Morning Coffee: Proof machines are coming for all banking jobs. Brexit’s strangest shortage

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It’s no secret that automation is eliminating the need for a number of banking functions once carried out by actual human beings. The first to be hit were traders and those working in retail. Now, banks are using robo-advisors and cutting jobs in research that have been made redundant by machine learning and artificial intelligence. But the general assumption was that sales jobs would always be safe. It turns out that may not even be true.

The World Bank has launched the first-ever public bond fund created and managed using only blockchain technology, according to Reuters. If proven successful, the $73 million prototype deal could lead to the automation of bond sales practices that currently require several human functions, including bond issuance, book-building as well as settlement and custodian services. Blockchain has previously been used in other bond offerings, but never from start to finish.

The bond deal is being carried out in Australia, a popular testing ground for market “experiments,” particularly those incorporating new technologies. The Australian Securities Exchange has already announced plans to utilize blockchain to clear and settle equities trades come 2020. The processes are designed to cut costs, which is a nice way of saying they will result in headcount reductions across a decades-old manual platform.

The news comes just two days after J.P. Morgan infuriated some discount brokerage firms by announcing the rollout of its own online trading service that will be embedded into the current Chase mobile app. The kicker: the bank is offering no-cost trading.

Elsewhere, U.K. officials said on Thursday that European firms will be allowed to operate as normal in London for three years post-Brexit if no trade deal is reached before the March split. The “no-deal” scenario is likely, in part, an effort by U.K. officials to encourage the EU to reciprocate in a similar fashion, but we’ll have to wait and see. The news was included in 25 papers published on Thursday outlining the potential impact of not reaching a trade deal, including higher credit card fees, limited access to organic food and a U.K.-wide sperm shortage. More than half of Britain’s donor sperm comes from Denmark – which is not a fact you thought you’d learn reading the Financial Times.


To no surprise, Goldman Sachs is launching its retail banking operations in the U.K. Savings accounts through Goldman’s Marcus brand are now being offered to current employees ahead of the online bank’s official debut in just a few weeks. (CNN)

Credit Suisse terminated two male executives in London after new evidence was unearthed related to a 2010 sexual assault investigation. (Financial News)

J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon was one of several business leaders to sign a letter expressing “serious concerns” about the Trump administration’s immigration policies. One of the issues expected to affect banks is the administration’s efforts to curtail work permits for spouses of highly skilled immigrants. Financial firms often sponsor H1B visa holders to work on highly complex technical projects. (Fortune)

It’s official. Elon Musk has indeed hired Morgan Stanley to pair with Goldman Sachs in his effort to take Tesla private. Morgan Stanley dropped its coverage of Tesla earlier in the week, sparking rumors that Musk was looking to hire the bank. (Bloomberg)

BNP Paribas is launching a U.K.-based broking team headed by two senior advisory bankers that it is poaching from Credit Suisse. Lewis Burnett and Andrew Forrester will start at BNP later in the year. (FT)

Goldman Sachs is shuttering two Asian-focused hedge funds run by partners Ryan Thall and Hideki Kinuhata. Thall is said to be starting his own fund while Kinuhata is retiring. (Bloomberg)

Another day, another depressing study on the lack of female management at financial firms. Just two of the 50 largest U.S. hedge funds count women as their top investment executive, despite half of their investor relations and marketing departments being run by women. (WSJ)

Procter & Gamble is up to some shenanigans. In an apparent effort to market its products to younger customers, the consumer goods company has applied for trademarks for acronyms WTF, FML, NBD and LOL. Seriously, WTF Procter & Gamble? (Bloomberg)

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