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Morning Coffee: How it is when you work for a bank that really cares about you. Senior bankers’ dispute prompts resignation

Working for Bear Stearns

A scene representative of daily life at Bear Stearns

Once upon a time, there was a bank that cared – really cared about its employees. A bank that was properly like a family, where everyone was kind and friendly and the camaraderie was intense. Well sort of. That bank was Bear Stearns.

To mark the 10 year anniversary of Bear’s passing, Financial News has spoken to some of the people who worked there. A decade later, they’re still pretty cut up.

“It felt like everyone’s effort mattered, from the junior analysts through to the senior executives,” says Louis P. Friedman, former chairman of global M&A at the bank. “It was probably the most rewarding eight years of my investment banking career. The leaders had an ability to cement everyone together. It was a close, personal relationship. You felt part of something.”

“Bear Stearns was a family to us — it wasn’t just a business,” says the former head of capital markets. “I thought my kids would work there.”

The Bear-Stearns-was-like-family meme has a history. People were saying it back in 2008. The big daddy was CEO Jimmy Cayne. People loved him, or at least he thought they did: “These people would jump off a cliff for me. That’s how I feel,” he’s quoted as saying in William Cohan’s  book House of Cards.  

It wasn’t all peace and lurrve at Bear though. As in all the best families, there had been a patriarchal feud. The Financial Times wrote in 2010 that Bear’s camaraderie was the product of its voluntary isolation: “Bear executives took pride in their exclusion from the club. They cared about money, particularly their own, and not the pretensions that accompanied wealth elsewhere on Wall Street.” More revealingly, Vanity Fair observed in 2008 that the sorts of people who worked for Bear Stearns were those who, “disdained secret handshakes and towel snapping in favor of an extended middle finger toward pretty much everyone.” To the extent that they cared, it was in this context.

Separately, there’s been an upset at SocGen. Didier Valet, the deputy chief executive and head of the corporate and investment bank, has resigned. Valet’s exit has something to do with a disagreement over SocGen’s LIBOR investigation.  Whatever the cause, it’s all a big sudden. Valet pushed SocGen’s growth in fixed income trading. His role has been assumed by chief executive Frédéric Oudéa.

Meanwhile

David Solomon wants to make Goldman Sachs hip like Virgin. (Business Insider) 

David Solomon’s alter-ego, ‘DJ D-Sol,’ has been hanging with celebrities at pool parties. (CNBC) 

Harvey Schwartz was not sufficiently at ease with soothing chief executives, journalists and outside directors. (Financial Times) 

Goldman accidentally revealed who donates to its philanthropy fund: tech billionaires. (Bloomberg) 

J.P. Morgan invested in a company whose technology uses algorithms to sift through data from fragmented fixed income markets and present the outcomes in a real-time customisable dashboard to help sales staff better visualise and anticipate client activity. (Finextra) 

J.P. Morgan banker who quit for the buy-side has returned to Citi. (Reuters) 

Gazprom is moving hundreds of London gas trading jobs from London to St. Petersburg. (Reuters) 

Swiss hedge fund cities are also known for their high cocaine intake. (Bloomberg)

Ex-Barclays bankers are worried about the bank’s share price and think the investment might be best divested. (Business Insider) 

Tidjane Thiam has no intention of moving on. (FiNews)

Chimpanzees with superior nut-cracking technologies will conceal their superiority just to fit in with a new group. (Science Direct) 


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