LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Being number one doesn't just matter for individuals. It has profound importance for industries, too. Before the financial crisis, investment banking was the clear career of choice for MBA graduates enticed by the prospect of money, power and prestige. Now they’re more likely to start out for Silicon Valley. Banking has lost its alpha-ness.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Jes Staley has put his foot in it. Barclays' chief executive will get a pay cut after he tried twice last year to unmask a letter-writing whistleblower who impugned the character of a recent recruit at the bank. The error may seem morally defensible: Staley wanted to defend a colleague from what he saw as unfounded smears. But it doesn’t say good things about Barclays' internal processes.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Credit Suisse knows the importance of keeping its nose clean. The Swiss bank confirmed on March 31 that its offices had been raided by authorities in several countries in relation to possible tax evasion. It later stressed its "strict zero tolerance policy", pointing to a review initiated in 2011 to purge it of any dicey clients. A guilty plea and $2.6 billion settlement with U.S. authorities over tax evasion in 2014 have given the bank good reason to be scrupulous. Such raids act more as a reminder than a warning.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Tidjane Thiam's compensation for 2016 shows up Credit Suisse's tin ear. The Swiss bank's board has granted its chief executive 11.9 million Swiss francs ($12 million) for the year. That looks bad in a period when it made a 2.7 billion Swiss franc loss and was considering a potentially dilutive capital raise.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Tackling money laundering calls for more zeal from the banking industry. The financial sector's role in abetting criminals' recycling of illicit funds is facing further public scrutiny, after revelations concerning ING and several UK lenders. The Dutch bank disclosed in its annual report that it is the subject of a money-laundering probe by domestic authorities, while the Guardian reported on Monday that several British lenders recycled almost $740 million in illicit proceeds for a single Russian crime syndicate.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - "Holy shit," U.S. Department of Justice fraud investigator Robertson Park exclaimed in 2010, as he listened to a two-year-old recording of a call between former Bank of England Deputy Governor Paul Tucker and Bob Diamond, then chief executive of Barclays.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Securities analysts are about to be divided into winners and losers. A European directive will force sellside firms to charge fund managers an explicit price for European securities research from January 2018. The stratification will be pronounced. Many analysts will go; others will be even better paid.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - It’s the epitome of a difficult sell. The UK's Co-operative Bank put itself on the market on Monday, citing progress on its turnaround plan. But this is a lender in a ferociously competitive market, likely to fall short of capital requirements, and whose erstwhile ethical brand was tarnished by media revelations that its former chairman – then a Methodist minister – binged on rent boys and crystal meth. Prospective buyers will need fortitude – and a low enough price tag.
NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Dan Loeb is getting too bullish on banks. In his latest letter to investors in Third Point, the high-profile hedge-fund manager argues that a combination of rate hikes and operating leverage will jack up returns for U.S. lenders and investment banks before any tax cuts or regulation take effect.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Investing in UBS is a bet on an uncertain world. The Swiss private bank reckons resurgent investors may boost its tepid 6.1 percent return on equity for 2016. But after a fourth quarter marked by net outflows of 5.4 billion Swiss francs ($5.4 billion) and a further withering of wealth management margins, Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti’s hopes for a pick-up in activity need quick consummation.