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Morning Coffee: Investment banks already have their Brexit bags packed. Getting into the world’s biggest hedge fund

Brexit

All those reassuring messages emerging from investment banks about the need for patience before making any decisions on their UK staffing levels after the Brexit vote may not have been strictly true.

Not only are investment banks’ bags already packed, but they’ve gone through security and are in the departure lounge. When Article 50 is finally served, banks will have already taken their flights to Frankfurt (or Dublin, Luxembourg, Paris, Madrid etc), according to Bloomberg.

Investment banks are becoming increasingly frustrated with the seeming lack of action to fight for the City of London and are not going to wait until 2019 for a deal (when Article 50 is likely to invoked), only to find that it’s not going to allow them adequate access to the EU’s single market.

Goldman Sachs has already warned it could restructure its UK operations, Deutsche has a secret exit plan and other firms’ contingency plans are well and truly firmed up.

Has anything really changed, though? Read between the lines of the corporate vagaries coming out of the Q2 results reporting season and the messages were clear – we already have offices in Continental Europe, moving people if we don’t have to is a headache we don’t want, but the impact will be “significant”, so the government needs to do something, but we’ll wait months not years.

Investment banks were never going to hang around for the glacial movements in Westminster or Brussels. Brexit is an incredibly complex process, and right now it looks as though the City’s access to the single market will be sacrificed for other parts of the UK economy, believes Rupert Harrison, a former adviser to chancellor George Osborne who now works at Blackrock.

“If banks are moving some of these jobs, I think that is entirely a rational thing to do for them,” he said.

In truth, investment banks would have been planning for this scenario since the June 23 vote – firming up contingency plans, securing banking licences, getting regulatory sign off for the internal models they calculate their capital requirements and ensuring they’re not scrambling to serve clients should single market access suddenly be revoked. This is what takes time, and it could still be years before employees start to move out of London.

Separately, Business Insider has an insightful piece about the rigorous recruitment process at Bridgewater Associates. Expect five personality tests and “blitz days” which could involve 20-30 interviews in one day. The most uncomfortable of these is the “life/culture” interview, which former employees suggest gets very personal indeed.

If you’re accepted, Bridgewater will create your own personal ‘baseball card’, which lists your individual personality, values and abilities, and will be retained even after you leave. The typical Wall Street type probably won’t make it through, it suggests. Assuming you do get the job, know that 25% of employees drop out after 18 months.

Meanwhile:

“You have a friendly activist involved, and that friendly activist might not be so friendly if Morgan Stanley misses their 2017 targets.” That 2% stake in Morgan Stanley by activist hedge fund ValueAct is a ‘Good thing’ (CNBC)

Nomura is cutting its U.S. investment bank headcount and compensation has shrunk by 70%, but it’s CEO is still getting $5m (Bloomberg)

Ben Story, Citi’s head of UK investment banking and broking, has joined boutique advisory firm Smith Square Partners (Financial News)

M&A isn’t too bad this year really: 2015 was very good and 2014 was none too shabby either, so comparisons are unflattering, says the co-head of M&A at UBS Americas (Bloomberg)

Big investment banks need to learn how to get along. The best way to cut costs is to share technology and maybe even office space (Reuters)

Boutique bank PJT Partners has now bagged $20bn in advisory fees and is starting to challenge the bulge brackets (Financial News)

The rise of the DIY algo traders: “If our model is successful there will be no need for hedge funds any more. A smart guy with a laptop will be able to start his own hedge fund. It will be very challenging to the big incumbents. A very simple idea can prove very powerful.” (Financial Times)

Bad times at big hedge funds: Brevan Howard has lost $3bn in assets, Tudor has cut 15% of staff as it invests in computer trading (WSJ)

“Big companies cannot really deal with originality; for all their talk of creativity, they only work if everyone does everything more or less the same way. That’s why they make a big deal of their fonts all being the same.” (Financial Times)

Management consultants are earning £1k ($1.3k) a day to work on Brexit, lawyers are getting £5k ($6.5k) (The Times)

If you really want to get off the couch after work, sign up to an expensive gym (Quartz)

Your boss likes your colleagues more than you. You need to up your game (Fast Company)

Photo: parema/Getty Images

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