I was delighted to read Niall Ferguson’s article “The People’s Banker”. On my way from two years in Wall Street to Bombay in 1962, I accepted an invitation for lunch in London from a then recent friend, Ronald Grierson (now Sir Ronald). I arrived at SG Warburg & Co and was pleasantly surprised to be ushered into Siegmund Warburg’s office. SGW barely got up from his chair to shake my hand and said: “I hear you are a poet.” I look puzzled until Ronnie explained that SGW was referring to a comment Ronnie had made earlier about my command of the English language!
SGW then asked me what I had learnt in my two years as a trainee with a major Wall Street firm. I replied stoically: “How to make money at the expense of one’s clients, and to be always alert to being stabbed in my back by some of my colleagues.”
SGW laughed and then asked, “How long will you be here?” To which I responded, “I was invited for lunch and expect to stay till some sherry is served after lunch, if that would be acceptable?” SGW interrupted and said, “No, no – how loooong will you be with us?”
I realised then that I was being offered a job. I stayed as a trainee at SGW & Co for a year and left for India with profound respect and admiration for SGW and the bank. They were the finest group of bankers I have had the privilege to know over 45 years in finance.
Ajit G. Hutheesing,
Greenwich, CT, US