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Morning Coffee: The other woman striking fear into thousands at Citigroup. When people are too paranoid to leave

If you work for Citi now, there are two women who might fill you with apprehension. One is Jane Fraser, the CEO who is on a mission to extract layers of management, do away with pointless meetings and cut jobs, the other is Titi Cole, who is the person tasked with executing Fraser’s intentions.

CNBC reports that Cole, who joined Citi in 2020 and who’s done stints at Bank of America and Wells Fargo, has been put in charge of the reorganization, known internally as ‘Project Bora Bora.’ Cole is considered well placed to manage the cuts, having assisted Wells Fargo in a reorganization past. Her experience is entirely retail-bank related, which may or may not be a good sign for Citi’s investment bankers and traders.

While Citi has cut some heads already, the bulk of the cuts are yet to take place but are likely before bonuses are announced in January. CNBC says cuts of ‘at least 10% in several major businesses’ are likely and that Citi people are already stricken with trepidation. “Morale is super, super low,” one recently ex-Citi banker informs CNBC of the former colleagues he’s spoken to. “They’re saying, ‘I don’t know if I’m getting hit, or if my manager is getting hit.’ People are bracing for the worst.”

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Cole was Citi’s head of legacy franchises before she was handed responsibility for the reorganization. In that role, she sold nine businesses. Speaking in July, Cole said she’s all about empathy, excellence and simplification.

Much as Citi staff might dread Cole's empathic simplicity, the cuts need to take place. Feared banking analyst Mike Mayo points out that Citi is currently generating returns below its cost of capital of circa 10% and that it therefore has, “no right to stay in business.”

Separately, PWC has delivered a reminder of what happens when people are too fearful to leave for new jobs.roles. The Financial Times reports that the Big Four firm is cutting 600 jobs, mostly in its advisory business, after no one left. because too few people left.

PWC’s job cuts will affect all levels but will also be skewed towards more junior staff in a reflection of the firm’s seniority structure. They’ll take the form of voluntary redundancies at first but will become more forceful if no one steps forward. PWC chair Kevin Ellis told the FT that the eliminations will mean the firm doesn’t have to cancel its graduate hiring this year. And yet even after they’ve taken place, PWC will still have more employees than if people were leaving for new jobs as normal.

Meanwhile…

UBS hired 20 people from Credit Suisse’s UK deals team. The unit now has 50 bankers, compared to the 30 it had before the acquisition. (Financial News)

Bosco Ojeda, UBS’s head of European small and mid cap research, is moving to fund management. (Bloomberg)

Ramzi Issa, Credit Suisse’s debt ESG swaps supremo is wanted at UBS. (Bloomberg)  

Nomura is still busy hiring green technology bankers. Its most recent addition is Christian Brucher in Europe. Alex Wotton, co-head of Nomura Greentech, says the team has expanded “substantially.” (Financial News)

Barclays is still hiring in Asia. It just recruited Abhay Kumar Sinha from Deutsche Bank for its financing business and has hired dozen people in Asia to grow its special situations structured credit and private lending businesses. (Bloomberg)

Being a member of an elite can encourage a lack of empathy and ‘dark psychology.’ (The Conversation)

Your reminder that you can also retire in your 50s as an executive in a supermarket chain. “Having paid off our mortgage we could seriously think about stopping work altogether and living off our savings instead.” (The Times)

Bitcoin trading has lost its lustre. “Bitcoin is not as volatile or as driven as it was. For traders like me who are hunting for inefficiencies in the market, it’s not as interesting. The allure is kind of gone.” (Bloomberg)

Revolut is moving to Thompson Reuters’ old office in Canary Wharf. The flagship building, with 113,000 square foot of space, is a statement of intent even though Revolut doesn’t have a UK banking licence yet. (Financial Times)  

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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