Morning Coffee: Something strange happened during Goldman Sachs' internships. Credit Suisse's wild central risk desk

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When we asked recent banking interns what they thought of last summer's internships, the results were entirely positive. "The internship exceeded anything I could ever imagine," said one, who'd interned at J.P. Morgan. "- Everyone was so accessible, would take time to answer my questions, even senior people cared about me learning." "The internship definitely exceeded expectations," said another, who spent the summer at a European bank. "- I got to work on live deals which hit headlines so that was incredibly exciting and rewarding."

So far, so fulfilling. In Goldman Sachs' securities division, though, something strange seemingly went down this summer.  - There was an odd game of musical chairs.

Financial News quotes a former intern on Goldman's trading floor, who said that every day the firm's human capital management (HR) people would put out small red plastic chairs for interns to carry about and set down next to traders they were shadowing. However, HR never put out enough of them, meaning some interns didn't get a crucial chair. To add insult to injury, the chair-less interns had nowhere to sit because they weren't allocated desks of their own. They were presumably therefore relegated to the 'swamp' - the Goldman name for the area where interns congregate on the trading floor.

Goldman didn't comment on the chair saga, which allegedly had more to do with space than with sadism. However, Financial News notes that it's not the first time Goldman Sachs interns have had their rank emphasized by the bank's seating arrangements: ex-Goldman executive director Greg Smith said interns had to fight over folding stools in his book about leaving Goldman Sachs of 2012. If true, the whole thing seems strangely infantile - particularly as Goldman prides itself on a culture of collaboration.

Separately, there are people who read this site who will say categorically that central risk is a bad job (you know who you are). But at Credit Suisse it sounds pretty ok. Business Insider reports that Credit Suisse has opened a central risk desk in the past 12 months and is using it to take an increased amount of risk in equities trading. Symptomatic of this was a $100m trade which reportedly caused some nervousness among traders in the Swiss bank who weren't used to such high levels of risk - even though some U.S. banks place trades of this size almost bi-weekly.


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