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  1. Wealth
October 1, 2009

Musical corner offices

By Spear's

When the music stops, grab the nearest seat. Oh, sorry, Ken Lewis – no chair for you.

When the music stops, grab the nearest seat. Oh, sorry, Ken Lewis – no chair for you. That’s okay – you can still win pass-the-mortgage-securities-parcel.

The one sector which is clearly benefiting at this stage of the recovering recession/recessing recovery is signmakers: all this job-swtiching requires new tags. After all, Jes Staley’s door now says ‘CEO, JPMorgan Investment Bank’, Sallie Krawcheck’s ‘CEO, Bank of America Global Wealth & Investment Management’, and she might even be trading it in for the simpler, more stylish ‘CEO, Bank of America’. Bill Winters probably has several possible plates lined up.

What this illustrates is a certain degree of clever business management: instead of sacking subordinates or resigning when their mistakes were evident or their ambitions clear, chief executives let them stay until the seas had calmed. Now that the financial sector appears to believe it is out of the woods (thank you, FTSE!), it is time to trim the tall poppies and root out the weeds. (These metaphors work somehow.)

There is natural talk of succession: Jaime Dimon will want to pick the next man, and to have done so during a crisis would have been foolhardy at best, crippling at worst. To take (what I would interpret as) this respite (as opposed to complete freedom) from economic problems makes good sense: when things get worse, there will be no time for defenestrations.

We can just hope that those newly-elevated have enough time to settle their feet under the desk – and have their nameplates made.

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