Ex-Lehman banker: I lost as much as anyone in financial crisis
A former employee of Lehman Brothers recalls the banking giant’s collapse.
A former Lehman Brothers banker has claimed he was “hurt by the crisis as much as anyone” after losing his bonus following the lender’s disastrous collapse.
The US bank’s administration on September 15 2008 was one of the most famous moments of the financial crisis and helped trigger a tidal wave of negative sentiment directed at the banking sector.
Millions lost jobs and homes as a result of the crisis, while greed and recklessness came to define the industry, a reputation that many working within it have attempted to shed.
But one ex-Lehman banker, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Press Association: “I lost five years’ worth of bonuses. I was hurt by the crisis as much as anyone.”
He added that the Lehman Brothers collapse was the result of just “20 or 30 guys” at the bank, and pointed out that, unlike other lenders, it did not receive a Government bailout.
Recalling the day that Lehman officially collapsed, he said: “I’d gone through the weekend not knowing if we would make it through until Monday, I’d gotten wind the week before that we needed a buyer.
“The general view was that Lehman wasn’t a firm of cowboys and it was one part of the business that had spiralled out of control.
“I was shocked, the Barclays deal had fallen through, it was surreal, grief and anger.”
He pointed the finger at former chief executive Dick Fuld and ex-Lehman operating head honcho Joe Gregory when discussing the bank’s demise.
Mr Fuld, who was at the helm at the time of the bank’s collapse, was the “guy we set up to go and beat everyone up”, while Mr Gregory was “the warm, empathetic guy, the cheerleader of the bank”.
“There were feelings of anger balanced between the two. Employees felt they had the bank out in too concentrated risk.
“And they did not allow for a board of directors that would be more critical, a soft board. There was also a lot of anger at the real estate guys,” the former banker said.
Despite the anger, former employees still have fond memories of their time at Lehman.
“A lot of people loved the bank, loved the culture, me included. There was a feeling that Lehman was a much better place to work than places like Goldman (Sachs), Deutsche (Bank) and Barclays.”
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