The biker driving ideas in the City

Kathleen Brooks
AFTER spending 10 years talking about the idea of starting his own economic consultancy in the pub with friends and colleagues, Danny Gabay decided to take the plunge. After a road trip around the US in a jeep (he’s also a keen biker), Fathom Consulting, an independent economic and financial market consultancy, was born.

Gabay leveraged his economics pedigree – he studied at Queen Mary and Westfield College in London, graduating in 1992 – with his experience working for the Bank of England and then for investment bank JP Morgan. He set up Fathom in 2003 and there are now 11 people in the company.

Fathom’s main selling point is that it bucks the pervasive trends that dominate the “street” in favour of a contrarian view. “I am the least likely person to agree with something just because someone else said it,” says Gabay. “We think what we think and are able to defend our views.”

For example, while a large majority in the City believe that China will be the saviour of the global economy, Gabay isn’t so sure: “They have 2.3 trillion in US dollar reserves, their economic model is heavily reliant on US demand and that isn’t sustainable.”

Gabay’s profile keeps rising. His name pops up in national newspapers, for which he writes economic commentary. Fathom also conducts the Monetary Policy Forum, which meets to debate actions taken by the
Bank of England and includes former Monetary Policy Committee members, journalists and analysts.

“We wanted to establish an objective cross check on the Bank of England,” says Gabay from the Fathom offices on Gresham Street. “The Bank didn’t see the leverage problem building up in the UK prior to the financial crisis because they were too focussed on inflation. We are creating the first open debate about how the Bank works and in the process we hope to influence the way it thinks.”

Although Fathom landed its first client straight away, it wasn’t all plain sailing. “We charge for our research and at first people would question why they would pay us when they get it for free elsewhere like from an investment bank. But,we had to persuade people that what you get for free isn’t always worth having.”

Fathom did not get through the economic downturn unscathed, but it did mange to expand its client base, which now includes NGOs and the US government agencies.

Although his road trip days are over, Gabay is still going it alone, this time though it’s the twists and turns of financial analysis rather than the long American roads.

Age: 41
Born and grew up: Leeds
Last book he read: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Favourite football team:  Leeds United, “I get to watch them a lot on TV, but I haven’t been to a live match yet this season.”

Family: “My wife is Italian and I am trying to learn the language so I can speak it when we visit her family. Right now it’s slow going.” He also has an eight-month-old son.

Other interests: He also likes cinema, and HBO box-sets. He is currently on season four of The Wire.
Another interest is travel. Gabay used to use all of his holiday time to travel around the world on a motorbike including an epic trip around Saigon in Vietnam.
Now he drives a motor bike to work in the City. He says London, is his favourite place – apart from New York.