Morning Coffee: The bank whose top compliance professionals are accused of harassment. How banks learned to do without employees

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Standard Chartered culture

The culture at Standard Chartered is all kinds of toxic

For a bank, it's hard to imagine a more damning indictment of internal culture than having the compliance professionals who are supposed to police conduct themselves accused of acting inappropriately. This is what's transpired at Standard Chartered.

Bloomberg reports that some of Standard Chartered's most senior male compliance staff have been accused of behaving badly and of sexually harassing colleagues. Bloomberg says their actions reflect a "toxic work culture" that ex-J.P. Morgan CEO Bill Winters is trying - and so far failing - to fix.

The compliance accusations relate to Neil Barry, Standard Chartered's global head of compliance, and to Matt Chapman, its global head of anti-bribery and corruption. Barry allegedly made inappropriate comments to colleagues, including approaching a woman sitting with a male colleague in a canteen and saying she belonged to him before questioning her companion's sexuality. Chapman was investigated for altering the performance review of a woman he was having an affair with, and left the bank last year.

Bloomberg says the compliance infringements are part of a broader cultural problem at Standard Charted which includes excessive expense spending on things like karaoke nights, and bullying, racism and verbal abuse in the private bank.

Winters is doing his best to clean things up. Since April 2016, Bloomberg reports that he's been sending a relentless battery of memos invoking staff to create a safe environment for colleagues with the hashtag #knowtherules. The bank's general counsel has also set up a team comprised of former spies, FBI detectives, regulators and compliance officers to identify colleagues who are behaving poorly. However, this team itself has proven controversial following accusations that it exaggerated evidence, mislead witnesses and improperly documented interviews. Some employees investigated by the team have been dismissed and deprived of deferred bonuses, only to overturn the rulings following further investigations.

Separately, the Financial Times has been looking at how banks have fared since the financial crisis. The good news is that profitability has recovered. - The FT found that profits at nine of the 10 top banks were $78.4bn in 2017 compared to $75.4bn in 2007. The bad news is that banks are making these profits with 60,000 fewer staff than previously. - Since the crisis they have learned to do with far fewer human beings.

In a piece on the same topic, the FT tracks the diminution of Deutsche Bank. While the German bank was ranked second by Coalition for all its investment banking activities in 2007, it came sixth last year. Barclays too has failed to retain the advantages incurred by acquiring Lehman (it went from 10th in 2007, to 3rd in 2008 to 7th in 2017). The big winners of the post-crisis decade have been J.P. Morgan and Citi, who went from fifth and fourth to first and second respectively.

Meanwhile:

Barclays is thought to have hired Matthew Cousens, co-head of sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Credit Suisse’s algorithmic trading arm. (Financial News) 

Commerzbank deal: "Going forward, we view this deal one of the only ways to save Deutsche Bank.” (Bloomberg) 

Executive coaching company used by Deutsche Bank is being floated for £140m ($188m). (Sunday Times) 

How to have a full time job and become an internet millionaire at the same time, by an ex-employee at Tesla. (Bloomberg) 

I was gaslighted in the office. (Medium)

People are urging Lloyd Blankfein to become mayor of New York. He is flattered, but uninterested. (WSJ) 

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