Q - How long have you been in the industry, and what is your current job title?
A - I was a banker for 13 years until 2001, and have been self-employed as a designer of financial products ever since, albeit with an unintentional sabbatical of some three years in between while I got to grips with the US criminal justice system, and the US and UK penal systems.
Q - Did you have a mentor and, if so, who ?
A – The nearest I came to a mentor was probably Peter Phillips, a former lawyer and senior banker at NatWest who was one of the architects of the Eurotunnel financing - at the time the most complex project finance ever put together. I joined his group as a very young and green banker. He remains a friend and wise counsel, although his golf is a bit suspect.
Q - Are you by nature a pessimist or an optimist ?
A – I’m a born optimist. Perspective is something we could all do with more of. However bad a situation may seem, pick up a newspaper on any given day and read about real tragedy in the world.
Q - Which business leader do you admire the most and why ?
A - Although I have never met him, Warren Buffet. He had the cohones to suggest that the emperor had no clothes back in the late 1990s, when the world had lost its collective mind over internet stocks.
Q - What's the biggest lesson you have learned in your career to date?
A – Trust your instincts. If something looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
Q - What's your favorite business quotation or life motto ?
A - 'What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger'.
Q - What's the best business book you've ever read ?
A – Fools Gold by Gillian Tett. It’s a book about the origins of the financial crisis, but manages to make some of the most arcane stuff about complex derivative products understandable to the man on the street. It’s a wonderful cautionary tale.
About David Bermingman
Having studied law at Bristol University, David Bermingham spent five years as an officer in the Royal Artillery before becoming a banker in 1989. An otherwise successful career in the City came to an abrupt end in 2002 when he and two colleagues were accused by the US Government of stealing $7m from their employer, NatWest, in a deal involving the bankrupt US energy giant Enron. That episode, which is the subject of a book - A Price to Pay - would culminate in extradition to Texas, and ultimately a spell in ten different prisons on two continents before his eventual release from custody in early 2010.
Since then, David has been an ardent campaigner for change to the UK’s extradition laws, and has given evidence to two separate Parliamentary Committees on the subject. He continues to give help and guidance to others going through the same nightmare of extradition that he and his two colleagues did, and advice on the best way to limit the damage after extradition, including in repatriation from overseas prisons.
David has frequently appeared on TV and radio, and in the print media. He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and three children.
image: © M. Keefe