Long flights are one of the most miserable things in investment banking. If you’ve got a few of these in a short amount of time – an IPO roadshow or fundraising can easily see meetings in New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Abu Dhabi, and back to London in a week – sleep deprivation can reach levels where it is becomes a form of torture. Sometimes the elderly advise people starting this lifestyle that the secret to a good night’s sleep in business class is “a few glasses of wine and some ambien”. This is not good advice.
Sleeping pills and alcohol are very difficult to combine and can lead to a phenomenon known as the “Ambien zombie” effect, where you behave in a weird way but have little or no memory of it. The last banker to find out is William Clegg – court reports don’t tell which bank he worked for, and at least one of the LinkedIn profiles associated with that name was recently deleted.
The 31-year-old Clegg suffered from insomnia with suspected epilepsy and in any case seldom slept for more than 4-6 hours a night. Benefiting from this, plus a little red wine and Bailey’s liquor, he started tossing candy bars, asked to “go outside and see my friend” at 38,000 feet, and, less amusingly, repeatedly head-butted a flight attendant who was trying to take care of him. Business class passengers were annoyed. The legal process continues.
Looking back on the history of these types of events, William Clegg can take some consolation in the fact that it is not necessarily a retirement age. Citigroup’s Tom Cribb, for example, didn’t stay long at the bank after being convicted of a drunken brawl with immigration officials in Sydney, but he’s currently chief business officer for a car leasing company, which looks not bad. Not everyone ends up like Gerard Finneran, Citi’s emerging market debt expert who sadly goes down in history, not for one of his deals in Argentina, but as the worst passenger in the history of air rage.
A surprising part of the secret of success in investment banking is the ability to deal with sleep deprivation. So, if you need help on a long flight, it might be a good idea to look for career niches where there isn’t that much long-distance business travel in non-COVID times. When it is inevitable, the best advice is to stick with taking pills that you are familiar with. Drink alcohol in moderation when you are drinking. The safest solution might be to try the meditation app that your bank signed you up for as part of their final employee wellbeing package.
Elsewhere in the world of big four accounting, things aren’t always glamorous. In the tribunal of KPMG’s handling of the audit of the collapsed outsourcing company Carillion, UK, the accounting authority alleges that some younger employees have been instructed to take the minutes of a number of meetings that never took place.
It is only fair to the individuals involved to note that they deny all allegations of wrongdoing; For its part, KPMG has admitted that the regulator was misled. But with this in mind in the general case, this is certainly the kind of instruction that, if unlucky enough to receive it, has to say no.
The problem with all of these cases is that if the surgery is not perfect it will get you into much deeper trouble than if you hadn’t taken care of it. The Financial Reporting Council claims that people on the KPMG team took care to open old documents they were lying around on the server and paste in the new text to make sure the “Document Created” date matches what it is should have been. But the cover-up is always worse than the crime – if you find out, those little crafting details make it seem like it was deliberate rather than accidental. At the end of the day, being named the note taker to a real meeting is bad enough – taking minutes of a meeting that never took place is downright demeaning.
In the meantime …
Citadel Securities appears to be leveraging Sequoia and Paradigm investments to “expand more aggressively internationally and into new markets and asset classes,” said the CEO. Many in the market assume this means crypto, but it could mean Paris or Asia – though a billion dollars in the market-making business doesn’t necessarily go that far. (FT)
Unless someone other than Alan Howard is the highest paid partner at Brevan Howard LLP, which seems unlikely, he received £ 55.8m out of total distributions to the partnership of £ 79.8m last year. (Guardian)
Can’t Keep A Good Trader In Line … Sometimes seniors take huge and embarrassing losses, but the market is usually able to form its own opinion about the guilt. Most of the traders who left Nomura after Archegos’ losses appear to have turned up with hedge funds, most recently Jonathan Raiff, former deputy head of global markets who will soon move to Verition Fund Management. (Bloomberg)
A major reorganization seems to be underway at Credit Suisse – according to a memo, origination and syndication teams are being merged, with Jeff Cohen and David Hermer as co-heads. The corporate banking business is led by Michael Stoddard and brought into the investment bank, while David Wah and Jens Welter, as Co-Heads of Global Banking, are responsible for M&A, financial sponsorships and capital markets. (Business insider)
While the LME continues to consider shutting down open-outcry trading, a power outage at a third-party data center is reminding them of the robustness and cybersecurity benefits of good old-fashioned screaming. (Bloomberg)
A thoughtful article on how the long work culture in high paying jobs like banking and the law could provide insights into dysfunctional labor markets across the economy. (FT)
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