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Stifel sex with cleaner claims follow complaints and exits of senior women

Citigroup's senior equities professionals must be breathing a sigh of relief. Following complaints about the culture in their own business, something far worse has surfaced at Stifel Europe.

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Various major news sources have reported today that two people at Stifel have been fired - a senior and a junior trader - after they were discovered to have had "sexual liaisons with the same office cleaner" both "in the toilets and other locations within the building at night." 

The encounters were reportedly discovered after senior staff at Stifel launched an investigation and scrutinized CCTV footage. Eithne O’Leary, the female president of Stifel Europe, has reportedly ordered an investigation and the bank has embarked upon an attempt to ensure the workforce understands its cultural values. Stifel's head of diversity explains some of these in a video accompanied by empowering music here. 

The Times reports that the incidents were discovered several months ago and that one of those involved left immediately after findings of misconduct, while the other is in a "legal process" over his firing. 

In the UK, individuals who are not considered "fit and proper" are prohibited from occupying senior and certified roles by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, it's not uncommon for senior bankers and traders accused of poor behaviour to resign from their roles before investigations take place, thereby avoiding regulatory scrutiny.

Stifel's salacious activities follow complaints that the culture at the mid-market bank and brokerage firm is poor and that senior women have been leaving. In the past year, Caroline Gulliver, a senior equity research analyst left for an investor relations firm, Ramona Racz, an MD in distressed debt sourcing and sales left for Fidera, and Kamilini (Gavender) Hull, head of growth capital Europe, left for Investec. 

The British government's gender pay gap tracker shows that men occupied 94% of the jobs in the highest paid quartile at Stifel in 2023. Companies House accounts show that Stifel Nicolaus Europe Ltd. made a £27m loss in 2022, the last year for which figures are available. Sources say that recent bonuses were disappointing and heavily deferred.

 Financial News reported at the end of April that Stifel cut 15 jobs. These cuts were not related to the allegations concerning the cleaner. The recent cuts are understood to have included Nick Adams, Stifel's co-head of corporate broking in London. Neither Adams nor Stifel responded to requests to comment. 

In a statement provided to the Times on the claims concerning the cleaner, Stifel said: “This matter, involving two employees, came to light several months ago. We investigated and have taken appropriate action. Both individuals are no longer with the firm.”

The fired individuals are not understood to have paid the cleaner for sex.

A senior woman at a rival bank said she would be "disgusted" if something similar happened at her employer. "The gender pay gap at the top of Stifel says it all," she adds. "How can you have any impact on lad culture when 94% of your highest earners are men?"

Eithne O'Leary, the female president of Stifel's European business, joined in 2015 after running Oriel Securities in Europe. Stifel's European COO, head of equities, deputy head of equities and CFO are all men. O'Leary presumably accounts for the 6% of women in Stifel's European top earners. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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