In Memoriam: Piers Brooke, 73
Leader in Asia/Pacific
Piers Brooke, a stalwart of Chase's Asia Pacific region and other areas in the 1960s and 1970s, died at his home in England on April 23, 2014, at the age of 73.
Brooke started his Chase banking career in the mid-1960s in London, attended the Credit Training Program in New York and returned to London as a bank officer. He transferred to New York Training Department management at the end of the 1960s and moved to Paris as Assistant General Manager Commercial Banking in the early 1970s. In the mid-1970s, he became General Manager Hong Kong Branches. He subsequently became a regional manager in Asia Pacific.
He returned to London for a funding position at the end of the 1970s. From there he moved to the Midland Bank and stayed in UK banking for the balance of his career, including stints with Lloyds Bank International, Lloyds Merchant Bank and NatWest.
He was educated at Eton College and gained the rank of Lieutenant in the service of the Scots Guards.
Brooke is survived by his wife, the former Susan Wheeler Davenport, and children, Sebastian and Arabella.
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From Leon Desbrow: I had the pleasure of working for Piers Brooke in New York and in Paris. Later he moved to Hong Kong and served in Asia for Chase. He went on to work at a number of British banks and was able to give them some insights into "American-style" banking management.
Piers was very much a gentleman and very correct and somewhat formal in all his business dealings. But he was always very kind to me as I started on my career at Chase, and I was disappointed that he did not stay longer at the bank.
From Bill Coulter: Like many of those in senior positions at Chase in the 1970s, Piers was exceptional and unique – the exact opposite of the stereotypical banker.
One of my fondest memories of Piers was a dinner my wife and I shared with Piers and his wife on the veranda of the Repulse Bay Hotel in Hong Kong. The year was 1977 or 1978. I am not sure if there was another couple with us, but it is not important. Piers was a Brit, we were in Hong Kong, and the overhead fans turned slowly as we enjoyed a evening meal and good conversation. It could not have been a more pleasant or satisfying occasion.
I also recall hearing that when Piers was hired by Chase his education included Eton College. Assuming that Piers had a college degree (in U.S. terms), he was offered a job. While Eton College is undoubtedly an educational institution of high standing, Piers did not have a college or a university degree. Had this been known, he would have most likely not been hired. (I do not recall where or when I heard this story, so it needs to be confirmed by others. If confirmed it says a lot more about Chase than it does about Piers.)
From Charles Adams: I am so saddened. Piers was a once-in-a-lifetime figure: Elegant, articulate and to the point. And shrewd in the way he faced the professional challenges I was privileged to share with him on the occasions in London and Hong Kong when I worked with him. Above all, I remember his wickedly great senses of irony and humor. Such a great human being and valued mentor.
From Roger Griffin: During the time when we both worked at Chase our careers had a curious way of converging though always, I hasten to add, with Piers as the senior. Piers was the senior Englishman in London branch when I joined the credit department there in 1968 – senior not in the sense of age, there were of course older Englishmen with longer careers and, for all I remember, higher titles, but in the sense that he was the senior English graduate of the New York credit programme, the path I hoped to follow. He had also served in one of the Guards regiments, I believe, which gave him a certain cachet, and he seemed, among the English, to be the one “going places”. I was only there for six months before transferring to the programme in New York, following which I taught on the programme which coincided with his transfer to New York as deputy head of the training programme, and he was in the line of bosses. I returned to London while he went to Paris and he’d pop over from time to time. Our paths crossed once more when I worked for John Linker in the South East Asia regional office in Hong Kong while Piers was GM of Hong Kong branches and it was my job, inter alia, to review his budgets in preparation for regional budget reviews. Following John Linker’s death, the collapse of the regional offices and the transfer in of Richard Higgerson to run the area from Hong Kong, Piers was appointed deputy to Richard with direct responsibility for the smaller countries. I was briefly the chief planner for the region at that point and we were, I suppose, on the same side. Maybe the last time I saw him wearing a Chase hat was in that role at the festivities surrounding the Chase Board meeting in Tokyo and Kyoto when I was managing the branch in Osaka. In fact a careful look at the back of the picture in the memorial album presented to DR in which we’re all seated on the floor listening to a presenter reveals Piers and his wife Susie. He had, I think, moved on by the time I went to Korea and Fred Figge replaced him otherwise he would have been my direct boss for the first time.
