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Morning Coffee: Credit Suisse's belated bonus generosity not necessarily working. Intensely patronising layoffs afflict the fintech sector

Given the choice of working elsewhere now, would you stay at Credit Suisse? How about if you were offered a large mid-year retention bonus to stay? Still no?

If Credit Suisse wants to retain anyone now, it presumably wants to retain managing directors in its investment banking division. In particular, it is presumably keen to keep hold of managing directors covering such hot sectors as fintech and power, energy and renewables. And yet, these are the Credit Suisse managing directors who are leaving. 

Bloomberg reports that both Prescott Johnson, a managing director in Credit Suisse's energy and infrastructure team, and David Goldstein, a managing director in Credit Suisse's fintech team, are going. Both are based in the US and had been with Credit Suisse for over a decade: Johnson was there 12 years, Goldstein 16.  Johnson is joining Bank of America; Goldstein is going to Jefferies. 

The departures come after Credit Suisse announced last week that its investment bank will be subject to further restructuring pending a new plan to be revealed in the third quarter. However, Credit Suisse's M&A bankers should be protected from the turbulence: the bank intends to move to an "advisory-led" model and its M&A revenues were up 44% year-on-year in the second quarter following "significant deal closing activity." David Miller, global head of investment banking and capital markets, said in June that the bank was hiring: after adding 55 managing directors already in the first six months of the year (to replace 69 who left in 2021), CS planned to hire another 40, said Miller. Credit Suisse may be restructuring, but its M&A and capital markets business is supposed to be in growth mode. 

If this isn't enough of a sell to get people to stay, Credit Suisse recently dispensed $300m of retention bonuses in a single month to help it retain talent. These bonuses were targeted at employees in Asia and North America and one senior financial sponsors banker alone reportedly received $10m. Goldstein and Johnson surely received something. 

Not enough, it seems. And the risk is that where they have gone, others will follow. Despite the avowals of consistency, there is turbulence. Christian Meissner, head of Credit Suisse's investment bank, is leaving and it's not clear who will replace him. $300m of retention bonuses don't count for much after last year's bonuses were cut and while this year's bonuses are likely to be cut too. Moreover, the bank's CHF1.9bn first half loss and the investment bank's CHF1.1bn loss for Q2 don't bode well for further clawbacks on bonuses awarded in the past. Unfortunately for Credit Suisse, Goldstein and Johnson may not be its last banking MDs to leave this year.

Separately, the 780 people laid off from Robinhood in the latest round of cuts there can at least have no more to do with what appears to be a slightly cloying corporate culture. 

In a letter to staff about the job cuts, CEO Vlad Tenev repeatedly refers to his acolyltes as "Robinhoodies" and laments the need to let nearly a quarter of his Robinhoodies go. Nonetheless, needs must, and Tenev says every "Hoodie" will soon receive a Slack message informing them of their status. If they're no longer wanted, this will be followed-up with a schedule to discuss their specific situation live. "We know that this news is tough for all Robinhoodies, and we are also offering wellness support to those who would like it," adds Vlad. 

While the sentiment is strong, the insistent evocation of a pally set of chums is not. Credit Suisse employees can at least celebrate the fact that they are not known by the collective noun "Suisseys," even if the bank is likely to let a lot more of them go soon.  


Robinhood shares rose 13% after it said the Hoodies were going. (Bloomberg) 

PayPal saved itself $360m with staff cuts. (Bloomberg) 

A Hong Kong-based company seemingly owned by ex-UBS banker Calvin Choi appears to be worth $310bn after soaring in value by 22,000%. AMTD Digital develops digital businesses, including financial services firms, and is now worth more than Bank of America, Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. The rise in price may have something to do with the fact that only a small proportion of AMTD's shares are available for trading, making it easier to push the price up. Choi is intolerant of the haters. There are those who envy and [are] jealous, and those who are cold-eyed and mockers, and malicious, there are slanderers,” he declared last year. (Bloomberg) 

SocGen says it's in “cautious but not catastrophic” mode. (Financial Times) 

Point72 hired two economists: Sophia Drossos as economist and strategist based in New York, and Soeren Radde as head of European economic research, based in London. (Hedgeweek) 

Don't be too ambitious with your holiday plans. "Trust your gut and gravitate toward experiences that seem most enjoyable when you imagine them." (WSJ)

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Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash


AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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