A Banker's Journey: How Edmond J. Safra Built a Global Financial Empire

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How Edmond J. Safra Built a Global Financial Empire

With exclusive access to Safra’s personal archives, financial journalist and historian Daniel Gross tracks the banker’s remarkable journey from Beirut to Milan, São Paulo, Geneva, and New York—to the pinnacle of global finance.

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Who was Edmond J. Safra?

The greatest banker of his generation,

in the estimation of a former World Bank President. The founder of four massive financial institutions on three continents, and a proud child of Beirut’s Jewish quarter. An innovative pioneer of financial globalization, and a faithful heir to a tradition of old-world banking. The leading champion and protector of the Sephardic diaspora.

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In A Banker’s Journey, financial journalist and historian Daniel Gross, who, like Safra, traces his heritage to Aleppo, Syria, reconstructs the public life of an intensely private man. With exclusive access to Safra’s personal archives, Gross tracks the banker’s remarkable journey from Beirut to Milan, São Paulo, Geneva, and New York—to the pinnacle of global finance.

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Edmond Safra was fifteen in 1947, when his father sent him to establish a presence in Milan, Italy. Fluent in six languages, and with an eye for value, managing risk, and personal potential, Safra was in perpetual motion until his tragic death in 1999. The modern, global financial empire he built was based on timeless principles: a banker must protect his depositors and avoid excessive leverage and risk. In an age of busts and bailouts, Safra posted remarkable returns while rarely suffering a credit loss.

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From a young age, Safra assumed the mantle of leadership in the Syrian-Lebanese Jewish community, providing personal aid, supporting the communities that formed in exile, and championing Sephardic religious and educational efforts in Israel and around the world.

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A Banker's Journey: How Edmond J. Safra Built a Global Financial Empire

Edmond J. Safra’s life of achievement in the twentieth century offers enduring lessons for those seeking to make their way in the twenty-first century. He inspired generations to make the world a better place.

Endorsements

Michael R. Bloomberg

founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and Mayor of New York City, 2002-2013

“Edmond Safra’s extraordinary life is one of the most fascinating stories in modern finance, but the story runs much deeper than his legendary success. A Banker’s Journey captures the fullness of a man whose mind for business and appetite for adventure was matched only by his heart for giving and sense of responsibility to others. His impact continues to be felt, and now the inspiring lessons from his life will reach an even wider audience.”

Sandy Weill

Former Chairman and CEO of Citigroup

“Edmond Safra was a remarkable leader, builder, dreamer, philanthropist, and financial services executive. I was honored to know him and work closely with him for two decades. From the moment I picked up Daniel Gross’s book, I literally, and I say literally, could not put it down. It was a fantastic journey through an incredible life... Read More

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Sandy Weill

Former Chairman and CEO of Citigroup

“Edmond Safra was a remarkable leader, builder, dreamer, philanthropist, and financial services executive. I was honored to know him and work closely with him for two decades. From the moment I picked up Daniel Gross’s book, I literally, and I say literally, could not put it down. It was a fantastic journey through an incredible life. Edmond always put his company, employees, and depositors first. He cared deeply about this ‘extended family,’ and he always had their backs. Edmond was also very philanthropic, as he supported a number of religious organizations. For any aspiring business or community leader, this book is a must read. Edmond was one of the most talented leaders I have ever been around, and our world is a much better place because of him.”

Michael J. Fox

“Most readers will know Edmond J. Safra as a towering banker who helped define the modern economic era. Daniel Gross’s vibrant account will make them aware of Safra’s open-handed humanitarian instinct that stood in equal measure to his financial genius—an instinct that continues ‘repairing the world’ to this day. His legacy of a deep and boundless commitment to family, faith and generosity holds timeless lessons for us all, no matter… Read More

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Michael J. Fox

“Most readers will know Edmond J. Safra as a towering banker who helped define the modern economic era. Daniel Gross’s vibrant account will make them aware of Safra’s open-handed humanitarian instinct that stood in equal measure to his financial genius—an instinct that continues ‘repairing the world’ to this day. His legacy of a deep and boundless commitment to family, faith and generosity holds timeless lessons for us all, no matter what journey we find ourselves on. Absorbing, highly-recommended reading.”

Bryan Burrough

co-author of Barbarians at the Gate and author of Vendetta: American Express and the Smearing of Edmond Safra

“Edmond J. Safra’s remarkable story comes alive through the extensive research of Daniel Gross. Safra’s banking success made him a public figure, but his generosity, dignity, and integrity are what A Banker’s Journey masterfully showcases as the qualities by which he will be remembered.”

About the Author

Daniel Gross is one of the most widely-read writers on finance, economics, and business history. Over the past three decades, he has reported from more than 30 countries, covering everything from the dotcom boom and the rise of China to the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Gross has worked as a reporter at The New Republic and Bloomberg News, wrote the “Economic View” column in The New York Times, and served as Slate’s “Moneybox” columnist. At Newsweek, where he was a columnist and correspondent, he authored seven cover stories. A frequent guest on television and radio, he has contributed to more than 60 publications, including New York, Fortune, and the Washington Post.

Gross is a bestselling author of eight books, including Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All TimeGenerations of CorningDumb Money: How America’s Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation; and Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Decline and the Rise of a New Economy.

Gross was educated at Cornell University and holds an AM in American history from Harvard University. His great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Aleppo and Damascus.

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