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Morning Coffee: How investment bankers handle the trauma of being fired. Can Jes Staley survive?

Unrecognizable sad woman holding torn picture of couple in love.

Investment bankers, unless they’re very lucky, will at some point their career be fired. Banks clear out under-performers every year, juniors can lose their jobs in the first year, or even the first few months, and veterans in the industry accept it as a fact of life.

In a 2015 study Money Matters; Teflonic Identity Manoeuvring in the Investment Banking Sector’ by Maxine Robertson at Queen Mary University in London and Mats Alvesson from Lund University, Sweden, hardened investment bankers outlined their coping techniques – complete shut-down of emotions. “They literally don’t have a self—it is bypassed, put to one side,” said the report.

And as much as banks want to create a warm and fussy culture, bankers generally just don’t care. “Being loyal to the bank would be a stupid thing. Being loyal to your colleagues is fine. Being loyal to the bank is something you learn not to be,” said John, an investment banker with 20 years’ experience in the study.

But maybe they’re protesting too much. Getting fired one of the most psychologically damaging things that can happen to you. It’s worse than getting divorced. It takes longer to get over than bereavement, according to Bloomberg.

“After someone loses a partner, [well-being will] take a big dip and then, on average, it’ll get back to previous levels,” Tricia Curmi of the What Works Center for Wellbeing told Bloomberg. “But with unemployment, we just don’t see that happening.”

It’s all about losing status, losing and having “meaning in your life” and the hole in your resume is hard to brush over. Maybe finance professionals are more pragmatic. None of the interviewees in the 2015 ever felt “upset, happy, humiliated, perturbed”.

Separately, are things about to get worse for Jes Staley? The fragile recovery of his reputation after the whisteblowing scandal has yet to really be swept under the carpet. Staley’s slap on the wrist for striving to unveil the identity of a Barclays whistleblower is to potentially lose his entire $1.7m 2016 bonus. For now. Influential proxy Institutional Shareholder Services Inc has told shareholders not to re-elect Staley until the regulators have approved their investigation into his involvement with the case (right now, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority are looking into it, but New York’s Department of Financial Services could get involved). Those who don’t have to vote should abstain, it says, whereas those required to vote for or against should chose not re-elect him, it recommends.

Meanwhile: 

Deutsche Bank relocating 4,000 jobs is just one scenario, says CFO Marcus Schenck, but it could move more or decide it wants to move more. But it’s likely to take “at least a year” (Bloomberg)

Nomura is going to Frankfurt…or Munich (Bloomberg)

J.P. Morgan is hiring in Poland (Reuters)

Don’t under-estimate losing clearing from the UK: “The ramifications are really quite alarming. Because the only way they could repatriate euro clearing from the UK into the eurozone is by effectively banning, or making it profoundly difficult for, eurozone institutions to access to euro clearing in London.” (Business Insider)

New York could have its own banking culture report (Financial Times)

Bankers are using the Trump rally to cash in their shares (WSJ)

Alantra – the small investment bank that only does small deals – is moving up the rankings (Yahoo)

“We’re using a lot of expensive, additional capital to do what we were doing before. We don’t get credit for having that much capital in the form of a lower cost of capital, and we compete with outside players, businesses that don’t have to have that cushion. It’s not an easy thing to handle.” (Financial News)

Ray Dalio loves brutal honesty (LinkedIn)

Contact: pclarke@efinancialcareers.com

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