Morning Coffee: Spoof interviews for $100k+ banking jobs. JPMorgan's spending problem
Informational interviews have long been a thing in financial services. For those who haven't come across them, these are interviews where there's no real intention of being hired or of making a hire, and where either party is simply attempting to glean information from the other. Nick Peddy, the JPMorgan technology managing director who says he goes to interviews just to work out how much he could be earning somewhere else, is a case in point. Banks, on the other hand, might interview competitors' employees to get a perspective on what they're up to.
It's slightly different, however, if you go to an interview in the full expectation that there's a job on offer and there isn't. This is what seems to have been happening at Wells Fargo, although the impetus to conduct non-interviews is apparently only in place for six-figure jobs.
Following complaints that black candidates had been interviewed for jobs already filled by other candidates (who were presumably white) to satisfy a policy requiring the bank to interview a diverse list of people for jobs paying $100k+, which was itself implemented only to make amends for a remark by the CEO to the effect that there weren't enough qualified black candidates anyway, the New York Times spoke to Barry Somers, the head of WF's wealth and investment management business. Barry said the wronged interviewees unearthed by the NYT couldn't have been the subject of box-ticking interviews because they weren't going for the $100k+ jobs where the incentive to interview diverse candidates exists. "“There is absolutely no reason why anyone would conduct a fake interview,” he added with the sort of categorical insistence that's supposed to shut someone up.
Except, there clearly is a reason. Or at least there is for jobs paying over $100k. Only by demonstrably interviewing a diverse array of candidates at Wells Fargo can you stay on the right side of the CEO. And if it's all about interviewing instead of filling jobs, then why not interview all kinds of diverse people when the jobs are already filled?
While WF is insistent that this isn't going on, Matt Levine notes that it wouldn't be the first time incentives at the bank have gone awry. Ten years ago, the bank was subject to a cross-selling scandal that's now the subject of a Harvard case study after its branch employees were found to be opening all kinds of accounts and foisting all kinds of products on customers in an effort to meet aggressive targets. Then CEO John Stumpf resigned and lost $11m in unvested stock as a result.
Is interviewing people for jobs that don't exist equally bad? At least they're getting some interview practice. But the interviewees who've feel they've been wronged don't see it that way and complain of false promises and ghosting. And if Wells Fargo is doing it, other banks are surely up to something similar. Most have diversity targets. Most like a diverse shortlist. Diverse interviews are the obvious next step, especially for big jobs where interviewees are overwhelmingly pale and male.
Separately, as we noted in April, JPMorgan's bonuses are likely to fall this year. This is not because JPMorgan's corporate and investment bank is making less money (although it is), but because JPMorgan is spending too much money on other things.
Reuters notes that JPMorgan is hosting its first investor conference in two years on Monday and the conference appears to have been convened in response to concerns that costs at JPMorgan will be increasing by $6bn or 8% this year, without any indication that revenues will increase commensurate with that or explanation into how the investments will eventually pay off.
Predictably, much of the spending involves technology. Speaking during JPMorgan's Q1 results call, Jamie Dimon said the bank 'wants to win' and is spending money on everything from real-time payments and "certain blockchain-type things" to cyber controls. It's all about the future, Dimon explained.
JPMorgan's stock is down 24% so far this year. Bank stocks in the S&P500 are down 20%.
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