’s son misunderstanding word ‘collapse’; support from SW. [36:45] ING as reassuring; Aad Jacobs handling of the new business; agreement to payment of bonuses to retain staff. BAM’s loss of staff and loss of clients; implications of being marked down by pension fund consultants; feeling of managing a business in decline; reason for not leaving. [43:50] Travelling to see clients post collapse; making representation to boards to retain business; feeling uncertain about BAM’s future. [47:00] BAM senior executives forgoing a portion of their bonus in favour of the Baring Foundation and reasons for. [49:20] ING having an existing asset management business; ING not relocating funds to BAM; belief that clients should have felt reassured by ING’s ownership of BAM. [52:30]


    Track 7 [cont. from 52:30] Estimation of percentage decline in BAM’s funds under management; loss of Brunei account. Having debated continued use of the Baring name; reasons for continuing to use name; BAM, now under American ownership, as the remaining holder of the name; ING’s use of Baring name for asset management, corporate finance and securities business. [57:30] Lost of head of UK equities; failed attempts to recruit Jim Cox of Schroders. [1:00:10] JW’s consideration of leaving BAM; feeling bound by collegiate ethos; agreement with John Bolsover and Peter Walsh to stay; advising ING of desire for exit route. [1:02:40] Post-collapse investigations and NL’s trial being peripheral; recalling Andrew Tuckey’s comments on eve of NL being sentenced; JW having no view on NL’s sentence or FSA and ING investigations. [1:50:40] Describing gradual rebuilding of BAM; BAM as less fun and more bureaucratic. House fire of April 2001 as catalysis for leaving; describing fire and escaping with SW and son; suffering smoke inhalation; influence of advice from friends and relations. Advising JB of decision to leave; recruiting own successor in Percival Stanion. [1:12:50] Explaining the ‘fun’ and pleasure derived from work; work as less fun post collapse; sense of having created value for Barings during 28 year career. [1:18:00] Speculating on position of BAM within the asset management industry had the collapse not happened; likelihood of JW having worked longer. Age of those working in asset management; value of experience; role of Peter Vermilye who worked to 86; example of fund manger friend in his 70s; advantages of an older person’s perspective for long-term view. [1:24:50] Barings purchase of Endowment Research and Management [ER&M], a domestic money manager in Boston; BAM learning American techniques in managing money from ER&M; ER&M eventually absorbed by BAM; BAM’s North American offices; JW a frequent visitor to Boston. Time spent travelling; frequency of overseas trips. Describing a ‘swansong’ trip to Far East with SW, 2002. [1:29:20] Occasion of leaving BAM; gift of a telescope; feeling of being ready to leave. Comparing BAM at time of departure to its heyday; noting improvements to Hong Kong and US offices; improvements in asset allocation, compliance and personnel. Feeling the asset management world had changed; increase in hedge funds; explaining the debate over active and passive fund management; feeling BAM had been rebuilt into a firm with substance and value; sense of pride in rebuilding of BAM. BAM’s continued use of the Barings history; BAM’s dining-room placemats showing facsimile of banker’s draft on Barings; importance of the Baring archive and the history. [1:37:25] Speculating on whether a point was reached when people stopped associating BAM with the collapse; occasion of individual resigning having been incessantly teased over collapse; feeling BAM to be a well-founded business by 2002. [1:39:20] Speculating on the survival of Barings without the collapse; comparison with other merchant banks and requirements to have more capital; other banks also having issues of control. [1:40:50] Feelings on 2005 sale of BAM to MassMutual and Northern Trust; speculating on why ING sold BAM. [1:44:10]


    Track 7 [cont. from 1:44:10] Feeling unprepared for life in retirement; period of catching-up on sleep; being advised to seek psychoanalyse. Desire to work on house and garden in Cornwall; starting farming; travelling in Australia with son; benefits of taking up long-distance walking. Not wishing to return to the financial world; having positions with Royal London Investment Trust and JP Morgan American Investment Trust. [1:50:50] Finding things to do in Cornwall; reasons for Cornwall being economically ‘needy’. Circumstances of becoming a governor of University College Falmouth, 2004 and chairman, 2007; dealing with academics rather than financial people; enjoyment of role. Origins of university in Falmouth College of Arts; evolution into a university for the creative industry; incorporation of Dartington College of Art; examples of combining various areas of creative activity. Appointment of new Chief Exec/Rector and new personnel; demands of role on JW’s time; college having degree awarding power. [1:58:35] Interest in pedigree beef cattle; inheriting land from mother; starting to breed cattle in 2004 and interest in genetics; long-term plans to operate commercially; process for selection of individual cattle. Being elected to the Council of Devon Cattle Breeders’ Society. Interest in genetics and ability to select characteristics; likening managing a herd to managing an investment portfolio. Not being an organic operation; importance of meat being local and use of natural foods. Genetic consideration for size; commercial viability of operation. [2:10:07] Explaining role on the Prince’s Council of the Duchy of Cornwall; example of role of Council in advising Duchy; JW on finance committee; reporting to the Prince of Wales and accompanying him on visits. JW as Council Member who lives in Cornwall. Barings having managed financial assets of Duchy and John Ashburton having been Comptroller General. JW’s role looking at psychological stress on farmers facing TB testing as an e.g. of work for Duchy; producing a report on Duchy pension scheme. [2:17:05] Explaining appointment as High Sheriff of Cornwall; enjoyment of role; origins of role; being expected to become familiar with the criminal justice system in Cornwall; ceremonial duties. Giving e.g. of working with Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall; promoting work of mentoring scheme for young people coming out of care system. Demands on time of role of High Sheriff; describing uniform. [2:25:25] Feeling Cornish identity; speculating on why the Cornish have a strong sense of regional identity. [2:27:25] Walking trips with friends. [2:28:55] Details of careers of three sons; potential for sons to have worked at BAM. [2:33:18] Speculating on future plans; feeling lucky to be of a generation able to enjoy a career and life post-career. [2:34:40, pause] Reflecting on satisfactions derived from work, from family, and from continued new experiences. Regrets including not getting pilot’s licence and not better using resources of Cambridge University. [2:38:30] Reflecting on process of recording a life story; feeling pleased that an archive of the Barings history has been created. Desire to be remembered for things other than Barings.

  • Notes:
    Recording: 2009-05-21, 2009-07-15, 2010-09-21, 2010-09-24, 2010-09-27, 2011-01-14;
    - Williams, James, 1950- (speaker, male; interviewee; asset manager and company director);
    - Haydon, Katharine (speaker, female; interviewer)
    Recording Notes: audio files 7 WAV 16 bit 48 kHz 2 channel
    Duration: 13 hr. 40 min. :53 sec.
    Performance notes: Mother’s occupation: nurse/housewife; father’s occupation: soldier
    Interviewee notes: Mother’s occupation: nurse/housewife; father’s occupation: soldier
    Access restrictions: none

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