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Morning Coffee: When client entertainment gets out of control. The boring location for boring bankers

Men drinking whiskey, close up of glasses and hands

Technology might be wiping out human traders and sales roles in investment banks are increasingly under threat, for the latest generation of financial services removing the need to entertain clients could spare a whole lot of heartache. 2,000 of the 400,000 people working in the City of London are functioning alcoholics, and it’s safe to say that this figure would have been far higher during the pre-crisis days of boozy lunches and expensive client entertainment.

Financial News has spoken to Lee Rolleston, a former Deutsche Bank trader, whose job in the City led to him becoming an alcoholic. Rolleston claims he was encouraged to “spend more” on client entertainment, which invariably involved drinking. “I was probably spending two to three times what I earned a month on expenses,” he says.   

By the time he joined Deutsche Bank as a senior trader after years in the City, Rolleston said that he was a “functioning: alcoholic. “I was holding down a job, earning and spending good money. I had just got married and started a family. There was more pressure in that job than in my previous role. I felt out of my depth at times, and that led to me drinking more.”

But he was made redundant by Deutsche by 2004 and then returned to a Swiss brokerage with a renowned drinking culture. This is when his drinking really became a problem.

“The turning point came the day after a US national holiday,” he told Financial News. “We had been out all day and all evening – I always organised to go drinking when the US markets were closed. I woke up on Tuesday morning and could barely do my shirt up as I had such bad shakes and sweats. I was clearly still over the limit but got in the car. I was fortunate. The petrol light was on, so I drove to the garage and blacked out on the forecourt.”

Rolleston said that he considered suicide, but sought help at the right time by calling Alcoholics Anonymous. Part of the problem recovering, said Rolleston, was that his colleagues in the City were far from supportive – saying things like “we’ll soon get you drinking again” – largely because they drank as much, if not more, than him. The City of London has at least acknowledged the issue, and has set up a support group in partnership with WDP, a support group for substance misuse.

Separately, Frankfurt is emerging as the location of choice for banks shifting jobs out of London after Brexit, reviving its ambition to rival the City as the major financial centre in Europe. Except, Bloomberg suggest the whole thing may be overblown. Frankfurt is likely to get just 5,000 jobs because of Brexit, which will hardly make a dent, according to the Association of Foreign Banks in Germany. Frankfurt might receive a few hundred jobs from each bank, but it doesn’t have the depth necessary to rival London, with insurance, reinsurance, asset management, legal services, trade finance and the like, according to Michael Mainelli, co-founder of Z/Yen Group, the think tank that compiles the financial centres index.

Paris continues to tout its cultural heritage over the conservative credentials of Frankfurt, but Mainelli doesn’t think this will be an issue. “Frankfurt isn’t a bad place to live,” he said. “It’s a bit boring, a bit dull. But then, so are many bankers.”

Meanwhile: 

Peter Hancock, a former J.P. Morgan banker and boss of American International Group, is in the frame to be the new HSBC CEO (Bloomberg)

He’s a “detail-oriented, organised and sometimes abstract” operator (Financial News)

Deutsche Bank employees don’t dislike working for the bank any more than they did last year (Bloomberg)

Henry Richotte, the former COO of Deutsche Bank, has invested £500k of his own money in a mortgage robo-adviser (Finextra)

PwC has been bumping up its partner numbers (London Loves Business)

Hedge fund Saba Capital, which has three employees in London, is closing its UK office (Reuters)

“Just as eBay revolutionised retail purchasing by bringing buyers and sellers together directly, we aim to do the same for the physical commodity producers.” (Financial Times)

“My message [to middle-sized banks] would be very clear: speed up. Make up your mind and contact us early so that we can have a discussion about your plans, about the expectations on both sides. (Financial Times)

Paris is set to pitch to banks in the UK within the “next few days” (Telegraph)

Banker exodus could crash the London property market (Business Insider)

Win a £1m London apartment for a fiver (Mirror)

Contact: pclarke@efinancialcareers.com

Image: Getty Images

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