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Morning Coffee: Musical chairs for bored millennials in investment banking. It’s dog-eat-dog when lay-offs hit

Investment banks want to change their reputation for forcing juniors to work long hours on tedious tasks

Investment banks are acknowledging that if they hire an uber-qualified graduate who’s used to juggling studies with internships, investment clubs and elite sporting activity, sitting them at a desk in front of a financial model for 18 hours a day might not be the best use of their time.

The financial sector is competing with other industries for millennials, and millennials – as you know – are flighty. HSBC is the latest investment bank to roll out a new scheme to engage its younger workforce.

Analysts, associates and VPs in London, New York, Paris and Hong Kong will be offered the chance to rotate across divisions and desks every six months, according to Financial News. This is not simply a rotational graduate scheme, but an attempt to stem an exodus of millennial talent.

The aim, says Robin Phillips, co-head of global banking at HSBC is to create “well-rounded, universal bankers”. One quarter you could be working on an M&A deal, the next sourcing a sovereign debt issuance.

“Competition for junior talent is fierce,” he said.

This might be a step up from giving juniors free Saturdays or Friday nights off, but it also just seems a bit like a souped up analyst pool. In London, for example, those covering corporates, the public sector or financial institutions all sit in the same pool, which means they can easily move between desks.

Separately, another anonymous post by a senior investment banker on the University of Chicago Booth School of Business ProMarket blog has highlighted how HR policy in the sector influences behaviour.

On the one hand, the fact that bonuses are still decided, eventually, at an individual manager’s discretion encourages risk taking and individualism. Then there's the liveral use of lay-offs by banks as a way to cut costs, which creates a Darwinistic working environment. Those on the receiving end of cuts are still unceremoniously ushered out of the building without collecting their belongings.

This is, in reality, not a new concept to raise on why financial services workers took excessive risks during the financial crisis. What is new, however, is just how brutal bankers could be.

One redundancy victim was handed a pink slip. “Once his (well-paid) co-workers learned this information, their reaction was to go through his desk belongings to see if they were things they could take, such as a pair of scissors, an office punch, etc,” said the blogger.


Beware of scandal-laden companies. New employers are less likely to hire you and will pay you less if you work for one – especially in banking (Bloomberg)

Adam Sokoloff, who previously headed up the financial institutions group at Jefferies, has switched to the buy-side with a move to Carlyle Group (Bloomberg)

Hedge funds now employ people to attend obscure industry conferences to hunt for new sources of data (WSJ)

José Manuel Barroso hits back at Brussels: “It has been claimed that the mere fact of working with Goldman Sachs raises questions of integrity. Whilst I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, the rules are clear and they must be respected. These claims are baseless and wholly unmerited. They are discriminatory against me and against Goldman Sachs.” (Financial Times)

The buy-side is bereft of women. “Hedge funds just want the best performers in the industry. It isn't driven by diversity hiring." (Business Insider)

Another senior investment banking fintech guru is going it alone (Financial News)

Wells Fargo has scrapped sales targets for retail employees (Financial Times)

Like the M&A market, IPOs are thawing in the City of London (Financial News)

Should you blow the whistle on a former colleague lying on LinkedIn? (Financial Times)

Ken Costa has signed up to a tiny emerging markets boutique (Financial News)

Panic over: all those real estate funds that closed after the Brexit vote have reopened (WSJ)

There’s been an 800% increase in applications from London to Dublin since the Brexit vote (Business Insider)

“You don’t have to be a member of a club, as long as you can go to it. If I comply with the rules selling to a German institution, I comply with the rules, and I’m providing that from London, why do I have to set up an office in Frankfurt? It’s nonsensical.” (Financial News)

Barclays has eliminated 2 employees every hour in 2016 (IFRE)

AUTHORPaul Clarke

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