Deustche Bank is out with a report today encouraging I-bankers to gird their loins. Read more »
G&C announced this morning it’s given the investment banking business the heave-ho. Read more »
One silly thing to think about JPMorgan’s executive reshuffling announced today is “fuck you Sandy Weill!” Before today JPMorgan looked a bit like a loose confederation of financial services businesses, including in particular three different institutional units: the Global Corporate Bank, a bank that lends money to companies, the Investment Bank, an investment bank that does mergers and trades securities, and Treasury & Securities Services, which I think of as sort of a meta-bank that offers big companies checking accounts and safe deposit boxes but, like, bigger. Now all of those things are being combined into the Corporate & Investment Bank, irrevocably mixing corporate (good!) and investment (bad!) banking into one unholy mess seasoned liberally with credit default swaps. The combination will sadden anyone with any hopes of bringing back Glass-Steagall, but it’s paying dividends for JPMorgan already, as the C&IB “will be looking to our global leaders to help implement strategy and deliver top-line synergies, while optimizing the model across all functions in the regions,” a masterpiece of jargon that I doubt any of its businesses could have managed on their own.
“Top-line synergies” of course means that now when you open a cash management account with former TSS you get not a toaster but a meeting in which you’re pitched on a loan from the former corporate bank and a potential M&A deal opportunity with the former investment bank, and vice versa mutatis mutandis if you instead enter JPMorgan through the lending or advisory or trading doors. Because the goal is not merely for JPMorgan to do all of the financial-services functions that some people think should be separated from each other, but for JPMorgan to do all of those functions for all of the clients in the world, because some people just don’t worry that much about “too big to fail.” Read more »
I think everyone who’s ever worked at an investment bank saw at least a little something of themselves in the Journal’s fat asshole article this morning. My own feelings are mixed since, for me, investment banking was a lifestyle improvement over a previous job that left me partially paralyzed from overwork (true story! I got better). So in a sense I don’t have that much to complain about, but I did, and do, constantly and loudly and now on the internet.
Part of what sucks about banking – that I think the Journal article missed – is the frequent pointlessness of your activity: you get on a plane, go see a guy, tell him about this awesome merger or financing or whatever you’ve got planned for him, shake hands, and fly away never to see him again. And by “never” I mean “not until six months later, after he’s printed a deal away from you, when you go and do the same thing, but this time maybe you don’t shave.” You’d probably still be a fat, stressed, overworked cabbie-puncher if most of your ideas actually got executed, but you’d perhaps be less suffused with metaphysical dread. That’s how I’d feel anyway. Then, I blog now.
Anyway, a thing that I don’t know anything about, and never ever want to know anything about, so don’t tell me, is the proper price-to-book trading multiples of life vs. P&C insurance companies and whether there’s a conglomerate discount for being in both businesses. So with that as a disclaimer I found this pretty damn convincing: Read more »
Something you might have picked up on recently is that while UBS may possess many strengths, investment banking is not one of them. The unit’s “continued losses” were to blame for net profit falling 76% in the fourth quarter, there was the matter of their little rogue trader, and not even the higher-ups in Zurich believe in the group anymore, announcing that they’d be “scaling back on investment-banking” considerably. So it probably shouldn’t come as much of a shock that, as predicted, bonuses will be down at least 60 percent from last year, though presumably there will still be some anger and acting out to deal with from those whose compensation will take a hit. But should anyone even so much as entertain the thought of coming at i-bank chief Carsten Kengeter with their own personal shit and claims/threats they have a right mind to take that offer from RBS, know this: Read more »
The Swiss bank sent a handful of employees to a farm upstate earlier today. Read more »
It would be nice to think that the work that investment bankers do is quantum-physics difficult, highly differentiated, and what the heck, sexually arousing. It’s mostly not. Some things are more rocket-sciency than others. Structuring a cross-border public company merger with simultaneous-close asset divestiture to a sponsor to optimize taxes in three jurisdictions while complying with debt covenants is a bit harder than ripping off a drive-by investment grade offering. (Usually it pays more too.)
And then there’s underwriting hyped tech IPOs. Now I should say I’ve never done one and maybe I’m missing a critical component, but as far as I can tell the ratio of pay to complex-and-differentiated content seems quite high. Basically the method is:
- Get mandate
- Write prospectus saying “Groupon is awesome”
- Put together roadshow deck saying “no, really”
- Set up meetings with the 100 investors who buy everything
- Charter a jet to get you to those meetings
- Bring the CEO to those meetings
- Maybe get him to wear a tie
That last step is critical. Groupon’s underwriters are set to make 5% of proceeds on the IPO, or $25.5mm if it prices at the midpoint of the launch range.* Read more »