Clifford Chance: rapid response
As the referendum polls drew to a close, the language around contingency planning appeared straight out of an SAS manual. US exchange operator CME Group reassured clients that it had been adding staff to its “Global Command Centre”. (That’s a back room in Chicago to you and me.) Over at Clifford Chance in Canary Wharf, the Magic Circle law firm had set up a Jack Baueresque “24/7 Brexit rapid response unit” to respond to client queries across the world. A cynic would say that lawyers are quids in if there’s a vote for Brexit. It would mean hours of work advising on contingency plans and unwinding 40 years of membership. But as Clifford Chance partner Simon Gleeson has been telling clients: “It’s rather like being a doctor in the Black Death — you’re very busy at the time, but it’s not really good in the long term.” Back in Clifford Chance’s secret bunker, one joker has decorated the walls with posters of Peter Sellers in his role as US president in Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy Dr Strangelove. “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”
Barclays: all night long
Brexhaustion swept the City as the referendum pulled into the final straight. Among those most likely to feel it are the currency and interest rate traders who will be pulling an all-nighter on Thursday as the votes are counted. A Brexit vote would likely roil global markets — and the potential fallout has been dubbed the biggest opportunity for traders since Black Wednesday in 1992. No wonder then that banks are making special arrangements. JPMorgan is booking hotel rooms for staff near its offices in Canary Wharf. Spare a thought for the poor traders at Barclays, where sleeping bags are said to be on the agenda. It sounds like Glastonbury — only with less mud, fewer traffic jams and (hopefully) a slimmer chance of getting your stuff nicked.
JPMorgan: vote now
A memo went out to all of JPMorgan’s 16,000 employees in the UK on Wednesday drawing their attention to Thursday’s referendum (in case anyone has been in an underground bunker for the past year). The US bank reminded staff that “the polls for this referendum are close, and every vote will make a difference”. JPMorgan stopped short of telling employees which side to vote for. Luckily, chief executive Jamie Dimon essentially did that already when he said this month that an exit from the EU would be a “terrible deal for the British economy” and warned that he could move jobs out of the UK.
Citigroup: hitting a high note
Citigroup has posted an “EU Referendum Playlist” on its internal portal to get staff in the mood. The line-up features “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” (The Clash), “Don’t You Want Me Baby?” (The Human League) and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (Oasis). Come Friday, those in the winning camp will no doubt be rocking to Abba’s “The Winner Takes It All”, while the losing side takes comfort in Talking Heads’ classic “Road to Nowhere”. In a memo to staff this month, Citi’s UK head James Bardrick warned that if Britain left, staff might be moved out of London into the EU. So if there’s a vote for Brexit, maybe Lee Dorsey’s “Gotta Find A Job” [in Frankfurt] will be blaring at Citi’s Canary Wharf HQ. In the run-up to the 10pm end of voting, one song from the playlist stood out: “The Final Countdown”, that classic anthem from Swedish rock band Europe.