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Morning Coffee: Banker’s back to work breakdown. Redundancy whispers at Barclays.

Purpose of working in banking

If you took some time off work over Christmas and New Year and recently came back again, you might be feeling the ‘transition.’ That hiatus may have given you cause to reflect and to ponder upon the big questions in life. Now, imagine you were off for six months, and you had a brush with death during that time.

This was the experience of Inigo Fraser-Jenkins, an ex-Lehman Brothers and Nomura banker who’s global head of quantitative strategy and European equity strategy MD at Bernstein Research. Fraser-Jenkins reportedly just returned to work after six months out receiving chemotherapy and radiation for cancer of the lymphatic system. Now he’s back, and he has a few issues.

Those issues are expressed in a 4,000 word note to clients questioning the purpose of his job, how finance creates inequality, and whether his is an industry with a future.

“In this industry, we all spend an awful lot of time staring at spreadsheets scrolled across screens or endure wasted evenings sitting exhausted in departure lounges at random airports,” observes Fraser-Jenkins. “One can do that for years of course and even though it is a cliché to say it, a profoundly personal shock is often needed to make one assess whether one on balance actually enjoys doing it.” He comments too that people in finance need to recognize the changed social and political climate and to accept that their share of wages has expanded vastly [and possibly unsustainably]. And that artificial intelligence might displace analysts who currently build financial models in Excel.

Ultimately, though, Fraser-Jenkins overcomes his return-to-work crisis and suggests finance jobs are worth it. He suggests that capital allocation – choosing the most valid use of accumulated money – can have a social function if done right. He also suggest that finance employees have a future in trying to offset systemic threats and bubbles. So that’s ok then – but it was a close run thing.

Separately, despite that bullish strategy presentation from Barclays’ investment bank CEO Tim Throsby last September, the Financial Times says there are mutterings about “significant cuts” at the bank in the weeks to come. The whispers follow a report in November that Barclays is planning to cut bonuses for half its bankers this year and claims that fewer than expected people have left the British bank because it’s seen as a way of staying in London after Brexit. The return on equity at Barclays’ investment bank was just 5.9% in the third quarter – well below its cost of capital.


Maybe only 5,000 London financial services jobs will be lost because of Brexit. (Reuters) 

U.S. banks, including Goldman Sachs, are meeting British prime minister Theresa May to discuss Brexit on Thursday. (Irish Independent) 

Frankfurt fancy apartments are in short supply: the Grand Tower near the Messeturm, which is still under construction, is almost sold out: 401 of the 412  apartments have gone. (FAZ) 

Lazard keeps hiring senior M&A bankers in Paris. (Reuters) 

Average pay fell 30% at hedge fund Lansdowne Partners in the year ending March 2017. (Financial News)  

LIBOR trader didn’t understand LIBOR. (Bloomberg) 

Hedge fund hires career change poker player for trading research and strategy. (Bloomberg) 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com
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