Ex-RBS Strategist Swaps Singapore for Colorado Ski Slopes

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Greg Gibbs is swapping downtown Singapore for the ski slopes of Colorado, as the 26-year foreign-exchange industry veteran departs Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc to set up a research firm in the Rocky Mountains.

The 49-year-old Sydney native plans to work Asian hours producing research on major and Asia-Pacific currencies, as well as Australia and New Zealand interest rates. He started buying properties including ski condos in Colorado some four years ago to get ahead of a rally in the greenback that has seen it soar from a record low against the Aussie dollar.

“I’m very serious about the business plan and that’s my number one passion and goal at the moment,” the father of two said in a phone interview Friday. “I’m not checking out -- I’m definitely checking in -- but of course, it would be nice once I drop the kids off to school in the morning to go and ski for a couple of hours before I start work.”

Gibbs is joining a trend among finance professionals of working at a location of their own choosing rather than the centers of global commerce. European alpine resorts such as Verbier and Chamonix have lured traders and fund managers from places such as London as they seek proximity to their favorite pastimes.

Gibbs is starting a company called Amplifying Global FX Capital which he intends to base in the historic town of Breckenridge, located at an altitude of 9,600 feet (2,926 meters) and with a population of less than 5,000 at the 2010 census.

‘My Ideas’

“I will be trading my own capital and writing about my ideas,” Gibbs wrote in a press release Aug. 17. “I have always written reports with the mind-set of a trader, bridging the gap between fundamental analysis and trading strategy.”

Gibbs started his career as an economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia in 1989 and has since lived in New York and London. He also plans to trade his own money and expand his business into capital management.

He joined RBS in Sydney in 2007 when the Edinburgh-based bank acquired his previous employer ABN Amro after a bidding war. Mansoor Mohi-uddin, formerly global head of foreign-exchange strategy at UBS Group AG, joined RBS this month to cover major and emerging-market currencies from Singapore.

Gibbs said he started moving assets into U.S. dollars in 2011 as he forecast the currency would appreciate. The greenback has surged 50 percent from a 2011 low against Australia’s dollar as the South Pacific nation’s mining boom ended and the Federal Reserve moved toward raising interest rates.

The U.S. currency has now priced in the prospect of higher borrowing costs, Gibbs said.

A gauge of the dollar against 10 of its major peers slid 1.7 percent in the second quarter after surging almost 20 percent during the previous nine months.

“The market’s now in a much more balanced state than it has been and it’s not easy to be just saying ‘buy dollars’ because the U.S. is going to be raising interest rates sooner than the others,” Gibbs said. “It’s almost as if the currency has to weaken a bit to allow the Fed to proceed.”