Helping clients roll with the punches is second nature to Daniel Larner, who has worked for 16 years at BNY Mellon in a variety of relationship management roles. Currently based in Hong Kong, he is a vice president and relationship manager for securities finance and has also served hedge fund and broker-dealer clients. Recently, he stepped into the boxing ring to take part in one of the Hong Kong financial community’s signature fundraising events – Hedge Fund Fight Nite. He spoke with Behind the Scenes about the experience.
What made you want to lace up your boxing gloves?
I arrived in Hong Kong in September 2015, and my first week here, I had the opportunity to watch a colleague participate in Hedge Fund Fight Nite. It’s a black tie event with a sit-down dinner surrounding a boxing ring, and there is also a charity fundraising auction. Fight Nite is such a unique event, and I decided on the spot that I would throw my hat in the ring for the following year. I liked the social aspect, and I was drawn to the discipline it would bring.
I started training in the winter of 2015 and it was my first time boxing, apart from playing at it with my brother when we were 7 or 8. I’m a rank amateur, and that is really the spirit of the event. I was more athletic when I was younger, and used to run marathons reasonably well. But it gets harder to carve out time as the years go by. I saw Fight Nite as an opportunity to springboard back into a higher level of conditioning and fitness. And it worked -- in the course of my training, I lost 14 kilos (31 pounds.)
How did you train?
I took it one hour at a time. I had a structured boxing plan that I followed every day. Outside this routine, I enrolled in another gym to work on basic core strength and conditioning training. Over a five-month training period, I was in the gym every day at 6am and again at 7pm. Each session was generally an hour.
There were so many benefits to training for the event. Outside of the office, being involved in training gave me a new social outlet, which is important when you’re in a new city. Although boxing is ultimately an individual sport, there is great camaraderie when you’re training. And training helped me stay very focused at work. I felt sharper and more alert once I got into the exercise routine.
You can’t be a boxer without a nickname. What was yours?
They called me Danny “Wideboy” Larner in the ring. I’m from Essex, outside of London, and a wideboy is a guy who lives by his wits – that’s the Essex stereotype. One of my colleagues who works in trading gave me that name. My opponent in the ring was a global markets professional from South Africa who goes by “Highveld Storm.”
There are training rounds and elimination rounds over the course of months, so making it to the finals was a real thrill. Fight Nite was in June, and eight pairs of boxers met in the ring for three rounds, totaling six minutes per match. And it’s not all men, by the way. We had four women among our group of 16. In my match, Highveld Storm was declared the winner on points, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
It sounds like a great entrée into Hong Kong. What has it been like working halfway around the world from your home in the UK?
It has gone incredibly well. I had a number of colleagues who worked for our London office and gradually relocated to Hong Kong. I had stayed in touch and let them know that if the right role came along, I’d be interested. It really helped to plant the seed and let people know I’d be interested in a move, because when it happened, it happened quickly. Fortunately, I had visited Hong Kong and built up a sense of what to expect. I’ve had the travel bug since I was young – I spent a year in Australia when I was 21, backpacking, traveling around, and working to pay my way.
We have a great mix of colleagues from around the globe here in Hong Kong, from Britain, Australia and the U.S. Mobility is something BNY Mellon does very well. I’ve occupied five or six roles in the relationship management space over years. Having the opportunity to learn new skills and work with new clients and products is something that has made it very easy for me to build a career here.
Will you be involved in Fight Nite again?
There is a next level for trainers, and I’m signing up for that. But you can’t get in the ring again, so I’m scouting for the next BNY Mellon competitor. We’re hoping that Markets offers up another participant. I’ve got my eyes on a candidate from Foreign Exchange.
I want to stay involved because Fight Nite is ultimately a great cause. This year’s event benefited three organizations – Beam International, which provides free treatment for children in China with cleft lip and cleft palate; Operation Breakthrough, which works with at-risk youth in Hong Kong, and the Sovereign Art Foundation, which uses arts education, therapy, and rehabilitation to help disadvantaged kids.