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The banking MD & DJ who says his clients love house music

Now that Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon is no longer putting himself about as DJ D Sol, the happy house maestro, someone else needs to get the banking party started. There is a person, but he's based in London and his music isn't quite as euphoric as Solomon's. 

"I play vocal house from labels like Defected Records," says Ali Miraj, a managing director and infrastructure sponsor coverage lead at ING in London. "Sometimes I also play Fred Again and Skrillex."

While Solomon's now defunct DJ career took him from the Hamptons to Miami and the Bahamas, Miraj's DJ outings have spanned Shoreditch, Ibiza, New York and Zurich. Now aged 48, fashionably bald and fashionably bespectacled, he's been DJing for 23 years. "It's not a fad," he says. "It's in the DNA. I love house music."

Before the pandemic confined clubbers to listening to Mark Rebillet in the bedrooms, Miraj ran a club night for secret DJs in the City of London. It endured for six years at the Horse and Groom pub in Shoreditch and was something of a sensation. "All my DJs were lawyers, M&A bankers and traders, and they were all complete house music aficiandos," he says. "There are scores of people in the City who are really passionate about it."

In much the same way that Sam Bankman Fried says he was differentiated by his big hair, Miraj says he's been differentiated by his big beats. "Everyone knows that I'm a DJ and it's differentiated me in the market, including with clients," he says. "Everyone loves music, and a lot of clients have turned out to be DJs too. It creates a whole new connection."

Miraj's enthusiasm suggests David Solomon's decision to hang up his headphones may have been ill-advised: in a market where clients are assailed by bankers pitching deals, a softer sell involving a club night may have worked well. Then again, this may be what Solomon is attempting in the frequent parties at his Soho loft. 

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Miraj says that his side-gig as a DJ has made him a better banker. Unlike some DJs, he doesn't arrive with a preordained set, but adapts his playlist to the room. "It’s a communal experience – you are feeding off them, and they are feeding off you," he says. After years of doing this, Miraj says he's become more attuned in client interactions too. "If the client isn't responding, you need to change the record. There's no point in trying to push a deal or mandate down a client's throat when they're not interested." 

Being a good DJ is about "observational skills" and building rapport, Miraj explains. "Those skills are really heightened when you're a DJ." When he ran his club night, Miraj says the banking DJs who struggled were the ones who were technically proficient but who were so busy looking at their decks that they missed the signals on the dance floor. 

From this perspective, banks might want to include DJ-ing in their training programmes for coverage bankers. Miraj himself doesn't play professionally now as he's too busy with work and appearances on things like Sky News.  He did, however, recently play to ING clients and colleagues at the EBRD building in Canary Wharf. "I am happy to admit that I did drop the Kungs Remix of “Antihero” by Taylor Swift," he confesses. "Once in a lifetime thing:)"

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Do
    DoubtingThomas
    13 October 2023

    There seems to be some fascination with senior bankers having outside pursuits such as DJ'ing. Possibly, the interest is more junior bankers who don't have much time for extracurricular activities of that sort, or otherwise would choose to do something more 'fitting' their status (art, golf, etc). Where are the senior bankers who do stand-up comedy or burlesque shows? Can we have some articles on them too?

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