The collapse of Barings Bank and Nick Leeson’s role in it is one of the most spectacular debacles in financial history. When the bank collapsed in 1995, it was described by the media as a wake up call and that something like this could never happen again. Yet, more than two decades later, there continue to be countless cases of rogue trading, financial scandal and corporate fraud in many industries around the world, from Jerome Kerviel at Societe Generale (2008) and Kweku Adoboli at UBS (2011) to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Enron and more recent major corporate fraud such as the 2015 VW emissions scandal.
Despite huge advances in technology, security and IT, at the heart of all of these cases lies human error and poor judgement. It is because of this human element that Nick’s story remains as relevant today as it ever has been, and resonates with such a wide range of audiences.
Not merely confined to banking and the financial sector, Nick Leeson speaks around the world to companies and organisations from a broad range of industries and sectors, educational facilities, colleges, universities and business schools.
Explore Business Speaking, Conference & Keynote Speaking and Mental health
Stress, Wellbeing and Mental Health
The importance of addressing stress, wellbeing and mental health in the workplace and when hosting events around these issues, clients are often looking for real stories to engage their audience and bring these issues to life.Nick Leeson’s story is a fascinating account. From the moment he opened the infamous ‘88888’ error account, Nick bore the weight of his mounting losses for three years – hiding his actions from colleagues, friends, family and even his wife. Once his actions came to light, to avoid facing trial in Singapore Nick fled to Europe. He was captured in Frankfurt and spent 9 months in prison fighting the extradition process. He was eventually sent back to face trial in Singapore, where he was sentenced to six years in prison. He subsequently spent four and a half years in a gang-ridden Singapore jail; locked up for 23 hours a day in conditions that defy belief and at times contemplated suicide. Whilst in prison, he was treated for colon cancer, which Nick now believes was triggered by the immense stresses at the time. He also had to deal with divorce from his then wife, Lisa. All of this happened before his 33rd birthday. Fortunately, Nick Leeson came out the other side and created a new life for himself.
Shortly after his release, in an effort to understand his motivation and come to terms with his actions, Nick studied for a degree in psychology. Then, in 2005, he teamed up with renowned psychologist Ivan Tyrell to co-author Back From The Brink: Coping With Stress, and show how the continual levels of high stress that affected Nick’s own mental and physical health can be related to us all. Through a series of in-depth conversations the book addresses topics including living with relationship and family problems; struggling with debt; striving to achieve status and success and coping with serious illness.
Nick Leeson now earns his living on the global corporate speaking circuit, living with new wife Leona and their family on the west coast of Ireland.
After dinner speaking
The collapse of Barings Bank and Nick Leeson’s remarkable story makes for a fascinating, insightful and engaging after dinner speech. Nick’s candid account will take the audience back to the early 90s where, at the age of 25, the son of a plasterer was propelled from Watford to Singapore and became a derivatives trader, heading up the Singaporean office of England’s oldest merchant bank.
Nick takes the audience on a journey from an innocent back-office error and hiding of the losses, through to his eventual demise and failed escape back to Europe, followed by capture and incarceration in Singapore. It’s a gripping and intriguing story which sparked the best selling book, Rogue Trader, and subsequent Hollywood movie starring Ewan McGregor.