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Morning Coffee: 45-year-old Goldman Sachs partner pauses in search of lost mojo. Citi latest bank to fire people in ongoing increments

When Stephanie Cohen, the Goldman Sachs partner responsible for various elements of the bank's struggling consumer business, spoke to the Financial Times in March, she was transparent about her life philosophy: people need to ask themselves whether they really want to be doing their jobs and are learning new things. If the answer is yes, they should go for it; if the answer is no, they should walk away. 

"If you decide to be here, and decide to do what you’re doing, you own it,” declared Cohen. “I decided to be at Goldman Sachs many, many, many times.”

Three months later, Cohen has decided she doesn't want to be at Goldman, for the moment at least. She is embarking on a period of leave of indeterminate duration in order to be with her husband and family. Business Insider says she did something similar last year, although many people within her division were unaware of it at the time.

The fact that Cohen, a go-getting sort of Goldman Sachs partner who joined the firm as an M&A analyst in 1999 and ascended to the group management committee in 2020, is able to take long periods of leave when she's not feeling it, is somehow reassuring: at senior levels, Goldman is gentle with its most valued people. "We look forward to welcoming Stephanie back, when she is ready,” David Solomon and John Waldron, Goldman's CEO and president, reportedly wrote in a company-wide email Friday.

Other Goldman partners may want to do something similar: one partner who spent 26 years with the firm confessed at his leaving party that the longest break he'd ever had was two weeks for a holiday. Cohen appears to be breaking new ground with something akin to repeat sabbaticals. 

Separately, although Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have gone for the shock and awe approach to job cuts, extracting upwards of 4% of their entire staff in one go (although Morgan Stanley's cuts are being eked out to August and Goldman is now going for a second round), there is a different way: relentless, low level attrition. 

This is what Citi, Jefferies and others appear to be going for. 

Financial News reported on Friday that Citi is making another 50 cuts in its London investment banking team. This is 5% of the 1,000 person headcount in that particular unit and follows "hundreds" of job cuts, amounting to 1% of Citi's total staff in March.

Small incremental cuts are appealing to banks because they can be passed off simply as standard culling of underperformers. When headcount is being kept stable, they can also allow for upgrading on the basis of one-in-one out.  Accordingly, while Citi is culling bankers at all levels of seniority, it's also out there hiring managing directors, particularly from Credit Suisse, from which it just plucked itself a new MD in leveraged finance. 


Three more Credit Suisse bankers - Steven Winnert, head of equity-linked origination, and William Brett, head of corporate equity derivatives and Ernesto Cruz, ECM chairman, are going to Santander. (Bloomberg) 

UBS has imposed tight restrictions on Credit Suisse bankers including a ban on new clients from high-risk countries and on complex financial products. There are nearly two dozen “red lines” that prohibit Credit Suisse staff from a range of activities from the first day the two banks are combined. (Financial Times) 

Barclays’ human resources department has been warning bankers who leave the company not to try to poach their colleagues. (Financial Times) 

Crispin Odey established an escape vehicle - Brook Asset Management with almost half of the firm’s funds, including those by star partners James Hanbury and Oliver Kelton, in 2020. (Financial Times) 

Jefferies banking analysts expect sales and trading revenues to fall 20%-30% in the second quarter. They say that equity capital markets have shown "meaningful improvement" over the year-ago quarter. Advisory revenue has declined as an offset, but is "showing green shoots in deal and volumes." (Morning Star) 

Former Goldman Sachs banker Hafize Gaye Erkan is now head of the Turkish Central Bank. (Financial Times) 

Joaquin de Soto, a top inflation trader for Goldman Sachs, is joining Citadel. (Business Insider)

Ben Newton, a 30 year-old Deloitte auditor who joined as an apprentice, just made partner. (The Times) 

People are less honest on their laptops than their mobile phones because they associate laptops with work. (WSJ) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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