A string of deaths this year has reignited concerns over the high-stress business of banking, and some of the financial industry's largest institutions are beginning to take steps to address the issue.
A JPMorgan Chase (JPM) employee in Hong Kong became the latest banker to jump to his death, falling from the roof of the company's Asian headquarters on Tuesday. Local news reports in Hong Kong said police arrived at the scene but were unable to stop the 33-year-old man from jumping.
At least five bankers have died in apparent suicides since the start of the year. No link between the deaths has surfaced, but news of the incidents brought forward questions over work-related stress in the industry.
In the wake of this year's deaths, JPMorgan and Bank of America (BAC) began reaching out to workers to remind them of available mental health and counseling services, according to FOX Business Network's Charlie Gasparino.
Last summer, a Bank of America intern died after reportedly working until 6 a.m. three consecutive days, prompting a change in the company's guidelines.
Jaime Klein, founder and president of Inspire Human Resources, said employee-assistance programs are now common additions to a company's benefits package for workers. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%EAPs might include wellness or fitness programs, as well as a phone number to call if someone is in need of counseling.
"Many companies are starting to proactively address mental health," Klein said, noting how workers often work long hours and wear it as a badge of honor. "In our culture, we're taught to keep a stiff upper lip."
Just three weeks before the incident in Hong Kong, Deutsche Bank (DB) said William Broeksmit, a recently retired executive at the bank, died at his London home. According to police, he was found hanging in his residence.
And shortly after that incident, a 39-year-old male leapt from JPMorgan's Canary Wharf office building in London. Days later, an executive director at the largest U.S. bank was found dead at his home in Stamford, Conn.
Since the economic downturn, it has become increasingly important for companies across all industries to train leaders to look out for signs of depression, Klein said.
"It's important for leaders to be role models," she added. "How can you expect others to work nine hours when you're putting in 14-hour days?"
Banks Take Notice of Recent Worker Deaths
Swiss bank UBS blames a rogue trader at its London office for a $2.3 billion loss that is Britain's biggest-ever fraud at a bank. Kweku Adoboli, the 32 year old trader, is sentenced to seven years in prison. Britain's financial regulator fines UBS after finding its internal controls were inadequate and allowed Adoboli, a relatively inexperienced trader, to make vast and risky bets.
The case has echoes of Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel, who hid €5 billion in losses. Kerviel said SocGen turned a blind eye to his colossal positions in late 2007 and early 2008 as long as they made money for the bank.
Wells Fargo Bank agrees to pay at least $175 million to settle U.S. Department of Justice accusations that it discriminated against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers from 2004 through 2009. The department said the bank's discriminatory lending practices resulted in more than 34,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers in 36 states and the District of Columbia paying higher rates for loans solely because of the color of their skin.
JPMorgan Chase announces a loss of $2 billion from a trade that was meant to protect the bank if the global economy sharply deteriorated. Later, losses from the bad trade swell to nearly $6 billion and shave much more from the company's stock market value. The episode heightens concerns that the biggest banks still pose risks to the U.S. financial system, less than four years after the financial crisis.
Barclays agrees to pay more than $450 million to U.S. and British regulators to settle charges that it attempted to manipulate a global benchmark interest rate known as LIBOR. The rate indirectly affect the costs of hundreds of trillions of dollars in loans that people pay when they get loans to go to college, purchase a car or buy a house. Numerous other banks are under investigation for similar violations.
UBS pays $1.5 billion to settle LIBOR manipulation charges with regulators in the U.S., Britain and Switzerland. The bank says some of its employees tried to rig LIBOR in several currencies.
An independent review finds Kabul Bank spirited some $861 million out of war-torn Afghanistan in a massive fraud based on fake loans to 19 individuals and companies. A bailout of the bank costs the equivalent of 5 percent of Afghanistan's gross domestic product, making it one of world's largest banking failures ever.
HSBC, Europe's largest bank, says it's paying $1.9 billion in penalties to settle a U.S. money laundering probe. The investigation into HSBC focused on the transfer of billions of dollars on behalf of nations such as Iran and the transfer of money from Mexican drug cartels. The bank said its anti-laundering measures were inadequate and said it was "profoundly sorry."