The novel is out. Here’s a little teaser.

I’ve made an excerpt available for your viewing / reading pleasure.

CLICK on the following link: THE IBANKER PROLOGUE

You can find the book on Amazon.

Feel free to share it with anyone you think will enjoy.




“What would you like to drink?” the stewardess asked me.

“Coffee please,” I said.

“Americano, latte, cappuccino, espresso?”

“Latte please,” I said.

We were over 35,000 feet above ground when I was served my latte. I wouldn’t say it was the best one I’ve had but who was I to complain. The circumstances and setting more than made up for the quality of the coffee, which actually wasn’t all that bad. Don’t you find food or drink a little tastier when it is served with a smile and impeccable service?

The private jet was headed to Frankfurt. It belonged to my client, a twenty something year old male heir to a vast fortune. I was accompanying him on business.

As I looked at the young scion sitting across from me I remembered the first time the two of us had a proper chat. It was several years ago in a little cafe in West London.

The relationship started over a cup of coffee.

Praise be to hot drinks

The price of a coffee is pretty much the same at a cafe, restaurant or hotel. If you have one at a 5-Star hotel or a very posh establishment it will be pricer. That’s for sure. But in general coffee is an affordable luxury for many of us. And that’s something to rejoice at because the cost of one may be all you’ll incur when you meet that one individual who’ll potentially change the way you think, the opportunities that will come your way and the path you take in life.

A time of accessibility

We are very fortunate to live in this day age. Really. We should all light incense daily and be thankful for it.

Almost everyone on earth is accessible now.

There was a time, not so very long ago when it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get the attention of someone you didn’t know, especially if they happened to be high profile.

Now, with a few clicks and some trial and error, you can figure out most people’s contact details. Then you send an e-mail and when the recipient looks in his or her inbox your message is present. Hello. Contact made.

Whether it’s a Hong Kong-based hedge fund manager, British film producer, member of the real estate team at a GCC Sovereign Wealth Fund or Silicon Valley entrepreneur, you can touch base with any of them. Your message can land in their inbox and be seen. And if you think about it that’s bloody damn powerful. Metaphorically speaking all the roads have been paved. You can drive right over to your destination.

Yet because it’s become so much easier to gain access to people it also means that a lot of people are going about it the wrong way. They shoot off e-mails without pausing to think about the right way to make contact. Consequently, their message usually lacks tact and grace. I’d say 90% of people will approach the exercise in a sloppy manner and nothing will come of their half-ass efforts. They’ll reach the destination but nobody will let them in. Permission not granted.

You want to be one of the select few who makes contact and then proceeds to the next stage with the recipient (your target).

How do I do that, you ask. My advice is simple… [READ MORE…]



I’ve always appreciated the rationale behind sending a grey haired banker to meet with a grey haired client. If they’re both in their 50s or 60s then they’re on the same wavelength, so to speak.

And the reality is that some people prefer to sit with an individual their own age, rather than a younger man or woman who hasn’t been around as long. Who perhaps has yet to learn some of life’s big lessons. That’s perfectly fine.

But sending a senior banker just for the sake of having an old geezer in a room with a client doesn’t make sense. I’d seen it go wrong before. Like the time I was working at Paris Berkeley Capital and the Chairman of one of the Arab Gulf’s largest banks announced he was in town.

Breaking fast

It was a morning like any other in London’s Canary Wharf district. The weather was grey and overcast. Everyone inside the bank was stressed.

I received an e-mail from Abdul Aziz, the Chairman. He addressed me and copied in my line manager, who was out of town on holiday.

In his message, Abdul Aziz wrote, “I’m in London and would like to invite the two of you to dinner.”

Cool. I’m looking forward to it.

Within minutes, my phone rang. Who is this? I didn’t recognise the number. I quickly looked up the country code. Indonesia? Oh, it’s from Bali. My line manager was on holiday there with his family. I googled the time there. It was midnight. Don’t you have anything better to do, like make love to your wife? I picked up the phone.

