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Morning Coffee: Banks' miserable attempts to compete with Google for staff. Punishing finance interviews

On the roof at Google

Investment banks and Google want the same staff. They're both after the quantitative people who can write code to analyze reams of data and figure out ways of using that to make money. Google is winning.

The technology firm's superior appeal is encapsulated by its plan for a new London premises. Bloomberg reports that Google has submitted a new set of plans for its London headquarters at King's Cross. The architect-designed building, which will be slightly higher than the Shard Tower, will have: a running track or "trim trail" on the roof (next to the wildflower roof garden), a three lane swimming pool, massage rooms, and a games area for basketball, soccer or badminton.

Banks' offices look mean by comparison. At both J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, a key selling point of the offices housing technologists is the facility to....write on anything. J.P. Morgan offers this at 5 Manhattan West, its growing hipster technologist paradise in New York City. Goldman Sachs offers it in its office housing technologists working on its Marcus technology product in Dallas. In both cases, writing on walls (and furniture in the case of J.P. Morgan) is touted as a really great and special thing. “You can write on almost every surface that you see,” Gavin Michael, head of digital at JPMorgan Chase, effused last year, “- It’s about really being to encourage that collaboration.”

Maybe banks know something we don't? Maybe top technologists prioritize drawing on walls and furniture above all else? If so, they'll flock to Goldman and JPM. If not, there's always the wildflower garden and pool at Google.

Separately, beware the interviews with the semi-sadistic finance fitness enthusiasts. These are an actual thing and the Wall Street Journal has taken the time to document some of them. There's John Osbon , a former managing director at Credit Suisse turned fund manager in Boston, who says he used to play basketball games with aspiring hires wherein he would yank their shirts or tread on their feet: "“They were all fair fouls, and I didn’t hurt anyone. You have to take someone down to size."

There's also Strauss Zelnick, the 55 year-old founder of private equity firm Zelnick Media, who likes to take new hires to boxing gyms and for cardiovascular workouts. One 24 year-old says he nearly threw up. "Sometimes you dread it, but I've never actually canceled..."


One popular item of youthful office furniture is the Swing Table by Duffy of London. (BBC) 

Shares at Goldman Sachs fell another 3.3% yesterday. They're now down 16.5% on March. (Financial Times) 

ING is moving 43 trading jobs from London to Amsterdam. (Bloomberg) 

Deutsche Bank wants 50 new wealth managers in Asia. (Bloomberg) 

“If you really want to understand what’s behind the success of London, it’s that the city is a powerful magnet for international talent. It’s all based on people.” (Bloomberg) 

"Financial hardship at the Bank of Engand". (Bloomberg) 

Get a blood transfusion from a teen. (CNBC) 

"There aren’t many that go from child poverty into Oxford... those that do might be disproportionately likely to end up in middling careers." (Stumbling and Mumbling) 

The unhappiness of software developers. (Cornell University)

87% of Goldman Sachs employees began job with plans to take down company from inside. (The Onion)

Today's decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world. #ParisAgreement

— Lloyd Blankfein (@lloydblankfein) June 1, 2017


Photo credit: Wild flower garden by Kotomi_ is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Re
    2 June 2017

    . As a JP Morgan technologist in an office where you can write on walls - I'm telling you that no one cares and no one does. It does not encourage collaboration. We still have a lack of meeting rooms and things like that. What's good is having dedicated offices for technologists. Much prefer it to the Canary Wharf skyscraper.

  • Se
    2 June 2017

    It won't be higher than the Shard, it will be longer than the Shard is high, but low-rise.

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