Nicholas Monteith has the sort of CV that someone starting in banking right now might exchange a body part for. Educated at Eton College, he has 25 years' experience selling Japanese equities to clients in London. He spent 15 years at Dresdner Kleinwort, latterly as a director, and two years at Mitsubishi UFJ. Nevertheless, Monteith has joined the mass of ex-bankers who've mysteriously disappeared from the radar. Unable to find a new equity sales job, he now runs a Camden taxi firm instead.
"I want to get another job in Japanese equity sales, but there don't seem many around," says Monteith. "I set up Mornington Cars as a side-venture while I was working for Mitsubishi, but I never imagined that I'd be doing this full time."
Like most people with long banking careers, Monteith survived several cycles before finding himself locked out of the City. He left Dresdner in 2001 when they shut their Japanese desk and promptly got a new job at Mitsubishi. "I was let go when all the culling took place in 2009," he says.
Although Japanese equities have had an incredible run this year thanks to so-called, 'Abenomics', Monteith says few banks are hiring experienced Japanese equity salesmen in London. "I heard that one of the big U.S. banks just let go of their last London-based salesman this week," he says. "I'm still in contact with a lot of former clients and colleagues, and still hear from headhunters," he adds.
While he waits for headhunters to call, Monteith is building Mornington Cars into a business that will generate enough to pay his living costs. At the moment, he has 29 drivers using their own cars, but doesn't make enough to live on.
Addison Lee, London's largest minicab firm, was recently sold to Carlyle for £300m, suggesting there's big money to be made from minicabs in London. Monteith agrees, but says it's harder to make money if you don't own your own fleet (Addison Lee does). "It makes a big difference if you can get corporate accounts," he says, "but corporate accounts all want drivers with Mercedes or BMWs."
Ultimately, Monteith thinks Mornington Cars will win on price: "We charge £30 to get to Heathrow airport - Addison Lee charge more like £60. Businesses can't afford to pay that kind of money any more." And once he gets to 50 drivers, Monteith says Mornington Cars will take off: "Beyond 50 drivers, your income increases exponentially. We aspire to make £1,500 a week from this business."