There’s probably at least one at every morning meeting – the person with a career in financial services who still hasn’t given up on their dream of sports, acting, music or whatever. They were probably very talented when they were young, but they had more student debt than they were comfortable with. And they decided that they would just earn some money and then start their real life. But they also proved to be good at banking so they kept getting promoted and each year’s bonus was just enough to make it worth staying another year… that’s how you end up like Griff Aldrich in 2016, a successful 41-year-old man. MD at Atinum Energy Investments, but spending every free moment thinking about his amateur basketball training and what could have been.
But that’s when things took a left turn. One of Griff’s old teammates from his own college basketball years had stayed in the sport and called him out. He was offered a job at the bottom of the pyramid, with only $32,000 a year, but back in the game. Supported by an “adventurous” wife and convinced that it was a “divine appointment”, he decided to go for it.
It turns out that (as long as you know a little about the sport, presumably) the responsibility and organizational skills that help you succeed in private equity are also applicable to succeed in college basketball. Within two years, Griff and his friend had built a team that was pulling off major upsets in the NCAA championships. A few years later, he had been recruited to become a head coach himself, and now he is taking his team – the Longwood University Lancers – to the national finals for the first time in its history. It’s practically a Hollywood movie, though it will presumably deal with years of private equity in a quick edit before getting to the action.
Of course, American college athletic coaching is one of the few public sector jobs where you can earn more than just private equity if you’re really good at it. John Calipari of the University of Kentucky earned $8.16 million in 2021 according to Statista, and even at the bottom of the top twenty they still earn over three million. He’s currently on $150,000 at Lockwood — plus any bonuses he might get if they have a good run in the Championships — and must surely be on his way back to his old private equity salary. But of course it’s not about the money – it’s about the dream. It’s good to know that from time to time someone takes care of it.
Elsewhere, M&A bankers are like cockroaches, apparently. Whenever there is one you know there are plenty more hidden away, and the mere sight of them makes you sick and want to go to another restaurant…sorry, just kidding guys. The similarity to cockroaches is in their apparent ability to survive anything. Even in war and pandemic conditions, they just have to hide and wait to move on when there is business to be done.
This seems to be the view of James von Moltke of Deutsche Bank. Although Dealogic’s data suggests revenue is down 32% year-to-date, and the next two weeks seem unlikely to save the quarter, he described it as “more of a lag than a fall in activity”. ” during a conference. He believes that if the uncertainty of the war is resolved and we see “a period of greater stability in terms of valuations and market volatility” then trading will return.
This seems to be the general view of investment banking teams at the moment – although the world seems unstable and the markets more unstable, there are still large pools of SPAC money to invest, capital funds- investment to be made and financially strong companies like Amazon and Discovery looking to pick up the bargains. Maybe that’s a little optimistic – the pandemic has played tricks with our perception of time, but there have been mass layoffs on the streets as recently as 2019. But right now, it seems that there is no immediate sense of a forthcoming change in strategy.
If you are even slightly interested in quantitative and machine learning and its importance for future banking careers, this is a great long read from the “Data Science for Finance” course at Wharton Business School, one of the most popular and subscribed options. in MBA-land, where students learn how to spot Bernard Madoff in a data set of coverage returns, extract data on the price of diamond jewelry, and determine what amenities AirBnB guests are willing to pay. (Business Insider)
Deutsche still puts its money where James von Moltke’s mouth is when it comes to investment banking prospects – they hired Macquarie’s Tej Shah to run their tech banking franchise on the US West Coast after hiring Sean McCarthy and Jusung “Juice” Kwok the past two years. (Reuters)
In one of those “good news…not so good news” staff announcements, McKinsey is moving staff from its Moscow office and relocating them to Almaty, Kazakhstan. (Finews)
Though McKinseyites might consider themselves lucky — local and expat staff at some big Wall Street names don’t know what they’re supposed to do with themselves now that corporate headquarters has announced it’s “closing” Russian activities and wondered whether to stay in hopes of a quick end to sanctions or abandon ship and try to head for Dubai. (Financial News)
A deep dive into the question that is on every compliance officer’s mind: since bankers know they are not allowed to use WhatsApp for business purposes, why do they continue to do so? (American banker)
The jury in the Roger Ng trial must have a pretty good idea of the world of investment banking; after taking the stand as a witness to some of Ng and Tim Leissner’s 1MDB transactions, former BSI banker Kevin Swampillai admitted that at the time he himself was involved in an unrelated fraud and banned from the industry without being prosecuted. (Finews)