Scuba diving master, speaker of three languages, art collector and wine connoisseuse, Allegra Berman, head of frequent borrower coverage at UBS Warburg, has attributes more suited to a career as an Ian Fleming secret agent than a banker. At the same time as honing these skills, though, she has reached the peak in her field of banking at the tender age of 31.
An early aspiration to become an actress was quickly quashed by her film producer father and Berman entered banking via the Oxford University milk round, joining Credit Suisse First Boston. There she worked under John Walsh and Simon Meadows, first in M&A based in Paris, then in New York. She joined the firm's debt capital markets division in 1994 where she remained for 3-1/2 years, covering supranationals and Canadian borrowers.
A call from Rob Morris and Abigail Hofman in 1997 took Berman to Barclays Capital, where she became Hofman's second in command on the frequent borrower desk.
In 2001, she joined UBS Warburg as head of frequent borrower coverage and this year was appointed managing director.
She has made great strides at the Swiss firm, turning around the frequent borrower business and building up relationships with clients.
Berman is one of the few women in the market to occupy such a high powered position and one of the few marketeers who still thoroughly enjoy their jobs, an attribute that she believes is essential.
Her reputation with borrowers, some of which she has dealt with since 1994, is that if she says she will do something, it will be done. They are confident that she will give their deals 100% focus and her best efforts to achieve exemplary distribution and execution.
Berman's affinity with wine started at Magdalen College - having rooms above those of the wine butler resulted in her sampling many fine wines and encouraged her to start a wine collection, some of which is still stored at Magdalen and some with a wine dealer in Suffolk.
Her interest in art began during school and college holidays working for Christie's contemporary art department. Andy Warhol and Jean Cocteau drawings feature large in her art collection and one of her Cocteau drawings is currently on show at an art exhibition in Paris. Her intense interest in art was recently confirmed by her becoming a life patron of the National Portrait Gallery.