Philip Augar is a British author and a former Group Managing Director at Schroders plc. He was a member of the team that negotiated the sale of Schroders' investment bank to Citicorp in 2000 but left the industry at the time of the sale in order to write.
He is best known for his books on finance. The first,·The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism, was published in 2001 and·told the story of the collapse of London's investment banks in the years after Big Bang, London's financial deregulation of 1986. The book was a best seller but was controversial in drawing attention to an event that had previously been overlooked, and in attributing it to mismanagement as much as to globalisation.·
In 2005 he turned his attention to Wall Street. The Greed Merchants explored the high level of profits and compensation in the closed world of America's largest investment banks. Augar attributed this to what he called The Edge, an information advantage enjoyed by the banks as a result of a business model that often enabled them to act simultaneously for buyers, sellers and themselves. The Greed Merchants ends by repeating a call first made in Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism to break up the banks.
This theme recurred in Augar's book about the banking crisis, Chasing Alpha (published in 2009, short listed for the Stearns Boook Prize and renamed Reckless in paperback), . The book focussed on events in the UK and put groupthink at the centre of the story. Overblown faith in finance and the free market affected politicians, regulators and bankers. Banking swept all before it in the years leading up to the crisis, as bankers worked their way into positions of influence in Westminster and Whitehall while critics were marginalised and told that "they just didn't get it". Chasing Alpha suggested that the banking industry would survive a period of reflection and reform and emerge with its business model intact.
In addition to his five books, Philip Augar has written many articles for the Financial Times and other publications. He was a non-executive board member at the Department for Education from 2004-2010, a position he now holds at the Home Office. He was a member of the cross-party Future of Banking Commission chaired by David Davies MP in 2010 and the same year advised the Scottish Parliament's inquiry into the banking crisis. He holds a doctorate in History and is a Visiting Fellow at·the Institute of Historical Research.
He is currently working on an oral history project, recording interviews with key figures in the banking crisis and others with interesting life stories. The audio-interviews will appear on this site in due course.
Last Updated on Friday, 09 September 2011 12:06