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Morning Coffee: How to perform terribly at Goldman Sachs and not be fired. You need to know about qubits

Isabelle Ealet probably wishes she never said it now. When asked by French magazine L’Expansion why she liked working for Goldman Sachs several years ago, Ealet said something about Goldman being a meritocracy. “What I appreciate most is the culture of results,” she told her interviewer. “At Goldman Sachs, you are judged on your performance."

This may be so. But the commodities division, which Ealet ran until 2012 and which now falls under her purview as global co-head of securities, has been blighted by terrible performance for many quarters now, and yet Ealet herself has seemingly been spared the kind of harsh judgment you might expect from a firm which has made a habit of clearing out its under-performers.

Others don’t appear to have been so lucky. In September it was revealed that Greg Agran, the former global co-head of commodities at Goldman will be retiring next month. Various traders have left, voluntarily or not, but Ealet’s crown seems to remain untouched.

This might be because she’s been several steps removed from the commodity unit’s travails (which were allegedly down to a bad energy bet and then problems with "inventory"). It might also be because when she did run the commodity business directly between 2007 and 2012, it regularly earned revenues in excess of $3bn, and if anyone can turn things around it’s thought to be her. In this sense, Ealet is a lesson in Goldman survival.

Either way, following Ealet’s review of the commodity unit’s entire existence earlier this year, Goldman now seems to be doubling down. During his presentation in September, Goldman COO Harvey Schwartz cited commodities hedging as an opportunity for revenue growth. Accordingly, Bloomberg now suggests that Goldman has embarked upon a commodities hiring spree. It’s recruited a partner-level trader from Morgan Stanley to lead its American natural gas and power trading unit, plus a handful of other senior level traders from elsewhere.

For the moment, therefore, Ealet is being given free rein despite the poor performance of a key business in her stable. Business Insider says she’s “working closely” with Goldman’s new commodities co-heads, appointed in September. Ealet needs to hope things start improving. Otherwise that comment to L’Expansion might come back to bite.

Separately, you need to learn about quantum computing. The Financial Times says hedge funds like Renaissance Technologies, DE Shaw and Two Sigma are all looking into the use of computers which use "qubits" instead of ones and zeroes and that a new breed of "quantum quant" may be coming along next.


Deutsche Bank is looking for a Frankfurt office to house up to 1,600 people. (Bloomberg) 

Deutsche Bank found the addresses of German customers stored in London don’t always say which German state the customer is in – a detail required in the German IT system. (Handelsblatt) 

The Bank of England say the City of London could lose 10,000 jobs on the very first day after Brexit. (Guardian)

Softbank, the world’s largest tech fund, based in London, is hiring operational professionals. They include UBS veteran Neil Hadley, who joined as chief of staff, Catherine Lenson (also from UBS) as head of HR, and three directors from PwC. (Financial News) 

Moelis & Co just hired Marco Acaia, a former banker from J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley. (Financial News) 

Troels Oerting, Barclays’ chief information security officer, has taken a leave of absence after CEO Jes Staley was tricked by an email prankster. (Financial News) 

U.S. banks are about to find it much harder to recruit Indians into tech roles. (Bloomberg) 

Universities losing their best AI scientists to tech firms not banks. (Guardian) 

Unattractive people are more likely to be chosen for undesirable jobs. (Quartz)

Ex-Merrill Lynch banker brings book about acorns to school children. (Richmond and Twickenham Times) 

It is mathematically impossible to live forever. (Inverse) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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