Otto Nägeli — An Appreciation
Even when it’s inevitable, the act of paying tribute is no easier. We have endured a somewhat torrid quarter in the parish with the deaths of Brian Taylor, Chris Prior-Willeard and now, alas, Otto Naegeli.
Otto retired from the parish last June when he was already fighting cancer. Then a few months back he gently ‘fully retired’ from the parish, signing off with some cheery bon mots in a fond farewell.
Otto may not have been the most publicised practitioner but he was a pivotal player in the exchange parish for several decades.
Otto was perhaps best known for his stewardship of SOFFEX the Swiss futures and options exchange which he negotiated into the merger with the DTB, creating EUREX, the continental powerhouse exchange where he served as deputy CEO from 1998–2001.
Otto also ran the Swiss Private bank Rüd Blass from 2001–2003 and maintained his cheery disposition at all times, inclusive of all views and eager to see as many exchanges involved in helping move the bourse business forward.
As a non-exec, Otto’s many positions included Chairman of the CME Europe Clearing House and as a non-executive board member of the Bucharest Stock Exchange from 2016 to 2020.
A former Chairman of the SFOA (2011–2014), Otto ranked 442 in the inaugural Exchange Invest 1000.
This brief but illustrious career precis only skims the surface of what I would term the Otto phenomenon. He was a likeable, sensible, sagely figure whose wisdom was sought around the world by exchanges and CCPs. He was permanently good company and always illuminating, a sharp mind whose assessments were invariably astute. His technology orientation for the parish stretched back to the 1980s when, from his Swiss Exchange role, he was also involved in helping ASX go electronic.
I spent a lovely afternoon returning from a FESE Convention some years ago in Istanbul. That unique Otto accent pierced the Turkish Airlines lounge with an “Ah, I thought I would find you here!” as I leaned across the splendid Demel cake stand to lift a slice of Sacher torte and a Turkish coffee. Turning around, a beaming Otto beckoned me to join him, already enjoying a cake from Istanbul’s finest French patisserie.
What ensued was one of those magnificent flights where Otto was entertaining and amusing from start to finish, at once self-deprecating and incisive throughout…The discourse continued onto the plane where we were sat together and, like every conversation with Otto, I learnt a great deal that day.
Everyone yesterday, as I wrote this from the AFM Conference (where Otto was a regular attendee) said the same thing: “Otto was a gentleman.” He was much more than even that I might add: his passion for markets and fundamental human decency marked him out as a very special parishioner.
A third titan of the exchange world has passed away in a matter of weeks and even though I knew it was coming, it really doesn’t make it easier. Thank you Otto, farewell my friend.