Morning Coffee: JPMorgan says it wants robots, not humans. How banking attracts hedonists
Robots have many advantages over humans when it comes to trading. They are faster, less fallible, and are increasingly human beings' preferred method of executing trades. This is why JPMorgan won't be hiring a lot of new people to boost its third tier cash equities business after all: it will be investing in robots.
Tim Throsby, global head of equities at JPMorgan delivered the no-hiring message during a Bloomberg interview in which he avowed JPM's intention to reach the top three in cash equities trading (it's currently ranked 6th, or so) soon. "Third or fourth place would be a realistic medium-term ambition, with second or third in the long term,” Throsby told Bloomberg, adding that he plans to 'accomplish the task' without recruiting. Developing JPMorgan's electronic trading platform will instead be the priority.
JPMorgan's head of EMEA equity research Paul Huxford has just gone on extended leave, but it seems Throsby won't be too concerned by this. Equity researchers are less important than electronic execution. It's not just about building the electronic platform, however. Throsby said JPM also wants to develop its prime brokerage offering in order to win more hedge fund clients to its cash business.
Separately. the Wolf of Wall Street film seems to have made a lasting impression on a generation of aspiring young bankers. In the movie itself, applications to work at Stratton Oakmont go through the roof when chief executive Jordan Belfort is vilified for outrageous but lucrative behaviour by Forbes magazine. Something similar seems to have happened in real life. Marketwatch reports that the hedonistic onscreen antics of Belfort & Co. prompted thousands of new people to apply for stockbroking jobs when the Wolf of Wall Street came out- applications for broking roles rose by around 80% in the U.S. and by 44% in the UK around the movie's release date. Unfortunately, aspiring recruits will find that robots are now more attractive employees than hedonistic human beings.
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