A quick check-in on the morale of finance professionals
People have complained about working in finance since the beginning of time. It’s a rite of passage. So take the latest employee satisfaction survey with a grain of salt, though it is admittedly a bit eye-popping.
Exactly half of bankers, brokers and asset managers – mostly senior-level people – are unhappy with their job, their firm, their pay and their prospects. All four. That’s according to research from search firm Options Group, which surveyed 100 financial professionals.
What’s more, the other half isn’t exactly jumping for joy. Just one out of every five respondents said they were pleased on all four fronts, with the rest gripping about something or other. The complaints ran the gamut, from pay to internal politics to new regulations and monetary policies.
But the main sticking point, as always, was compensation. Mike Karp, chief executive of Options Group, told the Financial Times that bankers are still unable to come to terms with the “new paradigm” in pay. “In a lot of cases keeping your job is your bonus,” said one trader.
Maybe Options Group interviewed a bunch of traders because pay was actually up last year for most investment bankers and asset managers, though banks are admittedly trimming more senior staffers who happened to make up much of the survey.
In related news concerning misery at work, video footage has emerged of a young trader’s initiation. The 23-year-old Marex Spectron rookie was made to eat eight quarter-pound burgers as his older colleagues gambled on whether he could complete the task. They laughed raucously as he became physically ill in a nearby wastebasket. Now that gentleman has reason to hate his job. A spokesperson for Marex Spectron said they are aware of the incident and the individuals involved “have been spoken to and the matter has been addressed internally.”
Goldman Sachs has just unveiled its 2014 annual report. There’s pertinent information about what it takes to get a job there.
Deutsche Bank is becoming Goldman Sachs, goes the narrative. It’s dumping its retail arm (Postbank), and staying with its investment bank and fixed income business. Pretty soon, Deutsche and Goldman will be indistinguishable. Or will they?
Known as the safest of the big banks, Wells Fargo has seen its shares grow nearly 70% over the last five years. But Wells has quietly been expanding its investment banking division, growing the unit by 77% since 2010, and dipping its toe deeper into trading activities. It’s no longer just your traditional lender.
Just how slow have U.S. credit markets been? Some traders are now working three-day weeks, taking off Monday and Friday.
Goldman is an ideal spot for many technologists and software engineers, but there is one problem: its proprietary programming language isn’t used at other banks. So conceivably you can build up a great skillset that isn’t all that useful elsewhere. Great retention tool though for Goldman.
Citigroup’s Asian chief Stephen Bird is moving to New York to run the firm’s consumer bank. He’ll replace Manuel Medina-Mora, who is retiring. It’s a big job as Citi is completely transforming its consumer business as it pulls out of less profitable locales.
As we’ve discussed, big banks are increasingly allocating more assets to their wealth management divisions, which provide strong revenue with little risk. The problem, it seems, is that big banks aren’t near as good at managing money as specialized money managers. Mutual funds run by the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo underperform their basic benchmarks.
Buzz Around the Office
A construction crane operating near the Dallas Museum of Art dangerously toppled over this month but it worked out just fine. Crowds began surrounding the crane assuming it was a new piece of modern art.
Quote of the Day: “Just because you're offended, doesn't mean you're right.” – Ricky Gervais