“Don’t reply to Abdul Aziz’s mail,” he said without bothering to say hello. “I’m going to take care of it. I’ll ring you back in 5 minutes,” he said.

Take care of what?. Dinner seemed a straightforward affair to me.

A few minutes later my phone rang again. I answered.

“I’m going to ask Tom to meet with Abdul Aziz,” said my line manager.

“Tom?” I asked. “From New York?”

“That’s right.”

“But he doesn’t cover the Middle East. He works in the New York office,” I said.

“That’s fine. He’s in town for a couple of days and I’ve been told that Tom should go to dinner.”

“But I—”


Shit. “Fine.”

A Managing Director in our New York office, Tom had probably travelled out of the US a handful of times and certainly never anywhere near the Middle East. Though a skilled banker, he had the cultural IQ of a beer can. What he did have a lot of, on the other hand, were grey hairs.

And little did Tom know it was the holy month of Ramadan and that Abdul Aziz was fasting. And that dinner that evening was to be more than just a business discussion. I’d say a special occasion.

I didn’t mention a thing. Screw them.

That evening, banker and client met in an Argentine restaurant in Central London. [READ MORE…]



There’s this misconception about investment bankers and dealmakers being caged monkeys sitting behind a computer, facing 5 screens and doing nothing but preparing financial models and presentations from sunrise to well past sunset. A most boring species of number-crunchers, many erroneously assume.

In fact, recently I overheard two passengers discuss the business on a Jet Airways flight to Mumbai.

One of them said to the other, “The world of finance is so bloody dull, yaar. A big day for an investment banker is reading the Financial Times in bed.” They both laughed.

I found it amusing.

Later, that same guy pointed out a picture of Brad Pitt and George Clooney together in some magazine to the other passenger. “These two guys are so cool. You know, I wonder if Brad really looks like this in real life.”

I smiled to myself.

A memorable encounter

What many people fail to realise is that films, though they aim to put magic on a screen, are very often motivated by commercial aims. Filmmaking is a business. Sure, the backers want to entertain audiences but the chief objective is to ensure a return on investment. Not sexy but true.

As film budgets continue to rise, more and more capital is needed to realise the motion picture and fulfil the cinematic experience. And when you need lots of money, you need investors. And dealmakers like myself are sometimes the ones who bring investors to the table.

The aforementioned passenger reminded me of an encounter I had some years ago.

Back in 2011, a European film fund approached me to help them raise money. They knew I was close to several Family Offices (organisations that manage the wealth of very large families) and invited me to learn more about their business.

“Sure,” I said, being a big fan of film.

“Why don’t you come on the set of a film we’ve worked on,” said a senior executive from the fund. “You can meet some of the crew.”

“I’d be delighted to,” I said.

The following week I found myself on the set of World War Z, which was partly shot in London. I arrived to the studios very early in the morning where I was met by a young female assistant. [READ MORE…]



Three years ago I received a phone call from the owner of a leading Austrian retailing company. He was a client of mine.

“I’ve decided I’m not going to sell the company just yet,” he said. “I want to take the company from a €70million turnover business to €120million within the next few years. And I’m confident I can do it.”

Suddenly, the volume dial was turned down. The rest of the conversation became a blur. I couldn’t pay attention anymore. I was left flabbergasted. Utterly flabbergasted.

After I hung up the phone, I took a deep breath and put my face in my hands. All that time spent on this deal. For nothing.

I stood up and went for a long walk in order to digest what had just happened. It was that or downing a bottle of vodka. And I seldom drink so it would have probably killed me.

6 months earlier

One morning I received a call from Peter, a successful Austrian businessman I knew. The two of us had met the year before while I was conducting due diligence for a Family Office looking to invest into the company Peter served as CEO. Though the family I was advising didn’t end up investing, Peter and I hit it off and became friends.

“I’ve got a phenomenal investment opportunity and I think you can help,” said Peter.

“Let’s hear it.” I was always intrigued to hear about unique opportunities.

