Credit: Standard Chartered

Who is Standard Chartered boss Bill Winters?

'Nuclear Winters' is busy wielding the axe at StanChart, but he made his name as Jamie Dimon's number two at JP Morgan and has a mean falsetto.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 26 Apr 2016

‘Nuclear’ Bill Winters became CEO of troubled bank Standard Chartered in June 2015, replacing Peter Sands. Since then, he’s lived up to his explosive nickname, slashing 15,000 jobs and conducting a $5bn rights issue.

Defining moment

Getting sacked by Jamie Dimon. Winters spent 26 years at JP Morgan, rising to co-chief executive of the investment bank in 2004. The American was widely seen as a likely heir apparent at the Wall Street giant, despite being based in London since 1992. That dream died in September 2009, however, when Winters was sacked out of the blue and replaced by Jes Staley (now of Barclays).

The sacking resulting in a new phase for Winters. He sat on the UK’s Independent Commission on Banking, which recommended retail ring-fencing in 2011, and founded asset manager Renshaw Bay later that year. Mostly, though, he was known as the perennial maybe man of international finance, being touted for various leadership roles including Staley’s current gig at Barclays, before finally bagging the top spot at StanChart.

Leadership style

A finance guy’s finance guy. Winters is known for his cautious attitude to risk, helping JP Morgan avoid the worst losses of the 90s Russian debt crisis and publicly condemning the reckless excesses of pre-crisis era bankers (comments he made a week before getting fired from JP Morgan...). He is also well-respected and popular, which may or may not help sweeten the medicine he’s giving Standard Chartered.

What is Bill Winters' plan for Standard Chartered?

The $5.1bn rights issue, dividend cuts, job losses and widespread ‘derisking’ may be hard to swallow, but the overstretched Standard Chartered needed it. In February, Winters reported the bank’s first full-year loss since 1989, largely as a result of the restructuring. Worse, he expects 2016 to remain subdued. Still, investors seem to be coming round to the plan – shares rose 11% after StanChart’s first quarter results revealed a more solid capital and debt position, albeit lower profits.

You may not know

Winters is a CBE and a falsetto.  He got the award in 2013 for services to the economy and UK financial services industry. As for the falsetto... its origins are unclear, but Winters showed it off in 2014 (along with his chest...) in a fundraising video for the Young Vic theatre, where he sits on the board. Viewer discretion advised.

Video courtesy of the Young Vic, via the Wall Street Journal.

In his own words

‘This bank has a history of excellence. It does not have a recent history of excellence’ – on Standard Chartered, November 2015.

‘Greedy bankers, investors and borrowers, inept risk managers and a wholesale banking market in which lending was made to the wrong people at the wrong price’ – on the causes of the financial crisis, September 2009.


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