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"Vis Raghavan fell out with plenty of people at JPMorgan, but he was worth it"

Sometime this summer, bankers at Citi will have a new boss. Viswas (Vis) Raghavan, the former head of global investment banking at JPMorgan, is joining Citi as head of banking and executive vice chair, reporting directly to CEO Jane Fraser. 

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Depending upon who you talk to, his arrival could be a shock.

Raghavan spent nearly a quarter of a century at JPMorgan and was made CEO of the EMEA office in 2017. He has plenty of fans. He also has his enemies. The latter may be par for the course in senior levels of the banking industry, but Citi people may want to take note. 

Raghavan's detractors accuse him of being fiercely ambitious and highly political. The former accountant and Aston University graduate began his banking career at a disadvantage to elite university peers, but more than compensated with a fierce work ethic. In the process, he caught the eye of Daniel Pinto, JPMorgan's president, COO and former head of the corporate and investment bank. Insiders claim that Pinto promoted and protected Raghavan, despite Raghavan's sometimes "abrasive" style.

When Pinto ceded control of JPMorgan's investment bank to Jennifer Piepszak and Troy Rohrbaugh in January, Raghavan's detractors argue that he lost his primary supporter. In time, Piepszak and Rohrbaugh are likely to promote their own people: "They want a winning culture and to promote people who have traction with clients," argues one insider. According to this version of events, Raghavan left JPMorgan for Citi as a result.

JPMorgan and Citi declined to comment for this article. The vacancy Raghavan is filling at Citi has been open since last September, however, so his interest in it could easily have preceded JPMorgan's January shake-up. 

Raghavan also has defenders both at JPMorgan and elsewhere. While some JPMorgan insiders point to senior banker exits as evidence of Raghavan's alleged propensity for micromanagement and the promotion of his own clique, others point to the bank's success under his management. 

"I know plenty of people that Vis has fallen out with over the past decade, but you could say that about anyone at his level," says one managing director (MD) in JPMorgan's investment bank, who proclaims himself a Raghavan fan. "He increased the intensity of coverage and the winning mentality of this organization by several notches," the MD adds. "We wouldn’t have gone up in league tables and increased market share without him."

Raghavan's supporters say he's unusually rigorous, organized and focused. "I like him," says the MD. "He's not always the easiest. He's not afraid of a challenging conversation, but that doesn't matter if you don't mind being challenged."

JPMorgan's investment bank has experienced a cluster of senior-level exits in recent years, including the likes of David Lomer, the former co-head of M&A who went to ICG and Hugo Baring, the former head of TMT banking EMEA who went to PJT, both in 2022. We spoke to neither for this article, but one headhunter said Raghavan wasn't a factor in the moves. "People might not have got on particularly well with Vis, but no one left because of him. At that level in banking everyone is a type A personality. It goes with the territory and he's no worse than his peers."

The implications is, nonetheless, that Raghavan could shake things up at Citi, where market share in investment banking has fallen to a low of just 3.4%. This is undoubtedly what Jane Fraser is intending. The new regime is likely to see some exits. It could also see some entrances: JPM insiders say Raghavan built a large network of loyal acolytes at JPMorgan, and that some look exposed in his absence. 

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Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • J0
    J0c
    22 April 2024

    There's too many ED's and MD's there, which creates political cliques. It's kinda weird whereby it's not recognised that Directors in place with other Directors reporting into them.....but with what added value. Just do a 'Jane Fraser' and cut them out. Simple. Reduces the cliqueness

  • bi
    biton
    28 February 2024

    Raghavan spent nearly a quarter of a decade at JPMorgan.. so just under 2 6 months then.. he hardly got started

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