Achilles Macris is one of the most talked executives of the last few days – he is the trader who spearheaded the strategy behind the losing bet that JP Morgan made and cost the bank more than $2 billion.
According to a JP Morgan announcement, the bank lost $2 billion in the past six weeks in a trading portfolio designed to hedge against risks the company takes with its own money.
Macris was in charge of the London-based operation that placed the questionable trades and stepped down after the move that also damaged the reputation of another Greek-American, the head of JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon.
But who is the Greek who made one of the worst bets in financial history? His colleagues describe Macris as very smart, someone who liked to think differently about things and not afraid to voice his opinion. The 50-year-old, who previously held a proprietary trading role at Dresdner Kleinwort and also spent time at Cardinal Asset Management, joined the U.S. investment bank in London in 2006.
One former employee speaking to Reuters, said that Macris was ambitious and allowed their charges to trade freely in all products except commodities.
“He was a larger than life character, but he wasn’t viewed as a reckless guy,” said the former colleague who worked with Macris at Bankers Trust in the 1990s.
“He had strong opinions and he expressed them,” he said, and this sometimes rubbed people up the wrong way.
Another colleague said he was “sparky,” while somebody else described him as “something of a firebrand to say the least.”
The banker, who has both Greek and U.S. citizenship, leads a more subdued life outside the office.
Neighbors at his central London flat in a 19th century mansion block, whose residents include a high court judge, company directors and fellow bankers, said they didn’t see much of him.
Others said he traveled a lot, while a member of staff at the block described Macris as “really nice and polite.”
One former colleague said Macris had a broad range of interests and could hold a conversation on any topic.
“He just knows everything about everything,” he said.