Patrick Birley, the former CEO of NEX Exchange, LCH.Clearnet, the Climate Exchange and SAFEX and devoted father to his three daughters, passed away on 25 October.
Patrick’s career in finance spanned more than 30 years and established him as one of the industry’s great innovators, pioneering the development of electronic trading and carbon credits.
After growing up in the North East of England, Patrick sought to expand his horizons by moving to South Africa in his early 20s.
There, Patrick achieved success early in his career, becoming the chief executive of the South African Futures Exchange (SAFEX) in 1989 while only 24, the world’s youngest exchange CEO.
Patrick understood early on the potential of electronic trading, introducing a fully electronic trading system in 1996. This helped to build the market into one of the world’s most active derivatives exchanges by the early 2000s.
Patrick left SAFEX following its sale to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and relocated with his family back to the UK, where he joined the London Metal Exchange as director of strategy before moving to LCH.Clearnet as CEO in 2006.
Throughout his career, Patrick always wanted to do more than succeed and always sought opportunities to improve the world around him. In 2007, he joined the fledgling European Climate Exchange, where he pioneered the concept of carbon trading and built the exchange into a top 40 global futures exchange by volume in 2009, a significant achievement for a single asset class bourse.
After the sale of the European Climate Exchange to Intercontinental Exchange in 2010, Patrick embarked on a career as a consultant. Unusually for a consultant, Patrick was honest in his appraisals of the projects he was employed to deliver and frequently reduced his time in situ with a company by advising them not to take the project forward. For those that took his advice, this saved the companies millions, but all too often resulted in short stints of employment for Patrick.
Patrick took a break from finance in 2013 and spent two years running Goddard’s Brewery, a small craft beer brewery on the Isle of Wight.
In 2015, Patrick was tempted back to the City by Michael Spencer, who recruited him to run the NEX Exchange, the London-based equities market. Over six years at NEX Exchange, Patrick innovated with numerous initiatives to restore the fortunes of the exchange, which was subsequently sold to Aquis Exchange in 2019.
Following the sale of NEX Exchange, Patrick dedicated himself to causes close to his heart. He was a volunteer for the Samaritans, manning the phones in their call centre – a role that gave him immense satisfaction. In addition, he was an investor in environmental causes.
At the time of his death, he was in the process of setting up a charity for young people with mental health problems in the West of England.
Above all, Patrick was a devoted father to his three daughters, Tash, Jess and Lara. His daughters were the world to him, and he never missed the opportunity to regale his friends with their latest achievements.
For all his career successes, for those that knew him, “Birley” will always be remembered as the most dependable and generous friend, whose kindness and capacity for childish humour knew no bounds. His unique natural energy, infectious laughter and love of mischief endeared him to (almost!) all who met him and he will be greatly missed by those that had the privilege of knowing him.