Morning Coffee: Bank rings in Valentine’s Day with ‘for her’ employee discounts on kitchen appliances. Doubts at Deutsche Bank

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HSBC’s Valentine’s Day surprise wasn’t exactly met with heartfelt gratitude by its employees. The British bank drew the ire of its staff after news leaked of a special Valentine’s Day deal for Hong Kong employees that offered “for her” and “for him” discounts on select goods. The list of items under each section had staff in both Hong Kong and London sharing their displeasure.

While the “for him” section included discounts on laptops, a GoPro camera and wireless headphones, the “for her” portion of the advert contained offers on a blender, a kitchen water tap and five different vacuum cleaners, according to Reuters. The multi-page advertisement, labeled “HSBC Staff Offer,” was adorned with pink heart drawings. The document was reportedly posted on an internal chatroom, where it got in the hands of HSBC employees in London.

The bank told Reuters that the advertisement was produced by an external company. “The offer is from a third party source who manage their own marketing materials. HSBC is committed to gender diversity in the workplace,” the bank said in a statement.

The gaffe comes at a bad time for HSBC, which acknowledged in December that its gender pay gap had actually worsened in 2018. Of course, it’s not the first bank to spark controversy over perceived gender-stereotyping gifts. Goldman Sachs came under fire in 2014 by handing out swag bags at a women’s tech event that included cosmetic mirrors and nail files.

Elsewhere, Deutsche Bank investors are calling on CEO Christian Sewing to make even deeper cuts as the company’s share price continues to dwindle. Four of Deutsche Bank’s 10 biggest shareholders told the Financial Times that Sewing should take a bigger knife to the firm’s troubled U.S. investment bank, which was shrunk last year as part of the bank’s new strategy. At least some investors believe not enough meat was cut from the bone.

Meanwhile, doubts about the management team under Sewing have also reportedly mounted, including questions over the standing of investment banking chief Garth Ritchie, despite the board extending Ritchie’s contract by five years just last September. "Christian needs to make a change in the next few months," one big investor told the FT of the management team in general.


J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon was smart to walk back his comments on cryptocurrency, which he famously referred to as “a fraud” and “not a real thing” back in 2017. The bank is trialing a new digital token dubbed the JPM Coin designed to instantly settle cross-border transactions between clients. It’s the first time a major U.S. bank has backed a digital currency. (CNBC)

Credit Suisse traders tripped over themselves for the second consecutive quarter as the bank's markets business posted a larger-than-expected loss in Q4 that offset solid performances in other areas. However, the firm did say that it would avoid further shrinking of its investment bank. (Breaking Views)

If you work for the Bank of England or a host of other financial institutions in London, you might want to stock up on dish soap. City banks are pushing to eliminate the use of plastics by its employees in an effort to reduce waste. The Bank of England is eliminating 600,000 disposable cups a year. (Financial News)

Former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng will return to the U.S. to face bribery and money-laundering charges related to the 1MDB bribery scandal. (NY Times)

The bad news for the three founders of Carlyle Group is that their combined compensation for 2018 fell 5% from the previous year. On the bright side, the sum still amounted to $183 million. Not bad considering they no longer run the day-to-day operations. The private equity firm’s co-CEOs, Glenn Youngkin and Kewsong Lee, took home roughly $37 million a piece. (Bloomberg)  

Pour one out for the two Amazon employees who bought condos in New York City prior to Amazon announcing their plans for a second headquarters. The e-commerce giant has officially reversed its decision to bring 25,000 jobs to New York’s Long Island City neighborhood following public outcry over the hefty tax incentives that came with the deal. (Fortune)

Senad Prusac, Morgan Stanley’s global head of macro trading in the bank’s fixed income division, is retiring. (Reuters)

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