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Morning Coffee: Jes Staley’s special technique for cutting heads at Barclays. Goldman applauds RBS layoffs

Jes Staley hiring freeze

Showing how it's done

Jes Staley has achieved what many other investment banking CEOs dream of:  he has discovered a reliable method of slashing headcount in the front office.

Barclays has been talking about vigorously cutting headcount in its investment bank since at least 2011. Talk, however, does not mean action. At the end of 2011, Barclays’ investment bank employed 23,600 people. At the end of last year, it employed 20,500: a drop of 13% in four years, which isn’t exactly huge when you’re supposed to be restructuring.

Step up Jes Staley. Jes joined Barclays last November and is already to be found boasting in the Financial Times about his prowess for extracting staff from the investment bank. In the four months of Staley’s sovereignty, he says he’s cut 6,000 people from the entity formerly known as Barclays Capital – double what his predecessors achieved in four whole years.

Staley’s secret is simple: he’s stopped hiring. Save the occasional big recruit from J.P. Morgan and the odd VP in real estate banking, it seems Barclays hasn’t recruited anyone since Jes joined. Hiring in Barclays’ investment bank is in the deep freeze, and it’s having an affect. Someone might want to tell John Cryan at Deutsche Bank – he’s supposed to be cutting headcount too, but Deutsche actually added staff in its investment bank in 2015.

Staley aside, the bank with the best record of cutting heads is RBS. Between 2014 and 2015, RBS cut its front office investment banking headcount from from 3,700 people to just 1,200 people. Now RBS is turning its attention to the unspecified number of infrastructure staff who support them. Bloomberg reported yesterday that RBS is eliminating 448 “trading support roles” in the UK and creating 300 new jobs in India. Goldman Sachs’ banking analysts applauded this move, upping RBS’s stock to buy from neutral, partly on the grounds that the associated 70% cut in risk weighted assets in the investment bank will greatly improve returns.

Meanwhile:

Citigroup will soon be laying off equities and fixed income traders on Wall Street. (CNBC) 

Compliance professionals earn 36% more on the sell-side than on the buy-side. That may have to change. (The Tally)

Bank of America has been busy dismissing bankers in Brazil and Chile. (Bloomberg) 

Jefferies says things are getting better: January and February were “extremely challenging,” but markets have “stabilized” and “aggressively snapped back” in March. (Marketwatch) 

“We are humbled by Jefferies’ quarterly loss and will strive to deliver the better results that our shareholders deserve and Jefferies is more than capable of achieving.” (Financial Times)  

Standard Chartered’s mistake with CVA suggests it’s very out of date. (Risk)

J.P. Morgan would love to revive the wilder end of the residential mortgage backed securitization market. (WSJ) 

Tom Hayes told a bank he was remortgaging his house for £350k to pay for gardening. Actually, he was paying for legal fees. (Guardian) 

Bank of America Merrill Lynch just hired a former Swedish prime minister as an advisor. (Financial News) 

Work as a copywriter for a tech company, live forever in a deluxe adult dorm. (WSJ) 

Elite golfers describe their experiences of being in the zone. (BPS) 

 

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