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Morning Coffee: Unlikely backstories of Goldman Sachs’ top 35-year old bankers. Morgan Stanley’s $850bn banker finally declares victory

Anne Victoire Auriault

One of the few comforts of growing old as a banker is that you no longer feel bad when an industry publication identifies a list of “young stars of the future” and you’re not on it.  So Generation X will be able to calmly pass by the Business Insider Rising Stars of 2023, while Zoomers and younger millennials seethe. 

The cut-off age for the BI list is 35, and the people on it are selected through a combination of recommendations from the industry, plus a bit of digging on the part of the editors.  That might hopefully help this list to avoid a version of the “30 under 30 curse”, which afflicts people who appear on the Forbes list of up-and-comers, many of whom tend to come to a messy end in one way or another.  By the time someone is in their 30s, they’re more likely to be judged on results than on potential, and it’s somewhat harder to fool your industry peers and colleagues than it is to raise a bunch of VC money and hire a PR firm.

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Even so, any list of this sort is always going to be made up of people with a bit more hustle than the norm, and with an interesting story – nobody wants to read “he’s a bit of a nepo but extremely competent in his technical niche and doesn’t need sleep”, even if that might maximise the predictive accuracy of the list. 

In fact, it seems almost de rigeur to express a degree of surprise that you’re in banking at all, let alone on a list of future stars.  Anne-Victoire Ariault, a French woman at Goldman Sachs who was promoted to partner in New York aged 31, for example, was brought up by two architects who'd expected her to go into the arts, rather than computer science and program trading.  Benjamin Kiflom, also of GS, had “never imagined” a career in real estate, but here he is, managing $7bn of commercial mortgage-backed securities.  David Trinh only heard about “this hedge fund called Bridgewater” because some of his debate team colleagues mentioned it, and so on.

Of course, not everyone goes down this route.  We have a great deal of respect for Katya Brozyna (massive Top Gun fan, spent entire career in coverage for the aerospace and defense sector at Jefferies).  Or Nadim Laiwala, who apparently thought “it felt like the right fit and an immediate impact” the moment he got on his first deal team at Houlihan Lokey. 

It makes slightly more interesting reading, but nobody gets on banking success lists if they don’t enjoy what they do.  Even the two Goldman bankers on the list actually joined the firm straight out of university and have never worked anywhere else.

The interesting thing now, though, that one’s mid thirties are usually the point in a career where leadership roles start becoming a consideration.  Nearly everyone on the “stars of the future” list has got where they are by doing deals and generating revenue.  You can have a lucrative career in banking by doing that, but to reach the very highest levels, you need to start actually managing people.  And that might be something that many of them genuinely never have considered before. 

Elsewhere, Guy Metcalfe of Morgan Stanley’s “rising stars under 30” days are more than two decades in the past; he’s now retiring at the age of 56, having been involved in more than $850bn of transactions during his career in the bank’s real estate banking business.

Apparently “liked and trusted by everybody” in the business, he’s gathered an impressive collection of war stories – a casino in Atlantic City, some massive portfolio sales and the bank’s own European headquarters.  Real estate is one of the most difficult niches in banking – the transactions are big, the capital commitment typically substantial, and some of the personalities are not the easiest to deal with.  Congratulations to Guy Metcalfe, who’s managed to stay at the table longer than most, and is now taking his chips home.

Meanwhile …

At JPMorgan’s North American investment banking business, it appears that they expect the top management to keep involved in sector production.  Fernando Rivas, the retiring head of the business, was also head of FIG, and his replacement, Jay Horine, will continue to co-head global energy, metals and mining. (Bloomberg)

Perhaps a few nervous laughs, shivers and instructions to the juniors to make sure everything’s up-to-date in nice offices in London this week – the UK Financial Conduct Authority has announced a sweeping review of private market valuations.  Sell side bankers might get a few phone calls to ask if they have a model hanging around. (FT)

He wore sweatpants on investor calls and shorts to interview Bill Clinton, but Sam Bankman-Fried will be wearing a suit and tie – slightly more formal than most bankers - for his court appearances.  (NY Post)

“I will never forget being introduced to a new colleague at Bankers Trust in the 90’s. My outstretched hand was met with a curt rebuff, “no friends in money”.  These days, Gavin White of 26 Degrees Global Markets (a prime broking firm) ends up getting coffee for his own interns because they’re doing more crucial work than him (Finance Magnates)

Crispin Odey decided to call up the private investigations firm that hired Nick Leeson and Tom Hayes, to see if they could provide a similar service for him to the work they had done for Harvey Weinstein.  The negotiations never progressed, but instead a recording of the conversation went to the press, including jokes about the whole affair and a seeming suggestion that he might have been set up by anti-Brexit forces. (Bloomberg)

Michael Antonelli, market strategist at RW Baird, gets distressingly frank about the mid-life crisis that overtook him earlier in the year at a client event when he saw how much weight he’d gained in years of banking. (Bull and Baird)

If you have a guinea pig and several times more money than sense, you can take it to a “Piggy Pen” pet spa for grooming and pampering.  It’s possible to get leather sofas for iguanas too, as high-end animal kitsch which was previously only for cats and dogs makes its way to the small pet market. (WSJ)

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AUTHORDaniel Davies Insider Comment

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