Born on 25 February 1967 in Watford, northwest of London, Nicholas Leeson attended Parmiter’s School in Garston, near Watford.
The son of a plasterer, Leeson grew up in a working class council estate but always had high aspirations for himself. Teachers considered him a poor mathematician and he graduated from school with only a few qualifications.
With no financial experience, Leeson managed to find work as a clerk at the royal bank Coutts in the early 1980s. This was followed by several other banking jobs and in the early 1990s he began work at Barings Bank. Not only was it the United Kingdom’s oldest investment bank, it was also personal bank to Her Majesty the Queen.
Leeson worked at impressing his superiors and was soon promoted to the trading floor. Within a few years, he was promoted to manager of a new operation in futures markets on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX).
Leeson’s London bosses trusted him implicitly, as he gathered in large profits betting on the future direction of the Nikkei Index. He and his wife, Lisa, lived a life of luxury on his £50,000 salary with bonuses of up to £150,000.