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Morning Coffee: Bank accused of retracting graduate offers at last moment. Goldman Sachs is looking for the Peaky Blinders of crypto

As an Irish road safety campaign once put it, “The faster the speed, the bigger the mess”.  Fintechs, challenger banks and crypto exchanges have spent most of the last decade in hyper-growth mode, recruiting rapidly from both technology and finance.  But if you’ve built your planning around a norm of exponential growth, then the shock when you need to stop and change direction can be jarring.  Revolut is the latest high-growth company to have to try to make the shift as gracefully as possible.

The most controversial aspect of Revolut's new “Project Prism” initiative, appears to be that some people who thought they were going to Revolut have had job offers pulled at short notice.  In one case, someone claimed on LinkedIn that they had been given a company laptop and were due to start work in a few days.  The candidates concerned were all new graduates, which means it isn’t quite as bad a situation as when Coinbase rescinded offers after people had resigned from other jobs.  But it’s unlikely that the young people affected will be comforted by this; apparently one of them had signed a two-year rental contract.

This sort of thing can really damage an employer brand, and Revolut seems to realise this; they’re doing what they can to avoid making a bad situation worse, providing a month’s salary and the kind of outplacement and interview prep services that big banks usually offer when they make redundancies.  Since they’re still hiring overall, with 200 vacancies currently open and another 300 coming every month, they don’t want get a bad reputation.

And it does seem that the unlikely few graduates were in a slightly sui generis situation.  According to Revolut, they were all being hired into “one specific team”, which had “changing business needs”.  In other words, part of Project Prism involved Revolut deciding not to do the things that they had been hired for.  The fact that the company decided to just rescind the offers rather than finding something else for them to do might suggest that these particular graduates had been hired for particular skills rather than general aptitude and potential; if they had been recruited for a specific tech project that isn’t now happening, for example, they probably won’t stay unemployed for long.

There won’t be much schadenfreude from other fintechs; Revolut is a high-profile firm and it’s made an early call on the need to adapt to market conditions, but there’s not much about the reporting of Project Prism that suggests it’s a company-specific issue rather than an industry-wide one.  Even the widely publicised audit and control problems are hardly unique in the world of banking, let alone fintech.  Winter is coming across the industry, and unfortunately a lot of people who had been very happy with their job offers a short while ago are likely to end up feeling cold.

Elsewhere, Goldman Sachs appears to be continuing in its strategy of hiring people for surprisingly good-looking jobs in surprisingly unfashionable cities. (Apologies to any proud Brummie readers, but you know what we mean).  After picking up a few dozen wearers of Stetson hats in Dallas, Texas, they are now looking for peaked caps and vintage three-piece suits in Birmingham, England.  The bank has now signed a lease for an office building, fitted out to its own specification and with room for 800 people.  That’s a big upgrade from the current presence, which consists of 230 staff and an unspecified number of consultants based out of a We Work.

And as with the Dallas office, the jobs they are planning to create there are by no means all back-office or unglamorous.  There will be some HR and legal posts, and quite a few in retail banking, but according to Gurjit Jagpal, the MD in charge of the Birmingham office, they are also looking for hires in blockchain technology. 

According to Jagpal, Goldman is intentionally diversifying its locations in order to continue to attract talent.  “Post-pandemic”, he says, “the trend you’re seeing is we are having to go to places where talent wants to be.”  Some of the top talent wants to be in Dallas and Birmingham rather than New York or London, and when you consider what kind of house a VP salary can buy in the different locations, who can blame them?

Meanwhile …

As expected, Deutsche Bank may have been the first to announce energy-saving measures in its European offices, but not the last.  Hot water, company gyms and overnight lighting seem to be the first things to go. (Business Insider)

JuliAnn Burkhardt, a former consumer and retail coverage banker, is now the Chief Strategy Officer for Bank of America Investment Banking. (Bloomberg)

Jefferies has been hiring so many MDs over the last few years that it’s a natural target for other firms looking to make senior hires.  Citigroup, for example, has taken Derek McNulty after three and a half years there, to be their new Head of North America Chemicals Coverage. (Reuters)

It may be an industry winter, but Canadians are used to the cold – RBC sees “a big opportunity” for its trading business to break into the top ten (Bloomberg)

Why is the Bloomberg Terminal so entrenched in the banking industry? The answer involves consideration of TikTok, the Kardashians, the 70s TV series “Dallas”, Ferraris, iPhones and LeBron James. (FT)

The latest buy-side firm to open up an equity capital markets team is Man GLG, who have hired Rob Leach from Jefferies to be their new head of ECM (Financial News)

Congratulations to BofA equity research, champions of Europe.  Commiserations to BNPP Exane, who lost their title from last year by a single point. (Institutional Investor)

If you can live with the slightly jarring LinkedIn-Content-style line breaks, an interesting post by someone who left Goldman to join a crypto-fintech startup explaining why they did it. (Rebellion Research)

Although it’s a job with a built-in time limit, there seems to be quite a lot of client stickiness when it comes to childrens’ education – many of the super-rich who hired private tutors for their kids during the pandemic have decided to keep them on anyway after it finished. (WSJ)

Photo by Arno Senoner on Unsplash

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Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

AUTHORDaniel Davies Insider Comment
  • Mi
    9 September 2022

    Thanks for a great article.

  • Bo
    8 September 2022

    No “top talent” wants to be in Birmingham, that is just a fact. London or WFH, that’s it.

  • Da
    Dan simmons
    8 September 2022

    "Good looking jobs in surprisingly unfashionable cities" , wow what a condescending and

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