Nick Leeson, the “rogue trader” that broke Barings Bank is one of the most sought-after speakers on the global speaking circuit. The collapse of Barings Bank in 1995, and Nick Leeson's role in it, remains one of the most spectacular debacles in modern financial history.
How could one trader, an ambitious 25 years old investment broker, bring down the banking empire that had funded the Napoleonic Wars and counted the late Queen Elizabeth II as one of its private customers?
The young gambler who found himself sucked into a terrifying spiral of loss was a working-class boy from Watford, north London, who lived out of his depth, high in an upper-class world, until his unchecked gambling caused the downfall of Barings Bank and caused chaos in the Singaporean money market.
Sentenced to six and a half years for fraud, Nick spent four and a half of those incarcerated in a Triad gang-ridden Singaporean prison, locked up 23 hours a day, most days, in 100+ degree heat. He was eventually released early on compassionate grounds, due to battling colon cancer, on July 3rd 1999 and extradited back to the UK. At that time his oncologist gave him a 60% chance of surviving another five years.
More recent cases such as Allied Irish Bank, Societe Generale (2008), UBS (2011) and FTX (2022) simply highlight that loopholes haven't been closed. In an exclusive interview for the BBC with Huw Edwards, Nick commented "I think rogue trading is probably a daily occurrence amongst the financial markets. Not enough focus goes on those risk management areas, those compliance areas, those settlement areas, that can ultimately save them money."
Despite more audacious and larger scale incidents of rogue trading since the collapse of Barings, Nick Leeson remains the most infamous and high-profile rogue trader and one of the world's most sought-after keynote speakers within the corporate sector.
The late Sir David Frost, who interviewed Nick whilst in the Frankfurt prison, optioned the rights to his story and in 1999 the Hollywood film “Rogue Trader” was released as a dramatisation of his story and starred Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Trainspotting) with Anna Friel (Marcella, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pushing Daisies) portraying his wife at the time.
These events with Nick Leeson represent a unique opportunity for people to meet and question the main protagonist in the largest and most significant financial scandal of the 20th century and gain his personal insight into the current economy and the world today.