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Morning Coffee: Rare career advice from hedge fund and banking legends. The $3.3m trader and the tiny baseball bat

Career advice from the big animals

Career advice from the big animals

Senior financiers are optimists, at least in public. While commentators see chaos, they see pipelines, cycles and turnarounds on the horizon.

So, it’s no surprise that while consultants predict a relentless decline for investment banks, senior bankers and hedge fund managers still think that the financial sector is really the place to be.

In some (very) rare interviews with Financial News, Alan Howard, co-founder of hedge fund Brevan Howard, Samir Assaf, chief executive of HSBC’s investment bank and Xavier Rolet, senior investment banker turned CEO of the London Stock Exchange, imparted their career pearls of wisdom.

Investment banks may have shrunk “a bit”, they say (try, 21%), but asset management, private equity and hedge funds are bigger than ever. “So, there is no crisis in finance in the short-term,” said Assaf.

Rolet says that choosing a boss who is not “nice and soft”, but who will tell it like it is and get the best out of you is the most important decision of your life – this is more important than what you do or where you work, he said. Secondly, keep your head during a crisis because “when things go bad in finance, they go really, really bad”.  Finally, if you’re making investments, read the trading research. “Wait a couple of days and then do the opposite; and that is how you make money in this business.”

Howard says that finance will still offer a good career over the next 20 years, and the way to excel is to understand your strengths.

Assaf, meanwhile, says that finance still offers more jobs than technology or any other industries turning the heads of millennials. This doesn’t just mean front office jobs, nor does it mean that you’re going to retire before 30.

“When we compare the finance industry to any other industry – and I repeat any other industry – it is the industry that still pays, on the long term, the most, on average,” he said.

Separately, Jonathan Mathew, a former Barclays desk assistant who is accused of manipulating Libor with four other ex-employees, has made claims of more bullying at the investment bank. The Financial Times reports that he says his boss used to call him a “deaf git” and hit him on the back of the head with a 12-inch baseball bat.

Other traders said they were just following instructions and were close to burnout at during the two years to September 2007 when they were accused of rigging Libor. The most senior trader was Jay Merchant, who was paid £2.2m ($3.1m) in 2007, and has accused Barclays’ then investment banking boss, Eric Bommensath, of being complicit. The prosecution has denied this.

Meanwhile:

In its first week, 145 teams at UBS’s investment bank signed up to a new scheme that offers two hours of “personal time” every week (Reuters)

Goldman Sachs has been cutting investment bankers (Bloomberg)

Ben Melkman, a star portfolio manager and partner at Brevan Howard, is leaving to start his own hedge fund (Business Insider)

“It can be terrible for a company to try to act hip,” Mahon said. “We’re bankers. You don’t want to overplay your hand.” (Bloomberg)

J.P. Morgan’s Daniel Pinto says FICC cuts could be at an end (CNBC)

Daniel Tarullo, the man banks all fear has spoken: “I think it likely that firms are going to have to change in some cases their size, in some cases their business model, and in some cases their organization.” (WSJ)

1,250 jobs will go as the LSE and Deutsche Borse merge (BBC)

AOL is offering VC funding to its employees who want to launch a start-up, provided they don’t leave with it (Quartz)

Old Mutual’s CEO has a £900k salary, and a £9m bonus. Shareholders are not happy (Financial Times)

Photo: Pieter-Pieter/iStock/Thinkstock

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