As Paul Revere prepared to make his historic ride to warn the American revolutionaries that the British were coming, two lanterns in the window of Boston's North Church steeple were the signal to alert him that the British troops were coming by water and one lantern was the signal that they were coming by land. Two lanterns appeared and he was off on a gallop. But if Revere were looking at North Church steeple today, he might see three lanterns in the window. The British are coming by land and sea. And they are staying to buy and sell.

The United States is the biggest debt and equity market in the world today, says Keith R. Harris. "And, if I may take some license with a well-known comment by that famed U.S. banker, Mr. Willie Sutton, you go where the money is.Mr. Harris is the epitome of a new breed of Big Bang British bankers who are bursting into the arena of global banking business. With brains and bravado and spurred on by the fast-approaching Oct. 27 Big Bang deregulation of the British securities markets, these bankers are sopping up investment, securities and financing business here and elsewhere in the world. Only 33, Mr. Harris is the managing director of Morgan Grenfell Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of the 148 year-old British merchant bank Morgan Grenfell & Co. Ltd.

I have a hunch. What the Japanese have done to U.S. manufacturing industries, the British may well do in the U.S. financial industries. The British are certainly primed for it.

After October, British bankers will be free to operate as commercial and investment banks, stock brokerage houses and stockjobbers, which is somewhat equivalent to those who make a market in the United States. In other words, the British financial market will be wide open. In anticipation of this, Morgan Grenfell Group PLC, the London-based parent company, recently has purchased a stock brokerage house, Pember & Boyle, and a stockjobber, Pinchin Denny, and added some 400 new employees to handle this business. And in September last year, it sent the energetic Mr. Harris to New York to head up their U.S. operations.

They could not have picked a better person, it would appear.

Mr. Harris received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Surrey at the age of 24. One assumes he would have gotten it even faster if the British educational system wasn't so stodgy. He knew what business he was going into even then. His doctoral thesis dealt with the role of financial intermediaries in mergers. Morgan Grenfell has executed twice as many mergers and acquisitions for its clients in recent years than its nearest U.K. competitor. Mr. Harris joined Morgan Grenfell in 1980 as an assistant director in its International Corporate Capital Market Division. By 1984, he became the youngest director in the history of the company.

His job in the United States is to build Morgan Grenfell into a full- service U.S. investment banker. In other words, if you've got money, want money, need money or want to take away someone else's money, Morgan Grenfell will be more than happy to accommodate you. That's what you call full service. Willie Sutton was no fool.

Mr. Harris explains the U.S. operations of Morgan Grenfell in more dignified terms. "We provide corporate finance service, asset-based financing and arbitrage. In addition, we are expanding our operations in international equity sales, investment management and capital markets. Nicely said, but his actions were a bit more blunt. Within six months of heading up the U.S. office, he invited (to use his language) Gregory T.K. Hsu, the head of Chemical Bank's capital markets, and five other member's of Chemical Bank's capital markets unit to establish a capital markets operation at Morgan Grenfell.

Good-looking and wholesome in a surprisely American way, Mr. Harris is quite deferential when he speaks about U.S. financial institutions. What we British are doing is learning to play the game by American rules, he said. The assimilation and consolidation of financial institutions in the United States and Europe have put a lot of money into a few hands. The leverage can be startling. The need for quick investment decisions and immediate responses to

financial opportunities demands that money managers throughout the world learn to operate quickly and decisively like Americans.

The problem with that for the Americans, from a competitive point of view, is that the British are awfully good at international money management. What gave the Americans an advantage, or at least a good shot at competing with the British, was the latter's almost diffident approach to business. For the British, business was something one attempted to work into a hectic social life. A necessary evil to be done before and after lunch. This new breed of British banker is taking business seriously.

I've always admired the money-motivation of Americans, says Mr. Harris. "I can relate to a money-oriented attitude. I'm like that, too. Too bad for the Americans.

The assimilation and consolidation of Western financial institutions also demanded that institutions like Morgan Grenfell obtain more capital to compete with publicly held U.K. competitors and the foreign securities giants from the United States that are invading London's financial markets. In June, the parent corporation placed 32 million equity shares in the hands of the public and obtained $230 million. In July, it obtained another $200 million through a perpetual floating rate offering. The Japanese purchased a large portion of that offering. With those offerings, the bank has almost $1 billion in net assets to compete against the likes of Solomon Bros. and Goldman Sachs & Co.

Aside from making money, Mr. Harris doesn't have many hobbies. "My wife Judy is into riding, he says, so in the interest of family harmony I've taken it up a bit, too.

The good news is that he rides English saddle. Any American riding Western saddle can easily shove an Englishman off his English saddle with little problem. That might indicate that Mr. Harris retains other British idiosyncrasies that make him vulnerable in business as well.

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