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Technology Fueling Scandals on Wall Street

Insider trading

The day-to-day world of banking has changed dramatically in the last decade. Phone calls and in-person conversations have been replaced by email and instant messaging, from corner offices down to the trading floor. While the technological evolution has increased efficiency on Wall Street, the digital trail left behind is ruining lives and costing firms billions.

The latest example centers on Standard & Poor’s, which faces a $5 billion lawsuit for allegedly weakening its credit rating standards to win more business. The Justice Department suit surprised many because it targets only S&P and not its closest competitor, Moody’s, which provided similar credit ratings before the economic crash and has also been the focus of the investigation.

So why not Moody’s? The reason may be as simple as the firm’s strict policy on instant messaging. Unlike S&P employees, who left a trail of outrageous and possibly incriminating messages, Moody’s employees are told to discuss sensitive matters face-to-face, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Now that isn’t to say that Moody’s was involved in wrongdoings – the firm could have been following the straight and narrow – but the fact that the ratings agency communicates in an old school fashion has made the firm a bit of a moving target for investigators, who are still probing Moody’s, according to the Journal.

Email and IM trails have been key pieces of evidence in the Libor rate-fixing scandal, the insider trading probe into SAC and dozens of other investigations.

If the sagas provide one lesson it’s this: If you are going to discuss something sketchy, put down the iPad and walk down the hall. It’s good for you.

New CEO Looming (WSJ)

Asset manager Legg Mason will likely name a new chief executive officer this week, moving interim CEO Joseph Sullivan into a different role.

M&A Co-Head (NY Times)

Goldman Sachs has named Gregg Lemkau its new global co-head of mergers and acquisitions. Lemkau, who was previously the firm’s head of M&A in the European and Asian-Pacific regions, will run the key business unit alongside Gene Sykes, who has held the role solely since last year.

Worried I-Bankers (eFinancialCareers)

Barclays Chief Executive Antony Jenkins will deliver his new strategy for the bank today. Investment bankers in New York and London are bracing for the worst.

Home Field Advantage (Bloomberg)

A strong correlation exists between the ethnicity of a mutual fund manager and where he or she invests.

It Just Didn’t Occur to Us (Bloomberg)

Executives at Royal Bank of Scotland likely didn’t catch on to the fact that their traders were manipulating Libor rates because they didn’t believe it was possible.

Good and Bad (City)

London added financial services jobs in January, but the numbers are still way down compared to the previous year.

Buzz Around the Office

G-Rated Fortunes (NY Post)

The world’s largest fortune cookie company is being forced to stop stuffing their cookies with romantic messages after receiving complaints from protective parents. So if you’re single, superstitious and love Chinese food, don’t expect to hear wedding bells anytime soon.

List of the Day: Stale Job Search

Searching for a job can be extremely frustrating, particularly if you have been out of work for some time. Here’s how to energize your search and keep your mind sharp.

  1. When searching online, change the venue. Don’t just sit at home.
  2. Write down a plan with actionable steps and new milestones.
  3. Volunteer.

(Source: Glassdoor)

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