Morning Coffee: Banks inch towards Big Brother. The Goldman Sachs odd couple

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Montage of man, microchip and bank of compute monitors

Call it efficiency, cost-cutting or a gradual shift towards the nanny state in investment banks, but more institutions are using devices to keep tabs on their employees. Matthew Westerman, the head of HSBC's global banking division reportedly introduced a system last year that tracks how its bankers use their time and how many deals they bring in. Barclays has installed heat and motion detecting sensors below bankers’ desks to see how much time they spend at their work stations. Now, Credit Suisse is getting in on the act.

Well, sort of. Credit Suisse's fintech investment fund has just put money into Sapience Analytics, a “People Analytics solutions company” which “delivers unprecedented visibility into work patterns and behaviour in an organisation”, according to the FT. In other words, technology that tracks how you spend your time at work - all of which is a little Orwellian.

Like Barclays, which said that the desk monitors were installed to make "informed decisions about how we can use our workspace more effectively" rather than monitoring its employees, Credit Suisse has said that it's not using the new investment to keep tabs on its staff. Credit Suisse portfolio manager Greg Grimaldi and senior advisor Frank Fanzilli are joining the company's board, but people familiar with the bank's plans told the FT that there are "no plans" for Credit Suisse's employees to use Sapience's tools. But, third parties who work for the bank will start using them.

Separately, ex-Goldman Sachs bankers Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin have been holed up together trying to come up with a politically difficult and technically demanding overhaul of the U.S. tax system that was central to President Trump's campaign, according to the New York Times. Goldman insiders told the Times that the two men are more used to competing with one another than cooperating, but - according to CEO Lloyd Blankfein - this is what Goldman is all about.

“Goldman has thrived by hiring strong individuals with very different backgrounds and putting them together on a team,” he emailed the Times. “Gary and Steven are both steeped in that tradition from their years working side by side on the trading floor — not a bad training ground for the pressure cooker that is Washington.”

Cohn reportedly wears "monogrammed shirts, gold cuff links and a Rolex watch next to a brown leather bracelet with a 'peace' tag and a black beaded one with silver skulls", and is known for a brash, direct style surrounding himself with connected aides, and his refusal to pay political games. Mnuchin, meanwhile, is better known for his slim cut business suits, analytical style, and for talking up his personal connections with Trump.

“They are working together,” Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation economist who advised Mr. Trump during the campaign, told the Times. “But there’s no question they’re competitors.”

Meanwhile: 

The European Investment Bank has been accused of being something of an old boys' network (Politico)

Dutch bank Rabobank is building its advisory team in London (Financial News)

Pimco has shaved off £20m from its 'special bonus' pot introduced for staff after the departure of Bill Gross in 2014 (Financial News)

Hedge funds are embracing a brave new era of third-party data sources to gain a trading edge. Lawyers are wary (Financial Times)

If you're self-aware, you're more likely to be successful (WSJ)

The Financial Conduct Authority has rolled out some cheesy ads featuring a prosthetic Arnold Schwarzenegger head to promote the final deadline for PPI claims (Bloomberg)

Contact: pclarke@efinancialcareers.com

Image: Getty Images

 

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