“I’m flying to London tonight. Let’s meet at Claridge’s Hotel tomorrow morning at 8 and discuss it over breakfast.”

“I’ve got a conference call at 8.”

“Is it critical?” Peter asked.

“Not really. But—”

“Cancel it.”

I took that to mean it was a hot deal. So I rescheduled the conference call. [READ MORE…]



One of the highlights of the week was surely my meeting with a London financier who made himself a little fortune establishing, and later selling, what became a large financial institution. After achieving great financial success he set up his own Family Office. He got himself very nice office space in a nice part of town, hired a team of professionals and started putting money into various investments. Surprisingly fast. Anyway, I went in to meet with him to explore collaboration between his office and another, much larger Family Office I know well. Without getting into details, I had a particular angle in mind I wanted to pursue. He began telling me about an investment in India he had just made. He went on to speak about it as if he had invested in the next Facebook or Google. Interesting. So I asked, “Do you have a local partner in India?” That didn’t go down well with him. “What do you mean partner?” he said. In turn, I said, “I’m asking because it’s always very helpful to have a local partner, especially in India.” He seemed irritated. “Look, we don’t need one at all and, besides, one of my colleague’s wife is Indian.” I nearly busted out laughing. So you think because one of your teammates wife is Indian you’re set to go? I nodded and didn’t say a word.


Who says men can’t pamper themselves. A visit to Gentlemen’s Tonic on Bruton Place (Mayfair, London) was a wonderful treat after a closing a deal. I recommend their wet shave.


The second half of the week I met with a small yet very sharp group of technology investors based near King’s Cross St. Pancras. They’re backed by a European billionaire dynasty who’ve decided to put some money to work toward tech investments. And it’s proven very lucrative – thanks to the team. [READ MORE…]


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16 January 2015

This week has been insanely hectic. It’s the 3rd week of January and everyone is eager to get things done and deals closed. For me it kicked off Monday morning with a flight to Geneva to meet with the Family Office of a British retail tycoon. Along with 4 other families they own a luxury residential development project off Park Lane (Mayfair). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the sale of the units once completed. In and out of Switzerland the same day. Given it’s with a private I don’t mind :)

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Breakfast meeting at the Dorchester with a Saudi investor – I was introduced to him by a former client – looking to invest in film. That is, intelligently invest in film (it’s a risky business). It so happens that I have a friend who runs one of the largest film co-financing vehicles in Europe and exclusive partner to the leading European film studio. And they’re fundraising now. Maybe there’s a deal to be done.

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I wait in the lobby for the Saudi to come down from his room. In the meantime, I observe the surroundings. The exclusive crowd. The polished staff.

[A reader, and most careful observer, noticed and pointed out that the time on my watch displayed an afternoon hour. Tis true. The watch is powered by movement and given I don't wear it regularly, it sometimes displays the wrong time. Good eyes Alistair!]

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Later in the week, I get a call from a friend whom I invite to lunch at The Mount Street Deli on Mount Street. He’s visiting from Mumbai, where he works for Edelweiss, the Indian investment bank. I discover he’s in town to meet UK pension funds and insurance company. He’s also keen to meet British ultra high net worth individuals of Indian descent. There are plenty in London. “Can you help,” he asked. “Perhaps,” I replied. [READ MORE…]



I was recently in Baku on business. A friend of mine, Alex, who was CEO of a large Mongolian conglomerate, had reached out to me a few months earlier with an unusual request.

“Do you know anyone interested in acquiring a large gold deposit?” he asked.

“How large?” I said. “And what studies have been carried out to date?”

It was imperative to ask what works had been done. I was no expert in gold mining but I knew this much: it was risky business. When it comes to mining projects, it could take years and years for gold to come out of the ground. You don’t just buy a piece of land and start digging. Often, a project never even kicked off and you ended up losing lots of time and money. Also, and especially in a place like Mongolia, not all technical mining studies were alike. Some were undertaken by independent, professional organizations. Others included amateurs going around the country drilling holes with dubious equipment and machinery in a haphazard manner. On top of it all, much of the information and data on Mongolia mining licenses were from Soviet days.

