Lessons learnt from the Warburg letter of 1926: The importance of humanity within business

Relationships-built businesses are not a luxury but a necessity. The importance of social awareness in the way we conduct ourselves within our operations cannot be discounted. The ‘business of relationships’, that many have placed on the sidelines, can never truly be replaced in my opinion. And its importance grows as we drift further away from human interaction partly due to technology and the operating model that Covid has so kindly forced upon us. Looking someone in the face, shaking their hand, ‘feeling’ their ambitions and passions, it is a founding function of humanity. Hard to explain, yet natural to us all, somehow.

I enclose a letter from Siegmund Warburg to Lionel and Anthony de Rothschild in 1926, when Warburg would have been in his early twenties, which details just how early in his career he was influenced to combine business and humanity and how his narrative, may have been formed. Warburg went on to become an influential proponent in humanity, relationships and the power human emotions and gut feeling have within the business sphere.

Both an interesting piece of history but also a reminder for us to make sure the narrative around the human side of banking and business is maintained. The ‘internship’ program at Rothschilds is just one of many such like programs which marry the art of business with humanity.


London 1st November 1926

 Dear Mr Lionel de Rothschild, dear Mr Anthony de Rothschild,

 At the moment of leaving London I wish to tell you how grateful I am to you for the time I was allowed to spend at New Court which I consider a great honour. You provided me with the opportunities to learn. I learnt quite a lot of details of business-machinery. But I learnt something also which will be far more important to me in my future life. This is the fine tradition of New Court which combines business with humanity, without neglecting either.

 To learn such a combination is particularly valuable to somebody from the continent where so often humanity is killed by business. When one has stayed some time at a certain place and felt more at home there, a feeling of attachment accompanies one after having left such a place.

That will be very strongly the case with me towards New Court. I shall always think with great pleasure of the months I spent here and I will be very glad indeed whenever I shall be able to bring about any business or other reasons for visiting New Court again.

With many thanks for very much kindness allow me to say “Auf Wiedersehen”. With best wishes and kind regards

I am

Yours sincerely

Siegmund Warburg




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