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Morning Coffee: Top trader's revenge on the bank that fired him. Fresh horrors at SocGen

David Fotheringhame is not your average trader. The former head of electronic fixed income currencies and commodities (FICC) trading at Barclays is a man of exceptional intelligence, as suggested by his array of top class university degrees. He has a first in natural sciences from Cambridge University, a PhD in computational neuroscience from Oxford University, a first class degree in mathematics from the Open University, and - latterly - a distinction in the Masters in Machine Learning from University College London.

Fotheringhame got top marks in the Machine Learning Masters while he was also busy taking Barclays to court. As of last week, he's succeeded in that too: Barclays must now pay Fotheringhame £948k ($1.2m) in compensation for firing him in 2016 at the behest of the New York Department of Financial Services, which alleged that Fotheringhame was a key player in a trading system that it said rejected unprofitable client orders for the bank. 

Fotheringhame's is not a simple tale of man-bites-bank, though. It's more one of man singlehandedly-savages- bank-and-the-regulatory-institution-that-impelled-the-bank-to-fire-him.  Fotheringhame's success in squeezing £1m out of Barclays is all the more impressive because he represented himself in court. Supplementary to this success, he's set up a special website to censure the New York DFS. 

Despite being a high speed electronic trader, Fotheringhame played a long game. When he was first dumped by Barclays in 2016, the obvious thing would have been to claim unfair dismissal, but this would have earned him maximum compensation of just £80k. Instead, therefore, Fotheringhame demanded that Barclays give him his old job back. The bank refused, and was ordered by the court to make him a director of data commercialization and to pay him $190k (£149k) a year. Foolishly, Barclays refused to do that too, prompting a further hearing in which it was forced to pay Fotheringhame the £948k.

David Fotheringhame is clearly not a man to be messed with. Armed with ~£1m and his arsenal of qualifications, he's now free to work elsewhere - or to tend his site criticising his treatment by the DFS, which he says was "egregiously unprincipled" and disregarded his employment rights. The DFS is declining to comment, which is probably wise.

Separately, SocGen's forthcoming layoffs may hit 1,500 people at its investment bank. This was the number floated by French paper Le Figaro over the weekend, which said 700 of those cuts will come in Paris. It all could come as a terrible shock to French bankers used to lifelong employment. All eyes now are on the size of SocGen's redundancy packages. They have a long history of giganticism but have yet to be revealed for this particular round of cuts.  


250 investment bankers at JPMorgan in San Francisco are having their office space redesigned to provide, 'diner-style booths, designated quiet zones and communal tables.' JPM bankers in Hong Kong have got this stuff already. (Reuters) 

Private equity boss spends £50k ($65k) for a meal with the British prime minister. He wants to warn her about jobs disappearing to automation.  (ThisisMoney) 

Barclays spent £38m buying out the bonuses of 37 material risk takers last year. (Financial News) 

The former head of British investment bank Schroders drove to work in an old BMW instead of a Ferrari. (The Times) 

David Solomon's new track has hit number 33 in a dance music chart. (Youred) 

Frankfurt hipsters are getting excited about the effect of the banker influx on the city's art scene. “Each time I hear that someone like Goldman Sachs is moving hundreds of workers to Frankfurt, I cheer. Of course, Brexit is a terrible thing, but for artists in Frankfurt it will really be a real boost.” (Financial Times) 

'My bonus was more than three and a half times my salary. With some of the spare cash, I bought an Aston Martin. My personal stock rose. Making sure that other people knew you had done well, without being too tasteless, was an essential part of the bonus culture.' (Financial Times) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Ma
    Matthew G. Leitch
    26 February 2019

    The banker is obviously very smart.

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