“It’s an early stage proposition,” said Alex.

Sure, estimated reserves were huge. Enough to pique mining investors’ interest. Yet the opportunity carried significant risk. I wasn’t going to spend much time on it. That much I knew. But I was happy to make some calls for a friend.

“Leave it with me and I’ll come back to you,” I said.

Over the next few days I rang friends and acquaintances in London, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Canada who worked for mining investment companies. None of them got excited.

Finally, I called a family friend, Nader, who owns and runs a gold mine in Azerbaijan. To be honest, I called him not so much because I thought he’d be interested in a Mongolia gold license but more so because I thought I’d use the opportunity to catch up with him. It had been a while. So I was more than surprised to hear his reaction.

“Sounds really interesting. Send me all the details,” said Nader. [READ MORE…]



Dealmaking is a fascinating phenomenon. An individual’s ability to influence a string of events in order to bring about a desired end, be it closing a private equity transaction with a German family business or negotiating a holiday deal with a Brazilian travel agent, is a combination of skill, luck, perseverance and sometimes magic. In fact, dealmaking is a lot like having sex. If you get into it with the wrong person it’s a horrible experience. If, however, the chemistry is right then it’s bloody amazing.

I see it in finance regularly and it invariably amazes me. Yet I am equally in awe when I witness it in other areas of business or, for that matter, outside of the commercial world.

Dealmaking is an art. And though art is open to interpretation, I believe that if you boil it (dealmaking) down to its essence some of those core principles can successfully be applied across a great number of activities: capital raising (investment banking); launching a new drink (beverage business); selling products online (Internet); setting up a wind farm (alternative energy); or brokering a Monet (art world).

London: near Trafalgar Square

A few weeks ago I met up with a very interesting acquaintance, Elliot Grove. As the founder of the Raindance Film Festival, he has been one of the biggest names in the independent film world.

The two of us hadn’t seen each other in a while and I was in the neighbourhood, having just stepped out of a meeting with an Indian Family Office. So I called him and we decided to grab coffee around the corner.

We caught up on life and he updated me on the recent going-ons at Raindance. It was your typical half hour catch-up. How are things? How are the loved ones? What’s new? What sucks?

As we got ready to part Elliot asked me where I was headed.

“It’s a nice day so I’ll head over to Hyde Park, sit somewhere and type up a short little post,” I said.

“What about?” Elliot asked.

“Don’t know yet. I’d like to write something on dealmaking.”

“Does it have to be about high finance,” he asked.

“Not necessarily.”

“Does it have to include seven zeroes to interest you?” he asked with a smile.

“Nope,” I said.

“I’ll head over to the park with you. You can listen to some Raindance stories. Then I’ll head home and leave you to digest it.”

We both hopped into a taxi. [READ MORE…]


Dear readers,

I hope you are well and enjoying your respective summers (or winters).

I wanted to take the opportunity to give you a little update and explain why there have been so few posts published on the blog of late.

Firstly, I’m in the middle of editing my first novel. I’ve had lots of beta reader feedback and that has led me to make additional changes to the book. For the better, of course. Once I finish making this present round of edits, I’ll shoot it off to a professional editor and soon after it should be ready for your indulgence. Having to do this while juggling work and a personal life meant it’s taken longer to finish than I originally planned. That’s life, I suppose. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the end result.

Secondly, I’ve written an eBook, which will be released in the coming weeks. In short, it’s a guide to breaking into investment banking. It will help people optimise their mindset to achieve success and stand out from the competition. Some of the tactics will help readers far beyond getting into the business and becoming investment bankers. Get it on Amazon.

Thirdly, I’m in the middle of a live deal with a Swiss entrepreneur and a Russian bank…has not been an easy one.

With that being said, happy Friday the 13th!

My kindest regards,

The ibanker