I remember Piers for two principle reasons: First was unfailing courtesy, a great sense of humour and a remarkable ability to manage whatever environment he happened to be operating in; the second as the source of a story I’ve dined out on for years. I guess he must have been discussing with an unnamed Hong Kong businessman their respective approach to disclosure and ethics. “Ah, Mister Brooke,” the man said. “Unlike you we believe the truth is much too valuable a commodity to share." Piers thought that was hilarious, so do I, and I’m sorry to see a good man go.
From Graham Brown: How sad to hear of the death of Piers. He was a wonderful person, friendly and considerate to all. My father-in-law worked for Piers for a numbers of years in London and said he was a true gentleman.
I also worked in London and knew Piers. One of the funny stories I have is at one of the Dinner Dances held in London, which happened to be on the date of my wife's birthday. Piers knew this and took a small cake from the buffet with the intention of giving it to my wife. Unfortunately, he was waylaid en route and the cake was hurriedly put in his jacket pocket, where he forgot about it until a good while later. What a mess! He just laughed it off and sent the suit to the cleaners the next day!
A lovely man. My thoughts are with his family. He will be missed.
From Tony Lord: I was "recruited" to the Global Credit Program by Chuck Craig, GM, Chase - Hongkong in 1968, and subsequently went through a complete panel of interviews in New York in May of that year.
In the interim, I was blessed by being able to sit down and talk with two of the earliest "colony" recruits - Messrs Brooke and Dorman in Chase London office.
While Piers and I never had the pleasure of actually working together, his input as to how CMB worked, had a very positive impact on my decision to join the Global Credit Program in New York.
My thanks for your counsel, and my fondest wishes to your family going forward.
From Joe Murphy: A warm smile and fond memories of Piers Brooke especially after reading Roger Griffin's kind words about Piers. Yes, Piers was a gentleman and talented banker in both my experiences with Piers as a Statement Analyst in 1970 at the start of CCI then later in HK in 1978 in APAO.
Piers and Tony Terraciano were responsible for Global Credit at the time. CCI indicated that there was a new design to the curriculum for future lending officers. Global Credit was undergoing change. Piers led us through Global Credit; he would meet with our Class describing the changes, the program, the opportunities and the risk of an early exit.
When I arrived in HK in October 1978 for what must have been a perfunctory interview for A/P Regional Institutional Manager after so many interviews at Head Office, Tim McGinnis was the direct / "solid" line Manager / AIM. Piers was the A/P Regional Manager was the "dotted" line Manager. I made an inept attempt to share with Piers the "McKinsey Approach" to matrix management. Listening intently, asking great questions in his office at WTC, Piers summed it all up by saying that we in APAO had all of the responsibility for the P&L but none of the authority – that was at Head Office.
Piers' simple summary and conclusion have been a measuring stick in my career for the past 36 years. He worded it so succinctly and correctly. I never pulled out that McKinsey exhibit again.
Strength to Piers family after his passing.
From Andrew Pucher: Piers went from Eton to serve in the Scots Guards before beginning his banking career. Not having a University degree did not prevent him from finishing his Credit Training in near record time. He entered the program some time before me, and for some months we shared a car pool of three in my battered VW Beetle from uptown to Chase Plaza each day. Our third commuter was regularly a few minutes late. Others would have grumbled or complained but not Piers. He just devised a plan as wickedly clever and effective as it was still kind and courteous to resolve the problem once and for all with laughter all 'round. There were other moments that I remember of a highly competent good, fair reliable and trustworthy man. Our paths then took us to different parts of the world.
God speed Piers on your final journey. It was a privilege to have been your colleague and contemporary.