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Morning Coffee: Something strange happened during Goldman Sachs' internships. Credit Suisse's wild central risk desk

When we asked recent banking interns what they thought of last summer's internships, the results were entirely positive. "The internship exceeded anything I could ever imagine," said one, who'd interned at J.P. Morgan. "- Everyone was so accessible, would take time to answer my questions, even senior people cared about me learning." "The internship definitely exceeded expectations," said another, who spent the summer at a European bank. "- I got to work on live deals which hit headlines so that was incredibly exciting and rewarding."

So far, so fulfilling. In Goldman Sachs' securities division, though, something strange seemingly went down this summer.  - There was an odd game of musical chairs.

Financial News quotes a former intern on Goldman's trading floor, who said that every day the firm's human capital management (HR) people would put out small red plastic chairs for interns to carry about and set down next to traders they were shadowing. However, HR never put out enough of them, meaning some interns didn't get a crucial chair. To add insult to injury, the chair-less interns had nowhere to sit because they weren't allocated desks of their own. They were presumably therefore relegated to the 'swamp' - the Goldman name for the area where interns congregate on the trading floor.

Goldman didn't comment on the chair saga, which allegedly had more to do with space than with sadism. However, Financial News notes that it's not the first time Goldman Sachs interns have had their rank emphasized by the bank's seating arrangements: ex-Goldman executive director Greg Smith said interns had to fight over folding stools in his book about leaving Goldman Sachs of 2012. If true, the whole thing seems strangely infantile - particularly as Goldman prides itself on a culture of collaboration.

Separately, there are people who read this site who will say categorically that central risk is a bad job (you know who you are). But at Credit Suisse it sounds pretty ok. Business Insider reports that Credit Suisse has opened a central risk desk in the past 12 months and is using it to take an increased amount of risk in equities trading. Symptomatic of this was a $100m trade which reportedly caused some nervousness among traders in the Swiss bank who weren't used to such high levels of risk - even though some U.S. banks place trades of this size almost bi-weekly.


“If women make one mistake, their career growth gets stalled. Men are able to make multiple mistakes and not suffer career consequences." (WSJ) 

Banks will start fast-tracking their Brexit preparations in December if there's still no deal: "If we get to December and there has been no progress towards a deal, then there is probably no deal....You'd finish the job quite quickly at that point.” (Financial News) 

From June 2016 through March 2018, cross-border lending from the U.K. actually increased by $316 billion. In the three months through to June 2018, cross-border lending from the U.K. declined by $129 billion (adjusted for currency fluctuations) — the largest drop in three years. (Bloomberg) 

So much for the revised Volcker Rule making life easier for banks' traders. Goldman Sachs says it could be worse. - It banks from from holding anything that fits within an accounting category that ties the value of securities to market prices. (Bloomberg) 

UBS is planning a big comeback in U.S. wealth management. Nine years after being fined $780m in the U.S., the Swiss bank wants to hire dozens of high-profile relationship managers and client advisers from U.S. competitors.  (Financial Times) 

The Financial Conduct Authority wants to know why UBS did not contact it any time during its six-month internal probe, despite guidelines stipulating that companies should keep the regulator informed of ongoing internal “issues” regarding potential sexual misconduct. (Financial News) 

20% of female founders say they've been harassed by investors. (Wired) 

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Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • An
    24 October 2018

    The WSJ article is paywalled, but it can be read on the Toronto Star site. The evidence in support of the article consists of dubious assertions and executives bigging themselves up. It relies on somewhat dated and stereotypical gender assumptions and much of the claims cross over into self-aggrandisement. The author of the piece, Joann Lublin, also wrote a book entitled 'Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons From Trailblazing Women At The Top Of The Business World', which made me think that the article was perhaps not written from a neutral perspective, and even whether it was intended to be taken seriously.

  • An
    23 October 2018

    The Wired survey appears to be entirely self-reported, and doesn't state what (if any) checks and balances were in place to ascertain whether people who claimed to be harassed actually were. Adjusting for false accusations and unconscious bias, I would say that the amount of female founders who have actually been harassed would be around 10% max. I wonder if Wired have or will run a similar survey to look at the amount of male founders who have been sexually harassed, including via false accusations.

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