Set against the backdrop of a global financial crisis, Nothing Gained is an international thriller all too true in its time and place. From the densely populated streets of Hong Kong to the country roads of rural Italy, Phillip Y Kim’s insight into the lives of Asia’s one percent will take you on a ride like no other.
Listen to an exclusive clip of author Phillip Y Kim discussing the themes of Nothing Gained, particularly the consequences (or lack thereof) of bad behaviour in the financial sector. Then read some never before published bonus material from the book, a diary of Jason Donahue, the man who’s death sets off the series of events which form the central plot of Nothing Gained.
Jason Donahue (Barker Reed) on a typical day in Hong Kong
6.15 a.m.: Wake to an alarm, not a morning person but drag myself out of bed to have breakfast with my kids. I can’t eat this early so I throw down a double cappuccino to burn off the lingering fog of another sleep-deprived night caused by jet-lag/late-night conference call with the head office in NY/one too many glasses of over-priced Bordeaux over a client dinner…
6.45 a.m.: George (my driver) takes me down to the Hong Kong Country Club for a half hour swim and a banana kiwi protein smoothie
7.30 a.m: Check my emails on my trusty Blackberry on the way into Central – 100 new ones overnight. Typical. My meeting schedule updates (thanks to my assistant Maggie) and as usual it is full.
8.00 a.m.: Breakfast at the Mandarin Grill with a visiting Thai client. I have bircher muesli and mixed fruit, client has abalone congee. The meeting goes well – I get him to agree to my company Barker Reed advising him on the acquisition of a Chinese cement company that he is looking into – potentially a $7 million fee for BR if the deal closes.
10 a.m.: Walk to office in Exchange Square with Todd, my Chief of Staff, who catches me up on the morning’s news, market and research activities. Meet with BR’s Asia head of Capital Markets at the office to review progress of our key deals. Market fears caused by the Eurozone debt crisis have him feeling antsy but I push him hard to keep trying to find additional pools of investor money. We need the revenue.
11 a.m.: Video conference with Singapore office re. pitching a junk bond deal to an Indonesian pharmaceutical company. JP Morgan is pitching as well. Have a light-bulb moment and decide to invite the CEO to attend BR’s global bond forum (read golfing and Montecristo No.2 Cuban cigars) next month at Pebble Beach, California as my personal guest. Judging by his response it looks like it may have won the day.
11.45 a.m.: Meet Cheryl, my wife, and her art consultant at a Hollywood Road art gallery – she has her eye on a Yue Minjun painting. I dutifully play the ‘bad cop’ role, complaining about the piece until we get the discount that we were looking for.
12.30 p.m.: Lunch at Caprice’s with BR’s head of China, the CEO of a major Chinese fashion retailer, and a junior colleague Dominique who is a distraction from the actual business. My monkfish carpaccio and veal tenderloin are delicious. After lunch Dominique walks me back to the office, discreetly kissing my cheek before we part ways – sadly I won’t have time for her later today.
2.30 p.m: Todd briefs me on a summary of the day’s urgent emails and other matters that are flowing up through the management ranks. We spend an hour planning our responses.
3.30 p.m.: Telephone call with BR London’s Investment Banking division head to discuss cross-border deals and year-to-date revenues.
6.00 p.m.: Walk to Central Pier – have been roped into mingling with fifteen newly hired MBAs on our company junk Ambition Ahoy before they set sail on a habour cruise. I grab a cold can of Carlsberg as I step onboard.
7.30 p.m: Closing dinner at Felix, the Philippe Stark-designed restaurant in the Peninsula, for a successful $1 billion bond financing for a Korean client. Red wine is drunk as shots until we move on to “atomic bombs” – shots of whisky diluted with a touch of beer. After four rounds and counting, no one is particularly focused on the five course meal. In terms of follow-on entertainment the client’s objectives have been made plain: Macau. I hand each of our visiting guests an envelope containing US$1,000 in cash for ‘gambling’. As they head off to catch the ferry I call George to take me home.
10.45 p.m.: A management conference call with NY ends just before midnight. I take a melatonin pill and try to get a few hours of sleep as Cheryl slumbers next to me. I hope this life makes her happy.
[Jason Donahue is a fictional character from the financial thriller Nothing Gained by Hong Kong based investment banker Phillip Y. Kim]