Sadly, in true dry investment banking style, the most interesting thing to land in the HSBC board’s inbox for some time wasn’t titled ‘We are part of the resistance inside HSBC’, and one assumes that the writers, who claim to be “extremely concerned” bankers at HSBC, didn’t have humour uppermost in their minds.
But that doesn’t mean they didn’t come up with some corkers once they’d got beyond the subject line.
For its part, HSBC has rejected the picture painted by the now infamous memo.
“This is not the global banking we recognise,” it said in a statement.
“We are proud of our global banking business and of what Robin [Phillips, who heads the business] and his senior leadership team have achieved over the past few years.”
How the outrage must have dripped from the memo’s authors’ fingers as they typed about Jefferies – Jefferies! – hiring some of their folk.
“Does senior group management simply not understand the level of embarrassment … where this group of UK M&A bankers has quit HSBC for Jefferies? What does this say?”
They were perhaps at their most entertaining when at their most insulting, but mixed in with the bile are some decent gags: “Our revenues per professional would shame a regional solicitors firm, let alone an investment bank.”
There is a stark simplicity about some of the verdicts.
Of 100 fired bankers: “the majority of this bunch were totally useless” is the conclusion. And the authors had equally little time for an off-site in Kent, described as “a piss-poor, bad, ill-thought (sic) event, a waste of time driven by open stupidity. You have no idea how bad this event was.”
We have some idea now.
The authors can be grateful for one thing. HSBC is treating the complaint as a whistleblowing incident, meaning that they can hope to be safe from the kind of research that will be going on in the White House.
After the recent unfortunate whistleblowing incident at Barclays, that would be good. HSBC: making whistleblowing fun again.