Happiness and despair at Goldman, J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo
Wednesday was a big news day for Wall Street. Pay is being cut here, people are getting raises there and a big-name CEO accuses the government of assault and battery, kind of.
First, J.P. Morgan got year-end reporting season started with a relatively depressing fourth quarter where profit slipped 6.6% on the back of higher-than-expected legal fees. As anticipated, fixed income revenues were down, but so was profit within the bank’s asset management and commercial banking units – something that surprised analysts.
As a result, J.P. Morgan cut compensation within its investment bank by 3.6%, with the average corporate and investment banker taking home $204,365 apiece for 2014, down from around $208,000 a year ago.
On a call discussing the quarter, Chief Executive Jamie Dimon expressed frustration with regulators, claiming banks are “under assault” from the government. He was speaking specifically to the sheer number of regulators banks must contend with today, where multiple agencies attack firms for one mishap all at the same time, resulting in greater complexity and, of course, greater fines. For more specifics on how the quarter will affect current and prospective J.P. Morgan employees, check out our extensive coverage here.
Elsewhere, Wells Fargo missed profit expectations for the fourth quarter but for a less depressing reason: it’s paying its employees more. Costs tied to commissions and bonuses rose 10% in 2014 as Wells Fargo has done more investing in today’s low interest environment, which has squeezed its lending margins. The San Francisco bank has been diversifying itself and hiring more expensive people.
Finally, there is Goldman Sachs, which doesn’t report until Friday but made headlines nonetheless. Goldman had to writedown the value of an $835 million loan it made last year to troubled Portuguese Banco Espirito Santo, which collapsed soon after. As many as 50 Goldman employees could have their bonuses trimmed as a result of the loss, according to Reuters. The conference call to discuss the writedown and the potential bonus reductions took place on Christmas Eve. Ouch.
We’ve dissecting the resume of a soon-to-be-graduating finance student who hopes to secure a job in investment banking come this summer. The good, the bad and the ugly.
The only real good part of the J.P. Morgan call was that the bank offered no plans to make any radical moves, like what Deutsche Bank is expected to do. Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake said there’s no reason to undertake “major surgery” following the quarter.
Here’s some rather granular, play-by-play advice on how to properly wine and dine a client at an outing. The tips come from a man who has taken Wall Street clients out on the town approximately 2,340 times.
FBI agents raided the offices of a Florida medical supply company on Wednesday. That normally wouldn’t count as industry news other than the fact that the character portrayed by actor Jonah Hill in "The Wolf of Wall Street” is their VP. Agents were seen removing boxes of files.
If you thought the damage from foreign exchange was complete, think again. J.P. Morgan and Citigroup, each of which have already settled some civil suits, reportedly fired or suspended a fresh round of employees recently as the investigation continues to turn up new material. Additional firings are likely at Citi.
Goldman Sachs directors and VPs have a new man to send muffin baskets. Pablo Salame, the global-co head of Goldman’s securities division, has been named the new chair of the firm's Partnership Committee, taking over for Vice Chairman Michael Sherwood. If you want to become a partner, you go through him.
The head of government bond trading at Jefferies has left the bank. James Golden leaves Jefferies during a chaotic period for the bank highlighted by an embarrassing divorce scandal and a lousy fourth quarter.
Buzz Around the Office
Oh, Blackberry. This is so you. The struggling Canadian smartphone maker’s official Twitter handle has been sending out tweets at CES, the nation’s largest tech event, from an iPhone. The intern running the account must not have noticed the “via Twitter for iPhone” stamped at the bottom of every tweet.
Quote of the Day: "In the old days…you dealt with one regulator when you had an issue, maybe two. Now it’s five or six. It makes it very difficult and very complicated. You all should ask the question about how American that is. And how fair that is. And how complex that is for companies." – J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon