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Wall Street firms join mental health alliance as suicide tally grows

Depressed

Following a recent spate of apparent suicides, big banks and other financial firms are being pushed to look into making cultural changes that could improve the mental health of their employees.

Eight financial professionals have reportedly taken their own lives in 2014, many in rather public ways. Six of the eight either jumped from a building or leapt in front of a train, according to the New York Post.

Wall Street is now taking notice. Nearly two-dozen firms, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, have joined the City Mental Health Alliance, a new group aimed at improving the mental well-being of financial professionals.  The group’s chairman, Peter Rodgers, told Bloomberg that Wall Street has already made a number of efforts along this vein – likely referencing the new work-life rules for junior bankers – but the initiatives “need to be accepted by a cultural change at the very top.”

Experts told the site that the hard-working culture of the banking industry could hold some blame. Suicide risk increases for those who “have not cultivated friendships, networks, outside of their company,” one expert told Bloomberg. It’s the personal networks that act as “safety valves” in times of crisis, he said.

While banks and cooperative groups do their own research, London investigators have launched coroners’ probes into two apparent suicides in the City – one involving a Deutsche Bank exec and the other a J.P. Morgan VP. The first inquest will begin today, with the other scheduled for late May.

Job Market Pulse (eFinancialCareers)

In this week’s hiring roundup, private bankers are needed in the East, a bond giant makes an equities push and a once-fertile financial capital begins to regain its footing.

Ex-Bankers Can’t Turn It Off (eFinancialCareers)

Even after they leave banking, Wall Streeters continue working unnecessarily hard. Worse, they transmit their overwork ethic to new colleagues, according to new research.

Focus of Probe Retires (WSJ)

J.P. Morgan’s vice chairman of investment banking in Asia is stepping down amid a probe into the bank’s hiring practices in the region. Sources say the move was voluntary.

‘Unwelcome Disruption’ (Bloomberg)

Phil Allison, the longtime global head of cash equities at UBS, is leaving the firm. He’s certainly not being pushed out. The unit had a great 2013. No word yet on if he is retiring or headed elsewhere.

Guilty (ABC News)

Five of Bernie Madoff’s former employees were found guilty of helping their old boss defraud investors out of billions of dollars.

Citi Reshuffles FX Trading Group (WSJ)

Citigroup is merging its FX voice and electronic trading businesses. As part of the move, Richard Bibbey has been named the bank’s new head of global spot FX trading, among several other internal people moves.

Profit Margins Set to Shrink (FT)

Investment banking pay will continue to fall as new capital rules grow teeth, says Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, chief executive of BNP Paribas, which just announced that it is cutting 20% of its Ukrainian workforce.

Buzz Around the Office

This is Not a Game! (io9)

A French math teacher has concocted a brilliant technique for keeping his students in line. If they act up, he writes a spoiler for Game of Thrones on the blackboard.

Quote of the Day: “If you look at other big European banks that are less profitable than us, their CEOs are being paid at least €8m. Personally I will get €3m. French banks in that respect and their top executives are very reasonable people. That is the way it is. It is good enough.” – Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, chief executive of BNP Paribas

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