Morning Coffee: HSBC said to be reviewing its equities business. The optimal duration of a handshake

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After first Nomura and then Deutsche Bank decided they no longer wanted to be in the business of trading cash equities, it was perhaps inevitable that other banks with a tenuous hold on that market would decide to do the same. 

The latest to do so is said to be HSBC, which the Sunday Times says is 'to review' its equities trading business under its new and ruthless interim CEO Noel Quinn. This is the same Quinn who arguably has decided that making decisive cost cuts is the best way to convince the HSBC board that he should be made CEO forever. 

Despite investing heavily in its equities business over many years - latterly under Robert Crane whom it hired from KCG two years ago - HSBC has little to show for its efforts. The bank had a 2% share of the global equities sales and trading market in the second quarter according to KBW. This was even less than Deutsche Bank, which couldn't make it work on 3%. As the top three players (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan) pull away from the pack in equities, HSBC is one of the banks struggling to keep up.

This doesn't mean that HSBC is definitively cutting its equities operation; 'review' simply suggests this might be a consideration. The Sunday Times doesn't say where it got its story but quotes a fatuous investment banker as saying, "Equity desks are becoming more automated — it wouldn’t be a shock if they take more bodies out.” HSBC declined to comment.

Separately, next time you shake someone's hand be sure not to shake for more than three seconds. Research by academics at the University of Dundee found that most people expect handshakes to be two seconds long and that 'violating' this has an adverse effect on the recipient's mood. 

If you shake someone's hand for more than three seconds, the researchers found that the recipient of the shake will laugh less, become more anxious and experience 'emotional discomfort.' None of this sounds like a recipe for securing a job or sealing a deal.


Citigroup says there are “seven to 10 bankers we would love to hire” in Europe as it tries to overtake JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs in the league tables. Presumably you know who you are. (Financial News) 

Sara Vavra, the global head of macro at Point72, has left the hedge fund after around two years. (Bloomberg) 

Investigo, the private investigation firm that followed ex-Credit Suisse banker Iqbal Khan says it was completely incomprehensible that Credit Suisse had passed on confidential information to the media. (FiNews)

Did Deutsche Bank destroy Trump's tax returns? A former executive suggested it may have, “returned any physical copies or destroyed any physical copies under an agreement with a client and cleansed their servers.” (Salon) 

A court in London has again heard taped conversations between Anthony "Big Dog' and "Dodgers" Jenkins and Richard Boath of Barclays in which they appear to discuss extracting illicit financing from the Qataris in 2008 and the prospect of going to jail because of, "the jeopardy that we’re rumbled and people say: well, that was bullshit. You know, this is just a fee in the back door.” (Financial Times) 

Banks are setting up Brexit control rooms and traders are preparing to eat, sleep and work round the clock in their offices if a no-deal Brexit seems inevitable. (New York Times)

Subclinical narcissism may be great for your career. “People who score high on subclinical narcissism may be at an advantage because their heightened sense of self worth may mean they are more motivated, assertive and successful in certain contexts.” (The Times) 

JPMorgan, Goldman, Citi and Wells Fargo, which together account for 40% of assets in the U.S. banking system, have all decided to report their Q3 results on Tuesday.  (Financial Times) 

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