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Morning Coffee: Ex-Goldman Sachs trader says junior bankers have it easy. Recruiter refuses to wear a mask

With all the fuss about junior banker working hours, people in other areas of investment banks have been overlooked. - What about the IT staff in India forced into middle of the night meetings with other time zones, or the risk manager working 12-hour days? Glassdoor is full of complaints about working hours in banks, and most of them don't come from analysts and associates in the investment banking division who are exhausted by Excel models. 

If you're only looking at jobs in the front office though, it's traders' working hours that deserve scrutiny compared to bankers'. After all, junior bankers have now had salary rises to compensate for (among other things) their lack of personal time. Traders' salaries have stayed the same. Is this fair?

Xavier Rolet, the ex-head of the London Stock Exchange who is also an ex-trader at Goldman Sachs, suggests it's not. Rolet's appraisal may be a little out of date - he worked for Goldman in London and New York from 1984 to 1994 - but when he was a trader, he says he worked far longer than today's junior bankers, and that he's therefore not sure what junior bankers are complaining about.

"We’d work the whole NY trading day in the office, have dinner on the desk, then trade Asia and Tokyo from 8pm til 10pm, go home during the half-day recess and trade the Tokyo afternoon session from home from 12pm to 2am," Rolet wrote in comments on LinkedIn, reported by Financial News. "Grab some shut-eye til 4am to put our orders in the European markets in time for the opening… quick commute to 40 Wall to be in the office by 6.30am to continue to trade our European orders in time for the pre-opening in NY."

In this way, Rolet says he regularly clocked up 130-hour weeks - more than the 110-120 hour weeks that Goldman's junior investment bankers complained about earlier this year. Far from finding this objectionable, he says it was "good for a broke kid from a Parisian sink estate" and that the long hours were palliated by delicious lunches and dinners delivered to the desk. 

Rolet's account might be dismissed as a bit of chest-thumping from a guy who's moved into the non-executive director phase of his career, but it will hit a nerve with traders who've been asking when they'll get a salary rise too. As was noted here recently, most traders do genuinely work far shorter hours than bankers, but there are exceptions. Today's banks are far more global than in Rolet's day, and offices overseas should theoretically handle their markets opening and closing. - But if you're covering emerging markets you still might be expected to trade markets in Asia and markets in the Americas in the same day, which could mean you're working 15 hours+ when markets are volatile. - Traders are tired too.

Separately, newspapers in Singapore have been filled with a cautionary tale for recruiters who feel it's their moral duty to make a statement about COVID-19 by refusing to wear a mask. Benjamin Glynn, a British recruiter in Singapore, has steadfastly refused to wear a mask despite Singaporean laws compelling people to do so. After being filmed maskless on a train citing Bill Gates and offering justifications like "I'm very religious, and I love human beings", Glynn was invited to court, where he also arrived without a mask. The train incident provoked complaints in Singapore that Glynn was just another expat suffering from "white superiority complex" and Glynn appears to have been fired from the international financial services recruitment firm that had been employing him as a result. 


550 Citi interns will arrive in the office this week for the in-office element of their semi-virtual internships. Interns already in banking offices have been enjoying clubbing and bars and being on the trading floor. “It was like the Super Bowl, but way more intense...We were like ‘Oh my God, what world have we entered?’” (Bloomberg)

Revolut founder Nikolay Storonsky says he decided to create his own app based bank partly because he was a bit bored as an equity derivatives trader at Credit Suisse. As a banker I’d already reached the maximum...It became very boring." (Bloomberg) 

KPMG has been reprimanded for the poor state of its UK banking audits for the third year running. 29% of its sample were found to require some or significant improvement, compared to 33% last year. (Financial Times)

SPAC activity is falling fast. Funds raised by U.S.-listed Spacs dwindled to just $3bn in April from $35bn in March while the number of new vehicles fell to 13 from 109. (Financial Times) 

Bank of America says staff coming into its offices don't need to fill in health assessment forms anymore. However, employees are not allowed to hold or attend internal or external in-person events or large meetings until September 30, unless its global events team or the firm's chief administrative officer, Andrea Smith, approve. (Business Insider)

Dropbox is offering its staff who work from home an individual allowance of up to $7k a year to spend on personal trainers, meditation-app subscriptions, parental coaching, lactation systems, doulas, vet visits, music lessons, tax prep, ergonomic office chairs, and groceries. (Business Insider) 

Female consultants in a London-based division of KPMG have been offered golf lessons so that they don’t miss out on networking opportunities. (The Times)

Credit Suisse reached a settlement with Iqbal Khan and his wife, plus the private detective firm Investigo, for having had Khan and his wife followed through the streets of Zurich. (Financial Times)

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • An
    26 July 2021

    Are the male consultants at KPMG being offered golf lessons too?

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