OHA Australia Wide – Giles Borten (OH ’85)

An investment banker and one of the OHA’s new Chapter Ambassadors

Years at Haileybury:  1979 to 1985

Current location:  Sydney

Other locations:  Adelaide, Hong Kong and London

In this edition of OHA Australia Wide, we introduce you to Giles Borten (OH ’85): an investment banker who is one of the OHA’s new Chapter Ambassadors.  The OHA has recently appointed Chapter Ambassadors for NSW, Queensland, the ACT, South Australia and Western Australia.  Giles is one of two for NSW.  The Chapter Ambassadors will assist OHA members in their State or Territory to stay connected.

Giles attended Haileybury from 1979 to 1985.  He remembers the 1980s as a transformative time for the school, when it grew into a high achieving school in both academics and sport.  He particularly remembers his Latin teacher and house master, Brendan (“Herbie”) Matthews, and his football coach, Nick Tonkin.

After graduating from Haileybury, Giles attended the University of Melbourne for one year before realising he needed a change, so Giles transferred to the University of Adelaide.  Giles says the three years he spent in Adelaide forced him out of his comfort zone and to grow up quickly, but also allowed him to make life-long friends.

After university, Giles commenced working in accounting at Ferrier Hodgson in 1991 in Melbourne.  This was the time of a recession which would not be good news for most graduates, but this presented an opportunity to work on challenging insolvency assignments such as the Pyramid Building Society.  In 1995, Giles moved into banking, which he would pursue for the rest of his career.  He worked in structured finance for ANZ in Melbourne then moved to Sydney in 1997.  In 1999, he started working for JP Morgan then transferred to Hong Kong in 2000.  In 2001, Giles joined UBS running its Asian Leveraged Finance Business.  You can probably tell by now that Giles was always moving onwards and upwards, so it should come as little surprise that his next move was in 2003, this time to London, where he would work with UBS until 2015.  During his time in London, Giles was UBS’s head of leveraged finance for Europe and Asia Pacific, head of its corporate debt capital business for Europe, head of its European restructuring business, a member of its European Management Committee and chair of its European Commitments Committee.

After a stellar career in Europe with UBS, Giles returned to Sydney in 2015 as ANZ’s Global Head of Funds and Insurance, but the desire to start something of his own took hold in 2016.  He then founded Bass Capital as one of two founding partners.  Bass Capital specialises in providing investment capital and funding solutions to mid-sized companies and entrepreneurs to invest in real assets which are generally up to $50 million in value.  Bass Capital is also an investment fund and asset manager with a broad mandate to invest tactically across markets and sectors in search of investment opportunity. From starting with one office in Sydney, Bass Capital has grown significantly over the last four years to now have offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

With almost 30 years’ experience in banking, Giles has certainly experienced some of the most difficult times in financial markets.  He’s worked through the early 90s recession, the .com boom of the late 90s then bust of the early 2000s, the GFC in 2008 and 2009, the European Sovereign Debt Crisis of the early 2010s and now COVID-19.  Giles says that each of these events was unique.  “For the GFC and European Sovereign Debt Crisis, I was front line working at UBS running various European debt capital markets businesses which were significantly impacted”, says Giles. “It was unprecedented.  I think the key was to adapt quickly to the new normal and develop your plans around that rather than dwell on the previous view of the world”.  As for COVID-19, Giles says this is also unique because of the health aspects, but thinks the same principle of adapting quickly to the new normal will be important.  “I also think it’s important to focus on the issues that you can influence so as to manage stress, but this is sometimes easier said than done!”

Giles has certainly lived in some famous cities, so which is best?  “All are great for very different reasons”, says Giles.  “I think Sydney rates as one of the best in the world for quality life. The harbour, the beaches, great weather, a relaxed and healthy lifestyle, but it’s still a big international city.  I spent twelve years in London which I also really enjoyed.  Working in banking, London is a global hub with opportunities you can’t get in smaller locations.”

Looking back on his time at Haileybury, Giles says “it definitely instilled in me a strong work ethic: the harder you work, the higher the probability of success in whatever you are trying to achieve.  My investment banking career definitely demanded this.”

In short

Have you ever met anyone famous? I spent an hour one on one meeting with ex US Vice President Dan Quayle, who was then working for a client of mine. Very interesting insights from a guy who had held that position of power

What are you looking forward to in 2020? Getting back to some form of normality post lock down including being able to watch some live sport.

Do you have a favourite band or performer? Paul Kelly.

If you could meet anyone (dead or alive), who would it be? Kevin Bartlett (childhood hero).

Is there a movie you would recommend?  Most recently, The Gentlemen.

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