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Morning Coffee: Bankers threaten to quit post-bonus as WFH dwindles. Rise of the grey hatchet men

Are markets professionals still working from home? It's news to us, given that even during the pandemic many traders were in the office, but it seems that protracted remote labour has been happening on the trading floor at Bank of America. However, it's pretty much over now, and people at the bank aren't exactly in raptures about it. 

Instagram account Litquidity reported yesterday that BofA's Markets business will begin enforcing a policy whereby people can only work from home two days each month, starting from today. Bloomberg confirmed the change: equities and fixed income traders at BofA (and presumably their support staff) have been informed that two days a month at home are their new max. It's all part of a policy to restore pre-pandemic culture and is the result of a survey 'sent across the company.'

The implication is that the survey said people want to work in the office, but the change doesn't seem popular. The person who leaked the story to Litquidity says the new policy is causing "massive discontent," that "most people are very unhappy," and that there's "talk of moving elsewhere post bonus."

These may be the gripes of an individual or two, but BofA may want to tread carefully. The bank was at the centre of numerous complaints about its work from home policies during the pandemic, and eventually relented and allowed employees to work remotely in March 2020 after a backlash. Fabrizio Gallo, the now departed head of equities trading, famously held a conference call in which he said traders had to come into the office even if they had underlying health issues. 

That BofA now feels able to rein back its work from home perks is a sign of the changing times. Most US banks already have their traders back in the office, so BofA traders who fervently want to trade at the kitchen table may struggle to find alternatives. However, in a year when BofA may not pay its traders very generously, despite a strong third quarter, upsetting them with in-office work could prove an own-goal. Every extra day at home probably enables at least a $10k cut on the bonus.

Separately, with skies darkening in the financial services industry, a new sort of person is needed. - A numbers person with a sharp knife. 

At Goldman Sachs, this person appears to be 52-year-old Marc Nachmann, whom the Financial Times says doesn't have a Rolodex of contacts, or much trading prowess, but who does have a reputation as 'a demanding behind-the-scenes operations manager who takes a tough approach to costs,' and who is CEO David Solomon's fixer. Nachmann has been given the tax of fixing the asset and wealth management division, which includes Goldman's problem retail bank, Marcus. 

Credit Suisse has its own pallid killer. The Telegraph reports that Ulrich Koerner, the Swiss bank's bespectacled chief executive, is in fact known as “Uli the knife” after a period at UBS where he "ruled with an iron fist." 

Koerner's knife-skills will be much in evidence in the coming months. At other banks, the quiet killers are still waiting in the shadows. 

Meanwhile...

By his own admission, Brian Armstrong CEO of Coinbase, probably has Aspergers and can be a bit difficult to work for. But he's dedicated to self-improvement and reads a lot of business books, so it's all ok. (Fortune) 

Electronic trading is reaching record levels, particularly for investment grade bonds, and that's a good thing for liquidity. (Bloomberg) 

The struggle to get ahead and yet still have a life is real. “If you’re not integrating your life along the way, you kind of have an identity crisis later. Would it have been that awful if we had taken a little time? Would we have completely taken a step back? I don’t think so. But that was a bet that we weren’t going to take.” (WSJ) 

The etiquette of becoming a Goldman partner. Current partners must not congratulate new partners immediately - they have to wait until the full list is out.  (Business Insider) 

It's not easy being a mother and a venture capitalist. "You're always on call in a sense. It's just like being a parent." (Business Insider) 

Observations on Ocado from a Morgan Stanley analyst who thinks the online retailer is spending too much trying to get his custom: "During my first order I may have been eligible to apply a ‘£20 off my first £60 spend’ or make use of the refer-a-friend offer that would have entitled me to a £25 gift bundle. Forgetting both, I had little in the way of discounts on my first two orders. By order 3, I was given a free Hotel Chocolat ‘Everything H’ selection of chocolates worth £14.50 and a free tote bag worth £2.50, equating to 13% in value of the size of the basket. . . . " (Alphaville) 

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Photo by takahiro taguchi on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
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  • fi
    fitgirl
    5 November 2022

    The grammatical errors ruined this article for me.

  • An
    Anonymous
    2 November 2022

    Or a father and a venture capitalist!

  • An
    Anonymous
    1 November 2022

    And hatchet women!

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