Ian Perkins, a man with many friends, dies suddenly

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Ian Perkins, a long-time executive and entrepreneur in asset servicing in Australia and Asia, spending the past six years at BNP Paribas Securities Services in Sydney, died suddenly of a heart attack on Sunday June 29, age 57, while at home with his family. Friends at BNP Paribas prepared a short personal tribute which concluded: “We will miss you and remember you forever Perko.” Ian had a lot of friends throughout the industry.

He had recently left BNP Paribas and was embarking on a new enterprise, joining his friend Paul Toepfer in the start-up consulting firm KONU. Both had spent their formative years, as so many in that segment of the industry have done, at State Street, where Ian started in 1994, becoming a senior vice president before moving to the former RBC Dexia as head of relationship management and client service.

In 2005 he co-founded Morse Consulting with Philip Hope and led the establishment of its Asian arm. Morse was subsequently acquired by Deloitte, but Ian had left the firm to get back into securities services before then. Philip Hope, who is now setting up a new consulting arm for the Ashurst legal firm, said that Morse became a successful and well-respected niche consulting firm. “Ian was extremely well known, respected and liked by clients and industry participants. He had a passion for the APAC region and grew the business in Singapore and Hong Kong. He was a larger than life character and enjoyed all social interactions.”

Peter Baker, who was the head of BNP Paribas Securities Services who recruited Ian after he had left Morse, also mentioned his likable nature but also his diligence about work. “He picked up three mandates in quick succession after joining BNP Paribas,” he said. “Ian was a great mentor to his team and others who worked with him. He was awesome.” Baker is now partner at Mercer Institutional Wealth for Australia and New Zealand.

Ian’s success in banking, according to another former colleague, was because he was not a typical banker. “He was creative, courageous, innovative, a rule breaker and most happy when he had a white board and would collaborate on big ideas and, of course, gather an audience. When Ian had a cause, a project or an opinion that he was passionate about there was no stopping him. We all know that he could talk under water if you let him.”

Ian was also an accomplished pianist with a love of music. “If he wasn’t talking about his kids he was talking about music,” one of his BNP Paribas colleagues said. “The piano was an expression of who he was.” Another described him as a “restless dreamer”. He had a creative side which often came out in his work. David Braga, the current head of BNP Securities Services, added that Ian was also a keen golfer and liked nothing better than a game of golf with his son Jackson.

His career tended to overlap with that of Steve Tremelling, another industry friend who is now the Australian boss of systems company SS&C. It was the position vacated by Tremelling at BNP Paribas that Ian had filled. Ian also acted as chief executive of BNP Paribas for several months prior to David Braga’s appointment. Tremelling said: “Ian was a rare breed – a leader who combined outstanding industry knowledge with exceptional people skills. He had the ability to connect closely from the chairman of an organisation down to the recent graduate. Ian was always loved and admired by all those who worked with, and for, him. I have never heard a bad word said about Ian over the past 25-plus years. He will be sorely missed.”

After leaving BNP Paribas in March, Ian linked up with Paul Toepfer and Greig Nicholson at KONU, which was launched last year. Toepfer said that Ian was full of ideas and energy about where they could take the business. “Like us, he believed it was all about the people and wanted it to be an engaging and fun place to work. He instilled a lot of confidence in Greig and I. We’re still in shock.” KONU is a change and implementation consulting firm where the team roll up their sleeves to help implement the required change – a bit like the old Morse Consulting. Ian placed a high regard on the importance of people in any business.

Ian Perkins is survived by wife Anna and their daughter Claudia, 15, as well as son Jackson, 19, and older daughter, Abby, 17, along with his first wife, Suzanna.

– G.B.

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