In the years since Brown Brothers and Brown Shipley had severed ties in 1918, the Partners of BBH had developed a deep-seated resistance to opening overseas offices. Frank Hoch helped to change that, becoming a forceful advocate for the firm’s physical presence in European and Asian markets.
He was uniquely suited to this role. Born in White Plains, New York, to Swiss parents, he spent most of his childhood in the United States before his family returned to Switzerland. There, Hoch earned a degree in law at the University of Zurich in 1947. No sooner had he graduated than he boarded a ship bound for New York, certain his future was in the United States.
Hoch ended up later that year at BBH, where he developed an expertise in brokering U.S. securities, especially bonds, to foreign investors and investment managers who were interested in building tax-free portfolios. Hoch, who was admitted as a partner in 1960, went on to become head of BBH’s foreign investment department, building close ties with bankers across Europe—especially in Switzerland, which alone accounted for more than half of BBH’s total foreign business in the postwar era.
Hoch knew that BBH, which traded on the attentive client service that only a small bank could provide, would do even better with people on the ground. So he lobbied his partners to open a Zurich office. “I’ll double our Swiss volume in a year,” he promised. When he got the green light, he was as good as his word: The Zurich office thrived on a combination of brokerage and custody of U.S. securities for foreign investors.
After Zurich it was on to London, where Hoch helped BBH open an office in 1974, and then, with Alex Ercklentz, to Beirut, where the firm’s effort to establish a Middle East office was undone by political unrest. Hoch took on France too, opening a Paris office in 1979 to develop business in the rest of Western Europe.
Then, in 1981, Hoch began advocating for an office in Asia. Three years later, with the help of Parks Shipley, John Nielsen, and eventually Kyosuke (Keith) Hashimoto, BBH opened its Tokyo office, which would go on to become one of the firm’s most successful non-U.S. offices.
It was a fitting legacy for Hoch, one of the most international of the firm’s many international bankers.
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