ALL flights grounded by the volcanic dust cloud, Andreas Loizou joined the queue at Zurich train station to buy a ticket for Paris.
Ahead of him a man called out his name. “Do you remember me? I was a student on your course,” he said, smiling with recognition.
Mr Loizou, who runs a training company specialising in finance, sees thousands of students a year. He half recognised him.
Later, on the train, the two had lunch. It was clear that the man, now an investment director at a private bank, was very wealthy.
He started to tell his former tutor how he made his money when his phone rang. He excused himself and disappeared.
The train reached the border with France and gendarmes with dogs got on board. There was a commotion. The gendarmes approached Mr Loizou. They ordered him off the train. They started questioning him.
“You know this man,” they told him. “We have pictures of him smiling at you at the station. We have pictures of you taking lunch together.”
The man had been followed. Mr Loizou, married with a baby daughter, was getting worried. A woman appeared, a policewoman perhaps, and started telling him about his former student.
“This guy has stolen a huge amount of money from the bank he was working at,” she said. “We think you are associated with him. Tell us what he has been up to or we will ruin your career.”
You can find out what happened next in The Devil’s Deal, Mr Loizou’s best-selling book, or by hearing him speak at Sheffield’s Off the Shelf literary festival on October 29.
Mr Loizou, a Leeds University graduate, worked in the City before setting up his training company a dozen years ago.
His training work has taken him all over the world. After an Icelandic volcano grounded flights in 2010, triggering the chance meeting with the former student, Mr Loizou decided to tell the story.
“The book details my attempts to catch him,” he said. “It’s a thriller, based on true events, which teaches you about how the world of finance works.
“Dirty tricks, fiddles, cons and manipulations – they’re all covered.”
The book is Financial Times Publishing’s second-best selling business book in translation, with deals signed in China, Japan, Korea and Malaysia, among other countries.
Mr Loizou explained the approach to his first book: “In every financial thriller there’s always a moment when the narrative stops and the writer has to explain as quickly as possible what an equity is or how a derivative works.
“I’ve taken that idea and extended it. My approach was I will tell the story, which is based on reality, and when something technical comes up I will explain that in more detail. It’s a mix of novel and teaching book.
“I wanted to do something that was really different and not just a textbook; there are thousands of those and nobody is reading them for fun or excitement.
“People are much more aware of the impact that the City and all types of finance have on all of us all the time.”
Mr Loizou, who qualified as a chartered accountant at PwC after university, worked as an equity analyst researching UK and Spanish banking stocks for pension fund clients.
Speaking about the current state of the banking industry, Mr Loizou said: “Everyone involved knows that banks are going to be less profitable.
“That’s because of increased regulation and the need to keep more capital relative to the risks they are taking, which is more expensive.
“There is going to be more control. But it’s still a relatively easy business to make money in. It’s just that people are going to make less.
“If you look back at the period 2004-07 everyone in banking was making too much.
“I completely understand how people who are not involved just hate the sector as a whole because people were making huge amounts and not risking any of their own money.”
Audience with an expert
ANDREAS Loizou was the highest-rated finance speaker in the FT’s Intro to the City programme for six years in a row.
The former City analyst delivers financial courses throughout the world.
He is appearing at Sheffield’s Off the Shelf literary festival next Monday evening.
The event on Monday promises to be interactive with open discussions on the fear, greed and risk associated with the financial markets.
Mr Loizou has a first class degree in English from Leeds University and M.Phil from St Catherine’s College at Cambridge University.
Tickets are available at www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/devilsdeal