Morning Coffee: Goldman Sachs analyst leaves at 31, sues firm for potential lifetime earnings. More stock buyback drama

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Morning Coffee: Goldman Sachs analyst leaves at 31, sues firm for potential lifetime earnings. More stock buyback drama

A former Goldman Sachs analyst who resigned from his $65k job is suing the bank for as much as $14.9 million due to the firm’s “stubborn refusal” to help him perform better while dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he claims. Kwasi Afrifa has accused Goldman Sachs in a London employment tribunal of constructive dismissal on the grounds of disability, according to Bloomberg. The bank has vehemently denied the claims.

Afrifa’s managers repeatedly told him to pay better attention to detail, all while castigating the securities analyst for refusing to do menial tasks, being late and failing to proofread documents and complete work on time, among other complaints, Goldman lawyers say. Afrifa claims these issues were caused by his ADHD. He was placed on sick leave in January of 2017 due to insomnia after receiving a negative review and no bonus, according to Financial News. He said he later came to the bank with suggestions aimed at improving his performance, including the use of a transcription service, but claims his ideas were rejected by managers. Goldman said it “had no duty to run experiments.”

Afrifa resigned in May of 2018. At the time he cited the bank’s “stubborn refusal to engage with [his] needs,” claiming the actions prohibited him from a potential career as a hedge fund or asset manager who could retire at age 45 with nearly $15 million in earnings.  Lawyers for Goldman Sachs didn’t pull any punches in their response.

Afrifa had “a completely negligible chance of being the kind of person who retires at 45 having amassed [such earnings], Goldman attorney James Laddie said. There was “nothing to suggest that you are such an exceptional person.” (Damn...)

The bank’s lawyers claimed Afrifa was a “serial underperformer” whose issues at work stemmed from “underlying personality factors,” not ADHD. They said he would have been terminated by early 2019 at the latest if he didn’t resign. Afrifa is seeking the biggest payout ever by a U.K. employment tribunal – three times the current record.

Elsewhere, the largest banks in the U.S. decreased their tax bills last year by $21 billion – double the annual budget of the IRS and equal to that of NASA’s 2019 request, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, the 23 lenders combined to cut roughly 4,300 jobs in 2018. Where did all the money go? The banks increased dividends and stock buybacks by $28 billion last year, well more than the amount they saved in taxes. Reallocating profits through share buybacks has become a hot-button topic among democratic leaders of late, particularly after former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein fanned the fire with a snarky tweet that put Senator Bernie Sanders in a bit of a pretzel.

Meanwhile:

Goldman Sachs appears to be on an island when it comes to squeezing its FICC business. Executives at every other bank with a large fixed income presence see 2018 as an anomaly and won’t be making any big changes in strategy. (FT)

BB&T has agreed to purchase fellow regional U.S. bank SunTrust for roughly $28 billion in stock, marking the biggest bank merger since the financial crisis. Analysts expect more large financial mergers to follow. (Reuters)

ING took a risk by sticking by its plan to centralize its trading hub in London. The decision was made before the U.K. voted to leave the EU, but traders didn’t actually make the move until after the vote. Now the Amsterdam-based bank may be forced to relocate dozens of employees back to continental Europe with Brexit fast approaching. (Bloomberg)

While London may be losing banking and trading jobs to cities in the EU, the U.K. capital is the top destination for tech talent in all of Europe, well ahead of Paris and Amsterdam. (London & Partners)

Greenwich, Connecticut, the epitome of the Gold Coast and the de facto capital of the hedge fund industry, has quietly become a much more diverse town. Most residents seem pleased with the change. Other “older homeowners” are complaining that affluent minorities new to the neighborhood act like “they own the f*****g place.” (Ozy)

Deutsche Bank is moving its fixed-income and currencies trading businesses back to Brazil just a year after pulling the plug on the operation. Some bankers and traders from New York will relocate to Sao Paulo, though 20 to 30 middle and back-office jobs in Brazil will be moved to Jacksonville, Florida over the next 18 months. (Bloomberg)

A former Barclays executive facing fraud charges related to the financial crisis purposefully showed up an hour late to a meeting with the then-prime minister of Qatar and pretended to be busy so as not to appear desperate for a $2.6 billion investment that saved the firm from a government bailout. While playing possum seemed to work, Roger Jenkins and four other former Barclays executives were charged with conspiring to defraud investors by allegedly not disclosing $417 million in secret fees paid to the Qataris. (Bloomberg)

Hedge funds in January posted their first monthly gains since July. Six of seven main trading strategies made money, with funds focused on managed futures being the only loser. (Bloomberg)

Dedicating time to a hobby will make you a better, more creative and more confident employee. Actually being good at the hobby likely helps with the last part. (HBR)

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