Davenport ’80 Runs Foreign Exchange At Barclays Capital

Tim Davenport ’80 certainly knows a thing or two about money. Currently the Head of Foreign Exchange Structuring in the Americas for Barclays Capital, Davenport works as an intermediary between salespeople and traders. The foreign exchange market involves the buying and selling of foreign currencies. In the market, salespeople represent clients who are in the process of transferring money from one currency to another. Traders then determine the prices at which to buy and sell the foreign currencies. If a problem arises, Davenport and his department must assume the responsibility to come up with a solution, which the salespeople will communicate to the clients and the traders will execute. Much of Davenport’s work involves hedging – he tries to preserve the value of his clients’ assets against an adverse outcome, like a sudden drop in a foreign currency they hold. “Currently market conditions are difficult, so there’s a certain amount of angst, but if you’re able to handle the pressure, [this job] is actually really enjoyable,” Davenport said. “What’s so exciting [about my job] is that all sorts of problems flow though,” he said. “I work on interesting problems and help out clients. There is constant intellectual stimulation to come up with innovative solutions, and sometimes quickly.” Davenport is currently working on a project to help complete a transaction that requires raising enough foreign funds so that a U.S. company can purchase a company within that country. The transaction could take several months, he said. Davenport previously worked for Bear Stearns until this past June, when they were forced to merge with JPMorgan after many people began pulling their money out of Bear Stearns in what Davenport said was essentially a “bank run.” Employees were given a chance to stay at JPMorgan, said Davenport, but many were offered “favorable terms” to take jobs elsewhere, and Davenport said he chose to leave because of the opportunity at Barclays Capital. “[The economy is] already in a recession…It’s longer and deeper than anything we’ve experienced in quite a while,” said Davenport. “I think the government is responding with every tool at its disposal, understanding the depth of the problem and doing everything they can. The first step wisely was to support the banking system, which was important for everyone, not just bankers. Now they should more directly address the economy,” he said. “America is very resilient; we always find our way out of these difficult times, and this should be no different,” Davenport continued. Davenport said he knew he wanted to go into finance at a very young age. Davenport’s father worked for Ford Motor Company’s legal department, but he often dealt with financial issues. Davenport said, “When I was young, my dad would talk about all these smart young people from Goldman Sachs that would come in and were very well educated and very smart. They seemed to have exciting careers.” Davenport also partly attributes his current standing to his experiences at Andover, particularly under the instructorship of Lou Bernieri, Instructor in English – “an exceptional human being” who helped “shape [Davenport] in life.” Davenport said he admires “the way [Bernieri] sets priorities about all aspects of life. Helping people is such a high priority to him, and how he conducts himself is just great.” “Andover gave me a well-rounded, balanced education and also exposed me to very high-caliber people. In many cases, Andover will bring out the best in someone by challenging and pushing someone, and in my case that’s what it did,” Davenport said. “The mindset brought out and reinforced at Andover was a very important element in pursuing my goals and achieving them,” he said. When asked for a piece of advice for current Andover students, Davenport said, “Obvious traits of successful people start to show themselves at Andover. Pursue something for which you have a true passion because there is no way you can do something for 25 years if you don’t love it.” Davenport considers it key for students to work hard, show perseverance and in general to choose a field in which they have some aptitude. Though no Andover connections have directly helped further Davenport’s career, he said that he has come across many Andover alumni in his work. A Michigan native, Davenport said he had heard of Phillips Academy through his parents, but that it was his decision to apply to boarding school. Davenport had heard that Andover and Exeter were the two best schools, so he applied and was accepted into both, but he “strongly preferred” Andover, he said. After graduating from Andover, Davenport attended Harvard until 1984. He currently resides in New Canaan, CT with his wife and four children.