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Morning Coffee: Senior UBS MD says things changing faster than you thought. Truncated banking careers

George Athanasopoulos

Can you work with multiple products and platforms?

George Athanasopoulos knows a thing or two about investment banks’ sales and trading businesses. He’s been a managing director (MD) in investment banks since 2003 – first at Merrill Lynch, then at Barclays, then at UBS where he’s currently global co-head of rates, FX, and credit. Athanasopoulos’ career began in 1992, when some of the newest banking juniors weren’t even born. He’s seen market players and market structure change beyond all recognition, and now he thinks some other big changes are upon us – especially if you work in sales. 

The model of having one team covering clients on the telephone and another selling the electronic platform has had its day, Athanasopoulos tells Euromoney: “We had that for 15 years, it is well past its sell-by date.” In future, he predicts that clients will begin demanding one single point of contact. More importantly, he thinks salespeople will need to work across all products – there’s cross-over between FX and rates and equities. “We don’t think the model of selling products via dedicated teams is going to remain for much longer,” Athanasopoulos predicts.

If you work in sales, the implication is that things are about to change a lot. If you want to get with it, you’ll need the versatility to work across multiple products –  not just in the fixed income or the equities space, but both. Goldman Sachs‘ new ‘Client-Relationship Management and Strategy Group,’ looks like an example of the new terrain – as we reported last month, the new group combines Goldman’s most senior and effective salespeople in an attempt to provide coherent, cross-product advice to Goldman’s biggest clients.

Separately, while  Athanasopoulos may have spent 24 years in banking, 13 of them at MD level, not everyone’s so lucky. Lucy Kellaway at the Financial Times notes that when she attended a banking event recently, around 25% of the 200 attendees were women but fewer than 1% were aged 50+. While this may partly be attributed to the voluntary retirement of people who’ve earned so much money that they can’t be bothered with working any more, Kellaway ponders the absence of support staff: “Where are all the fifty-somethings who used to do standard corporate jobs in human resources, or marketing, or events? Who employs them?” Not banks, it seems.

Meanwhile:

“I miss the FX traders with their braces, their hair slicked back with gel and the car keys of certain sports car brands ostentatiously left on their desk.” (Financial Times)

Lloyd Blankfein personally invested in the (failed) hedge fund run by Hilary Clinton’s son in law.  (The Intercept)

If you’re in your early 40s and you want to retire on £50k ($73k) a year and have a minimal (£100k) pension pot, you need to be saving £3k a month. (Financial Times) 

RBS is cutting 450 support jobs. Some are being outsourced to India.(Financial Times) 

Yes, you need to get into machine learning. (Institutional Investors)

When the parties involved aren’t motivated by profit or worried about loss, good economic decisions are unlikely to be made. (OakTreeCapital)

Risk-taking fund managers can attract more inflows and higher salaries than more cautious but better managers. (StumblingandMumbling) 

Americans are more likely to urinate in hotel pools. (MarketWatch) 

A helpful guide to British people for Americans. (Twitter) 

Photo credit: 002HD WHITE LdC Group Throw, Smashed by The Lowry is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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