Don't Fuck With Jamie Dimon, Barclays Edition

You come at the king, you best not miss.

Around this time last year, Jamie Dimon had a little problem. See, when Dimon's disciple Jes Staley opted to spread his fledgling wings and take off for Barclays a year earlier, Dimon could handle it. Watching your proteges depart is just a natural part of life at the top. But soon Staley was getting fresh. First he nabbed former JPMorgan colleague CS Venkatakrishnan as chief risk officer. Then Paul Compton came over as COO. Other followed.


Then, shortly after the bank poached Tim Throsby, Barclays apparently had an abrupt change of heart:

In September 2016, a managing director at Barclays’ New York office sent an email — seen by the Financial Times — explaining that the two banks “have agreed to a 1-year ban on hiring any JPMC employee by Barclays” in key areas such as in corporate and investment banking.
The email, sent to more than 20 senior colleagues, goes on to say that following a review of pending offers by Barclays to JPMorgan staff, one “unfortunately will be pulled from Wealth UK”.

What happened in the interim? Did Staley suffer a sudden attack of humility? Not likely. Instead, it probably had something to do with his former boss:

Dimon was irked by the loss of such a promising exec, so soon after several other high-level poachings[...]. The brusque American phoned Barclays’ chairman John McFarlane to tell him the raids on his bank had to stop. Staley, meanwhile, called Daniel Pinto, JP’s investment bank head. An uneasy truce now reigns.

The hiring ban apparently ended within a week of when it began. But that hasn't stopped it from crawling back, as all things Barclays must, to haunt Jes Staley. From the FT:

The US Department of Justice has been examining whether Barclays promised JPMorgan that it would not hire its staff following several senior defections. No-poach agreements can be illegal under US antitrust laws.

Details are sparse, but the basic chronology seems to be this: Barclays shanghais a bunch of talent from JPMorgan; Dimon gets Staley on the horn and savages him; Barclays institutes its “ban”; Barclays un-institutes its “ban.”

Now, no one wants the Justice Department poking around. For JPMorgan, whether they explicitly suggested a no-poach agreement or not, this probe might end up being more of a headache than Barclays raiding its company roster was. But the headache is liable to be much bigger across the pond. If there's a lesson here, which is that you really, really don't want to fuck with Jamie Dimon.

Barclays’ email raises questions on banks’ ‘no-poach agreement’ [FT]