A former Barclays investment banker once dubbed the “poster child for the excesses of the investment banking industry” is returning to finance as the chairman of an online currency trading platform.
Former Barclays executive Rich Ricci is joining peer-to-peer currency exchange freemarketFX, the Financial Times reports. The startup, founded in 2011, matches buyers and sellers of currency directly with each other in a marketplace model, charging just a fixed 0.2% fee.
Ricci is best known as a lieutenant of ex-Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, who was dubbed the “unacceptable face of banking” by Lord Peter Mandelson in 2010. Ricci and Diamond rose to prominance in Barclay’s investment banking arm, BarCap, which Ricci ran between 2009 and 2013.
Ricci, Diamond, and two other executives were dubbed the “four musketeers” within Barclays, and blamed for bringing “casino banking” to the British lender in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis.
The Independent called Ricci the “poster child for the excesses of the investment banking industry” in 2013 after he sold £18 million-worth of Barclays shares on the day of an austerity budget. That same year, trilby-wearing Ricci entered a race horse named “Fatcatinthehat” into the Cheltenham Festival.
Given his background, its perhaps surprising Ricci is getting involved in fintech, also know as financial technology. Many online and tech focused finance startups that have sprung up since the financial crisis have promoted themselves as fairer, more honest alternatives to banks, and have played on the distrust of big lenders like Barclays that has arisen in the post-2008 era.
freemarketFX bills itself as “simple, fair, efficient” on its website contrasting its low fee model with expensive banks and brokers. The company was founded by Alex Hunn, a former Credit Suisse First Boston and Deutsche Bank vice-president and director.