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Morning Coffee: ‘Absurdly competitive’ banker made to sleep 16 hours a night. New man to know at J.P. Morgan

stress in banking

How competitive are you? If you passed an exam with a mark that was, “incredible”, would you take that exam again just to get the highest score ever? If you broke your right wrist and still wanted to play tennis, would you learn to play with your left?  Would you scuba dive with sharks to compete with death?

If so, you’re not unlike Antonio Horta Osório, the Portuguese boss of Lloyds Banking Group. Known for being competitive to an absurd extent, the Times details how Horta Osório’s relentless drive nearly got the better of him.

The issue was sleep, or rather the lack of it. After taking over at Lloyds in 2011, Horta Osório became obsessed with turning the bank around. Instead of sleeping,  he would ruminate about Lloyds: “Going around in loops, thinking about the problems.” On family holidays he couldn’t switch off: “I felt enormous guilt at taking two weeks off and I didn’t enjoy them. I was constantly thinking about…the share prices that were fluctuating, and so even on holiday I wasn’t sleeping.”

The lack of sleep started to get the better of him. He became anxious and disassociated. He couldn’t speak properly. He couldn’t play tennis properly. “You wake up very, very tired and you have to go to work and when you go back home at night you already know that you are not going to be able to sleep properly. It becomes a vicious cycle and I did not solve it.”

Things came to a head when Horta Osório didn’t sleep at all for five days straight. On the brink of mental and physical exhaustion, he was admitted to the Priory clinic, dosed with sleeping tablets and compelled to sleep for 16 hours for nine full days.

This was the start of the recovery. Nowadays, Horta Osório goes to bed at 10.30pm, doesn’t read emails between 7pm and 7am, mostly eats protein, and accepts his own limitations. “It showed me I was not Superman. And I became a better person, more patient more understanding, more considerate. It was humbling, but you learn.”

Separately, J.P. Morgan has got yet another person dealing with technological innovation in the bank. As we reported last week, CIB CEO Daniel Pinto is now focused on technological change and has appointed David Hudson to come up with Google-style “moonshots.” Now Business Insider reports that  Samik Chandarana, a former credit trader and J.P. Morgan veteran, has been tasked with developing the bank’s data and machine learning strategies.

Meanwhile:

Goldman Sachs has already paid “dozens” of Frankfurt schools fees costing €22k per student to ensure its employees’ children can be schooled in Germany from September 2018. (The Times) 

RBS chairman says that unless the British government has something to show for its Brexit plans by the first quarter of 2018, banks will start activating their contingency plans. (Bloomberg)

Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan and Deutsche chairman Paul Achleitner disagree on how to treat Deutsche’s biggest shareholder – the Chinese conglomerate HNA. Cryan suggests HNA’s investment is speculative and could be bad for the bank. (WSJ) 

Citi wants to set up an onshore cash equities business in China and might hire 10 people. (Reuters) 

It’s a bad time for British private equity jobs: no one wants to buy UK companies any more. (Guardian) 

If you make more than $75,000 a year you’re more likely to take public transportation to work than people with lower incomes. (Bloomberg) 

A Japanese woman died after working 150 hours of overtime in a month. (Guardian) 

A former broker at Piper Jaffray who was forced to retire aged 42 because of chronic fatigue syndrome is fighting at claim from his insurer claiming he’s a “skiver”. If he succeeds, he could receive £2.4m to see him through to retirement. (The Sun)  

Another long list of exceptional bankers under 35 whose achievements may make you feel inadequate. (Business Insider) 

The curious website of some German tax lawyers. (Roll on Friday) 


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

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