The case of Tony Shiret, the veteran Credit Suisse equities analyst who has successfully sued the Swiss bank for age discrimination, comes with a 27 page court judgement which makes for fascinating reading if you’re a senior banker and you suspect there are people who are scheming to get rid of you – especially if those people are your juniors.
To recap, Shiret was made redundant from Credit Suisse in 2011. As we noted before, his departure appeared to have been hastened by the intervention of a junior team member Assad Malic, who joined Credit Suisse in 2006 straight from Imperial College, London. The court judgement offers considerably more detail on Malic’s role in Shiret’s demise. We’ve summarized the court’s findings below. Senior bankers can read them and lightly shudder.
Malic now works at Citigroup and didn’t return a request to comment for this article. Credit Suisse said it was, “disappointed by the decision” of the court.
1. The danger of mentoring an ambitious junior
While Shiret was at Credit Suisse, Malic was part of Shiret’s two person team covering the general retail sector. The court noted that Shiret had worked for Credit Suisse for eighteen years and was widely seen as an authority on the sector, regularly issuing accurate and well-respected notes on retail stocks. Malic had a decade’s less experience than Shiret and some of his stock calls went awry (for example, he produced a favourable analysis of Dixons and Halfords in 2010, both of which – the court noted – subsequently issued significant profit warnings.)
Part of Shiret’s role was therefore to mentor Malic (and his other team member) and to bring him on. However, Shiret’s work mentoring Malic was overlooked in the events that followed.
2. The danger of an ambitious junior with a young family to provide for
The court noted that Malic needed to earn more than he was making as a member of Shiret’s team at Credit Suisse. In early 2011, Malic had recently moved house. He also had a young family and ‘wanted to increase his earnings.’ Malic started applying for other banking jobs, but kindly let Shiret know what he was up to…
3. The danger of an ambitious junior with a rival job offer
Ultimately, Malic received a job offer from a bank which the court referred to as ‘Berinberger’ (but which we suspect was probably Berenberg – the German bank which has been building its equity research team in London).
Malic’s putative job at ‘Berinberger’ offered him ‘significantly more’ than his existing job at Credit Suisse. However, rather than moving directly to ‘Berinberger’, the court said Malic promptly emailed Steven East, co-head of pan European equities at Credit Suisse, to request an ‘important chat.’
At this chat, Malic seems to have raised the prospect of staying at Credit Suisse if the bank matched his new offer. East reassured Malic that lead analysts at Credit Suisse were paid an amount comparable to the Berinberger sum. The court concluded that East was tacitly telling Malic that Shiret (the lead analyst) might be dismissed and he could get a raise.
4. The danger of an ambitious junior who says he can’t work with you
The final nail in Shiret’s coffin seems to have been the fact that Malic declared that he couldn’t work Shiret for another year. “No way Assad will stay if he has to do another year with Tony,” Steven East said in an email to Charlie Mills.
Shiret’s reputation for difficult behaviour at Credit Suisse stemmed from a disagreement with his secretary in 2010. Credit Suisse said that Shiret was ‘challenging and difficult.’ Malic had also said he wanted ‘more autonomy’ from Shiret. However, the court found that Shiret’s behaviour wasn’t out of keeping with the rest of the industry and Shiret wasn’t found to have behaved unacceptably towards Malic. Nonetheless, Malic’s refusal to work with his boss seems to have been a deciding factor in Shiret’s departure.
5. The danger of a bank which decides it wants to get rid of you and tries to fit a process around it
Having decided that Shiret had to go, partly to accommodate Malic’s refusal to work with him and need for more money, the court said that Credit Suisse tried to fit a redundancy selection process around its decision. On March 30th, Steven East sent an email saying that Shiret was one of the researchers he wanted to get rid of. On April 1st, Credit Suisse then emailed employees to tell them the criteria it would use to select people for redundancy (even though Shiret was already selected).
The appraisals for Shiret and Malic are embedded below. Shiret was dumped. Malic stayed on. Ironically, having helped dispense with Shiret, Malic left Credit Suisse a year later and now works as a director in equity research at Citigroup instead.