Morning Coffee: Credit Suisse’s "hasty and vague effort" against departing bankers. Goldman vice chairman's career advice
In May, five heavy-hitting investment bankers accepted offers to leave Credit Suisse’s San Francisco-based technology team for a rival firm, Jefferies. Now the circumstances of their departure are unravelling.
A few days after the bankers officially resigned, Credit Suisse asked a judge for permission to do a forensic search of their computers and smartphones and an injunction to block them from starting work at Jefferies, accusing its former employees of stealing proprietary documents and trying to poach former colleagues before their period of gardening leave was up.
The investment bankers denied this in affidavits, but the judge granted key provisions of the injunction, ordering a litigation hold and sending the conflict to arbitration. However, they were allowed to continue working at Jefferies.
What Business Insider calls Credit Suisse’s “hasty and vague effort” to prevent harm to its technology business highlights the pressure it’s under to stem the tide of key departures from its investment banking division, with other senior dealmakers also having left this year.
It also raises key questions about what is proprietary to an employer and what is considered a trade secret. A banker's client list? Compensation information? Old pitchbooks for already-completed initial public offerings?
What’s the bigger picture for Credit Suisse? With CEO Tidjane Thiam’s emphasis on wealth management above all other businesses, not to mention his assertion that investment bankers’ compensation should fluctuate with the market, it’s no secret that he’s rubbed many people in the IBD the wrong way. It’s one thing to trim the fat of a bloated or unprofitable division, but if essential investment banking personnel continue jumping ship in significant numbers, it will complicate Thiam’s turnaround efforts.
Separately, on the heels of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein telling this year’s intern class to chill and to not be too goal-oriented or impatient of success, Michael Sherwood, the bank’s vice chairman and co-chief executive of Goldman Sachs International, offered his career advice to junior bankers.
Sherwood, who joined Goldman as a 20-year-old credit analyst, said: “My advice to people coming up the ranks: It takes all kinds of people to make successful careers at the firm. Be yourself, be authentic, don’t try to conform. Be motivated, have a thirst for information and have an intellectual curiosity.
“I would also say that people who have defined career trajectories have often been disappointed – don’t have a specific timetable around your career.
“Many things have changed [at Goldman]: We have expanded into multiple locations and we went public, to name just two. But our commitment to excellence, our ability to attract the highest calibre of people, our ambition to be the best that we can be – those attributes have remained consistent over my career at the firm. I must say the quality of the people we are able to attract is very humbling; in fact I often wonder how I ever got a job here!”
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