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Morning Coffee: Goldman Sachs M&A associate says she quit after seeing a sad MD eating a burger alone. French bankers are getting worried

There are many catalysts for leaving a banking career, most of which involve working hours and bonuses that don't compensate for the toil. But there is also the revelation that even if you stick with the grind and climb the pole, your life may not be the best.

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Gina Farran says she had this epiphany as a senior associate at Goldman Sachs in London. It was 2019, the year before the pandemic, and Farran who studied at HEC in Paris and began her career as an intern at Rothschild in 2014, was still in the office at midnight. She tells the Times that she "glanced over" to see a managing director (MD) in his office.  There, he was eating, “this depressing-looking burger, from the canteen downstairs, on his own," recalls Farran. "His family didn’t even live in the UK, and I just looked at him and was like, ‘This is so uninspiring. If this is what it looks like 15 years into the journey, then it’s just not worth it.’”

Such revelations are not unusual.  Former Morgan Stanley analyst Florian Koelliker discovered that junior bankers were discouraged by the sight of senior bankers when he wrote a dissertation on the industry in 2021. Senior bankers aren't always good role models, said Koelliker's junior interviewees: too many had neglected their private lives due to their "massive workload." Similarly, Nickyl Raithatha, a former Goldman Sachs vice president in the principal strategies division, said he left after attending a leaving party for a partner where the partner revealed that he'd worked 26 years at the firm and never had more than two weeks' consecutive holiday. “By every external metric, he is one of the most successful people I still know. But it really hit me - that’s not the life I want to lead,” Raithatha declared. 

Raithatha left Goldman for a multistrategy hedge fund, where he presumably thought people take long holidays all the time. He's now CEO of Moonpig, a website selling personalized greeting cards. Farran left Goldman for a venture capital firm. She's now CEO of Glaize, a company that makes gel manicures easier. She says she's been,  “working harder for a lot less money” than she made at Goldman Sachs and that in the early days she developed hives and suffered from insomnia: “I’m usually a great sleeper, but I couldn’t sleep because of anxiety for months and months."

Separately, while some French bankers are adamant that the coming French parliamentary elections are not a threat to the new status of Paris as a financial centre, others are not so sure. They have been fretting to Bloomberg. 

If either the far right or the far left gain power in France, Goldman Sachs thinks they're likely to implement a wealth tax. If a left wing coalition gets in, there's also likely to be a transaction tax. French headhunter Stephane Rambosson says: “If one of the extremes wins in the election, then it’s going to have an impact. It’s pretty binary.” 

Frankfurt stands to gain, as does London. Hubertus Vaeth, managing director of Frankfurt Main Finance, a lobby group that promotes Frankfurt as a financial centre, suggests expat bankers in Paris might lose their tax advantages: “Tax holidays and other perks to get banks and bankers to move to Paris were orchestrated by Macron. That will no longer work with Le Pen’s approach of appealing to blue-collar workers. Incentives that were temporary, such as individual tax advantages, will likely not be extended.”


AXA Investment Managers cut its exposure to French banking stocks. (Bloomberg) 

JPMorgan bankers like the fact that their bonuses might rise while their salaries stay the same. "“This is the best of both worlds. It’s not like many people have been hitting the cap anyway. But removing fixed pay affects mortgages, school fees and a whole range of other costs that salary alone does not cover.” (Financial News) 

Deutsche Bank's private bank has cut its spending on consultants by 70%. Its CEO says working with external consultants "can be seen as an easy way out. - If you have a problem, call a consultant who will fix it for you.” “We need to bring our expert knowledge . . . to fix our recurring problems ourselves.” (Financial Times)  

KPMG is cutting another 200 jobs. “Like the rest of our sector, we are still operating in challenging market conditions, which is why we have made the difficult decision to consult on proposals to reduce our cost base.” (Financial Times)

Lazard might buy a private credit firm.. “We’re going to be very cautious as we go through this, both on the pricing — to make sure it’s in shareholders’ interest to do some of these acquisitions — but also on culture. Because you can get something at the right price and, if there’s not a good cultural fit, it still doesn’t work.” (Bloomberg) 

Morgan Stanley might want to hire some more bankers in Latin America, where it already has 400 people. (Bloomberg) 

Revolut wants to float for $40bn, which is more than the $33bn it wanted to float for a few years ago. (Financial Times) 

It's another good time to work for a crypto firm. Prices on secondaries — shares or tokens held by former or current employees or early investors — have increased.  Kraken is up 77% year-to-date, Ripple has seen a 13% appreciation, and blockchain forensics provider Chainalysis is up 17%. (Bloomberg) 

Multistrategy hedge funds are increasingly training their own juniors, including former baseball stars. (Bloomberg) 

It helps to be a personality hire. "I bring the vibes. I'm always looking to have a good time." (WSJ) 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: +44 7537 182250 (SMS, WhatsApp or voicemail). Telegram: @SarahButcher. Click here to fill in our anonymous form, or email Signal also available.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • CP
    22 June 2024

    Maybe he just wants to enjoy his me-time. I sometimes do that too. When you're lunching with your colleagues, you are still at work, a lunch break should be dedicated to your own healing and recuperation

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