The great guy trying to get a grip on Citi's markets business
By all accounts, Andrew Morton, the London-based head of Citi's markets business, is well respected. Former and current colleagues describe him as "one of the greats," a "very, very good guy," and a "really nice person."
But there are suggestions that Morton, who is in his early 60s and one of the most respected veterans of the fixed income trading business may have to put his niceness aside as gets to grips with the complaints about the business he runs.
After last week's gender discrimination suit filed by Citigroup managing director, Ardith Lindsey, which accused Citi of widespread sexism, Morton sent a memo to staff asking them to speak up about harassment when they see it. “Part of everyone’s role in creating a culture of the highest standards involves stepping in at the moment we see something wrong,” he told his team.
Citi is denying Lindsey's claims and plans to defend itself against them in court. Yet, Lindsey's attorney, Jeremiah ladevaia, says Morton's memo doesn't get to the bottom of the problem at the bank, which she says is that when women do report issues, Citi doesn't always act on them. "Citi failed to act decisively when presented with clear and compelling evidence of unacceptable and malicious behavior by Citi Managing Director Mani Singh," Ladevaia says. - Lindsey received a series of malicious texts from Singh, with whom she had a relationship. Although Citi investigated and, Lindsey claims, declared Singh's behaviour "criminal," it kept him on for two weeks and allowed him to resign. Tim Gately, Citi's US head of equities, allegedly then made a goodbye speech to 150 colleagues saying how sad he was to see Singh go. Lindsey says Singh's behavior was not subsequently reported by the bank to the regulator.
Citi didn't comment on whether Singh left with his deferred bonuses intact, but insiders at the bank say they're keen for Morton to make a difference. "We're annoyed and shocked," said one male employee in the markets business, talking on condition of anonymity in relation to Lindsey's case. "It makes you wonder what all the extra compliance and controls people have been doing here."
Having cut his teeth in Lehman's fixed income business, Morton is no stranger to the coarseness of the trading floor. Yet, he also has the cerebral air of an academic. Morton began his career in mathematical finance and co-authored the HJM interest rate model. Writing a decade ago, Financial News described him as 'lacking in hubris,' 'relaxed' and 'engaging.' "At heart I'm a big bank guy," Morton told them.
Morton is also a survivor, and he seems to be a favourite of Citi CEO Jane Fraser. He was hired as a quantitative rates trader by Paco Ybarra, the former head of Citi's institutional clients group (investment bank) who retired last August. For a time, Morton ran markets with Carey Leythrop, a New York based credit trading MD, but Leythrop also left summer. Morton, therefore, is the last man standing.
Citi's restructuring looks like an opportunity for a shakeup in Morton's new empire. As the bank purges itself of co-heads his team has already been shedding staff, even before the restructuring gets underway. Citi insiders point to the recent quiet exit of Pedro Goldbaum, the global co-head of rates. Citi didn't comment on the reason for Goldbaum's exit. Lorenzo Leccesi, the EMEA head of equity derivatives, also quietly left the London business in August and is now working for Swiss fintech Leontech as head of sales for Europe.
There are some impressive women in Morton's business. They include Deirdre Dunn, the US-based head of global rates trading who's been there since 2011 and is also described as a "star" by those who know her. Lindsey says Dunn is one of the people to whom she first complained when she received the texts from Singh, but that Citi still "failed to terminate" Singh's employment immediately.
As is typical in a sales and trading business, many of Morton's other reports are men, some of whom are mentioned in Lindsey's allegations. Whether Lindsey's complaints are proven correct or not, traders from the bank say they're looking to Morton to take a lead. "He's an amazing guy," says one, "But he needs to have a proper look at these allegations and to make sure things are investigated when there are concerns. Everyone is very surprised about the contents of this claim."
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