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For some, the pandemic has led to a reappraisal.

Morning Coffee: When you can't be bothered to chase finance jobs any more. Some good news about HSBC

If you've been looking for a finance job in 2020, it hasn't been easy. Year-on-year, recruitment at major banks fell by up to 70% at the start of the pandemic, and is still 34%-43% lower than last year in London and New York respectively. It's not just that there are fewer jobs around, it's also that banks have become more ponderous in their hiring processes - interminable Zoom interviews followed by a decision not to proceed after all, have been more commonplace this year.

So at which point do you call it a day? How about at the point when you find yourself living back home with your parents, reappraising your priorities? By all accounts, there are plenty of younger people in this situation. One Wall Street researcher recalls how she was working late in the office with a colleague when she received the work from home (WFH) email in March. "He said right away "I'm going to go back to the Midwest with my family until this blows over. He's still there."

You're less likely to reappraise your priorities if you're back in your childhood home and are still employed, although the Financial Times notes that working from home can be particularly stressful if people feel isolated or excluded when layoffs are being made. However, if you're trying to find a finance job and you're back in childhood surroundings, it's tempting to wonder whether there might be another path instead. 

The New York Times has unearthed young people in precisely this situation. One of them, 21-year-old David Taylor, said he fell into "dark times" after returning to his parents' home an hour outside Manhattan. “Before this, I was rocking full speed—my classes were going well,” said Taylor, who was studying finance at NYU Stern. “I was living out my senior spring semester and then two weeks later I had all these online classes and my laptop stayed closed—I felt like, ‘I can’t do any of this.’”

Before the pandemic, Taylor had been working hard on getting into Wall Street. He completed internships at hedge fund Millennium Management and in sales and trading at Barclays. However, returning home and walking and talking with his mother and siblings made him think again. “I realized that all that finance-career stuff is awesome when you’re in school and in the city, but at home I was thinking about everything I was really passionate about and what really mattered to me.” 

Ultimately, Taylor decided to give up chasing finance jobs and to study a Master's in education at Harvard in pursuit of a career in teaching instead. He's unlikely to be the only one: landing a finance job - particularly a first finance job, is hard work, and away from the pressure of finance-obsessed peers, it's easier to question why it was a priority in the first place.

Separately, HSBC's U.S. salespeople and traders can breathe a little more easily now. Following this month's ejection of Michael Yarian, HSBC's New York-based head of Americas debt markets and global head of flow rates trading, and various comments about cost-cutting in the U.S., there was a slight danger that HSBC might close its U.S. operations altogether. The FT says this isn't a risk anymore: HSBC is considering closing its U.S. retail business, but a full U.S. exit is no longer on the table. “The US is an important marketplace,” one senior insider said.


Ray Dalio is opening a family office in Singapore. Presumably it will not be in the woods. (Bloomberg) 

The European Union is accused of being awkward over financial services rules and Brexit. “I just do not see how we can have an equivalence process where the E.U. essentially says, ‘We’re not even going to judge equivalence at the moment, because our rules are going to change...What does that mean, really? It means that they think this is a rule‑taking process.” (New York Times)

Andreas Loetscher, Deutsche Bank's head of accounting, who joined in 2018 after twenty years at EY, is being probed over potential misconduct relating to Wirecard (Financial Times)

Coinbase, the U.S. cryptocurrency start-up, stands accused of racism towards its own employees. One black employee said her manager openly accused her of dealing drugs and carrying a gun. The founder wrote about creating an “all star” culture, with mostly young white and Asian men instead of creating a "family." “Players who don’t contribute or work as a team get cut." (New York Times) 

In 1987 some City of London pubs barred women. (Financial Times)

North Korea executed an FX trader following a near 20% appreciation of North Korean won against the U.S. dollar in recent months. (Financial Times)

Now Mizuho is trimming Singapore office space in the expectation that people will continue to work from home, at least part-time, indefinitely. (Bloomberg) 

Jörg Kukies, the German deputy finance minister and former head of Goldman Sachs in Germany, announced €10 billion for investments in start-ups. (Handelsblatt)

JPMorgan currently has 12 private bankers serving mainland Chinese clients from Singapore. It wants another 12. (Bloomberg) 

Practice the art of doing nothing. I do nothing with purpose,” Manfred Kets de Vries, a professor of leadership development and organizational change at Insead in Paris, said. “I know that without breaks I cannot be effective.” (New York Times)

Rich kids who eschew capitalism. “I get rich because other people aren’t getting rich, and I don’t want to keep making more wealth off investments in things like Coca-Cola and Exxon-Mobil. I would rather put my money into a community that has been denied economic resources and disrupt the system.” (New York Times) 

The buy-side doesn't want to pay as much for analyst meetings now that they're on Zoom. (Financial Times) 

Photo by Rayner Simpson on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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