Charlotte Street Partners



All stressed out and nowhere to go

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate 
Edited by Adam Shaw, associate partner
29 March 2021

Good morning,

In the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul stands a cage-like building known as the kafes. Here the sultan kept his heir under constant confinement and surveillance. The heir had no way out but his reward was an empire.  

In 2021, demanding junior positions at major investment banks offer similar trial and reward. The protests of some Goldman Sachs analysts against 98-hour weeks have attracted global attentionThese are far from the world’s only workers whose poor conditions have been worsened by the pandemic. Yet eyes are inevitably drawn to the Darwinian world of finance by its glamorous reputation. 

Before the pandemic, an environment of 98-hour shifts at a leading investment bank might have been a cage but it was a golden cage. And, unlike the sultan’s heir, if you didn’t want the reward, you could leave. The pandemic, however, has made such positions less golden and more of a cage. 

The glamour of investment banking, the camaraderie and the plate glass offices have been replaced by isolation and cramped flats. The vaunted freedom of home working has proven to be the freedom never to stop. Juniors working 18-hour shifts earn less, per hour, than the living wageSome senior executives may be understanding but cultural shifts will not come overnight. 

Before the pandemicstruggling analysts could leap into unemployment, reasonably certain a decent CV would lead back to a decent job. Covid has eroded any such certainty. 

Last week we found out that, despite resilient job numbers, 61% of those who lost payrolled employment last month were under 25. The looming end of support schemes is unlikely to improve this picture. Although retail and hospitality are more affected than white collar jobs, unemployment would be a bold step for any young worker.  

City analysts are far from the only workers in such a bind. Home working, though a gift to many, has worsened conditions for others. Employers cannot, on their own, create a jobs market that works for younger employees. They can, however, ensure the transition back to the office is a reset point: one at which a decrease in flexibility is outweighed by increases in camaraderie and mutual careOtherwise, young employees will remain in the cage with no promise of a palace. 


Reports emerged this morning that the Ever Given – the container ship obstructing the Suez Canal – has been re-floated and will soon be movedThe 400-metre-long ship ran aground in the vital waterway last Tuesday, causing immense disruption to global trade routes. 

Lockdown rules will ease in England from today as the stay-at-home order ends. Outdoor sport is now permitted while up to six people from two different households will be permitted to meet outside. The government has unveiled the changes under a new slogan: “Hands, face, space, fresh air”. The stayathome order ended in Wales on Saturday and will end in Scotland and Northern Ireland on Friday and Thursday respectively. 

Alex Salmond has offered an olive branch to Nicola Sturgeon after launching his new political party, Alba, on Friday. The first minister has previously made clear she does not believe reconciliation with her predecessor is possible. The offer comes as Neale Hanvey, the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MPjoined East Lothian MP and former minister Kenny MacAskill in leaving the SNP for Salmond’s new party. (£) 

Business and economy

Shares in Japan’s largest investment bank, Nomura, have plunged by as much as 16% as the bank faces a profit wipe-out in the second half of its financial year. The news comes after a fire sale of $20bn worth of Chinese and US stocks linked to Archegos Capital Management. (£) 

A survey by the Federation of Small Business has found that 23% of small businesses who previously exported to the EU suspended sales to the bloc after Brexit. A further four per cent have stopped trading with the continent for good. The survey found a further 11% were considering stopping exports to the EU completely while 70% had found it harder to import from the bloc. 

Fears for the future of Liberty Steel have grown after the UK government rejected the company’s plea for a £170m rescue loan. Ministers are believed to have rejected the loan due to concerns about the opaque corporate structure of Liberty’s owner, the Gupta Family Group. The rejection comes in the wake of the collapse of Greensill Capital, one of Liberty’s major financial backers. 

Columns of note

In The Times, Stephen Bush argues Sir Keir Starmer’s managerial style has been acceptable throughout the pandemicThe Labour leader will, however, need to capitalise on new issues as the pandemic ends. Bush traces Starmer’s personal polling, which is strong relative to other recent opposition leaders, and assesses how issues such as access to justice could benefit Labour in a future campaign. (£) 

In the Financial Times, Ruchir Sharma claims fresh sanctions will hardly damage Vladimir Putin’s “fortress Russia”. Since major western sanctions were first imposed in 2014, the Russian president has created a relatively sealed economy, which continues to withstand such restrictions. Sharma points out, however, that such a defensive position inhibits growth. (£) 

Cartoon source: The Times


The week ahead

On Thursday, the UK Health Security Agency, which replaces Public Health England, will begin operations. The body, which will tackle Covid and future health threats, will be led by Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer. 

In the US, President Biden will announce further details of his $3tn recovery package. On Monday, the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, will commence. 

Opec will hold its monthly output meeting on Thursday. The oil cartel is not expected to raise output quotas. On Wednesday the World Trade Organisation will issue its annual growth projection. 

What’s happening today?

Dev Clever Hol.  
Globaltrans S 
Impact Health 
Ten Ent Grp

Aukett Swanke 
James Fisher and Sons 
Sabien Tech.
Seneca Growth

Pathfinder Minerals
Toc Property

Interim dividend payment date
Mountview Est.

Quarterly payment date
Royal Dutch Shell A
Royal Dutch Shell B

Special ex-dividend date

UK economic announcements
(08:00) Nationwide House Price Index 

Int. economic announcements
(11:00) Consumer Confidence (EU)
(11:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)
(11:00) Industrial Confidence (EU) 

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Prior to the Reformation, the Norfolk town of King’s Lynn was known as Bishop’s Lynn. 

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess and will next sit on 13 April

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess and will next sit on 12 April

Scottish Parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess ahead of the election on 6 May

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