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Morning Coffee: Outrage of the uber-competitive ex-Goldman trader. Banks’ warped idea of ‘smart’

Don't cross a human steamroller.

Don't cross a human steamroller.

35 year-old Deeb Salem is competitive. In fact, he’s more than competitive – he’s “as competitive as Michael Jordan.” Because of this. Salem doesn’t just want to win, he wants to, “steamroll the opposition.” – Or at least this is what Salem, a senior mortgage trader, wrote in his Goldman Sachs’ appraisal a few years ago.

Salem left Goldman for the hedge fund GoldenTree Asset Management in May 2012. However, Salem claimed that Goldman didn’t pay the bonuses he was owed when he departed and he took Goldman to court in an attempt to extract $20m from the firm. In March 2014, he lost that battle. Now, Salem says he was steamrolled by the U.S. justice system: the FINRA arbitration panel reportedly called his case ‘bulls–t’ during a hearing and refused to let him call Goldman’s top trading executives as witnesses. Not a placid, compliant type of person, Salem has registered a complaint: he says he fell foul of a “shocking and blatant miscarriage of justice” meted out by a “kangaroo court.” The court says that even if Salem had called Goldman’s trading executives, he wouldn’t have been able to establish a legally enforceable claim to the bonus money. This thing could run and run.

Separately, David Kaib of the Notes on a Theory blog has been reading, ‘An ethnography of Wall Street’ by anthropologist Karen Ho. Kaib pull’s out some of Ho’s observations on why it is that top banks like JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank like to hire from top universities. The thing is that attending a top school is intrinsic to banks’ definition of intelligence. The banking industry has a ‘culture of smartness,’ says Ho. And smartness is defined as, an “aggressive striving to perpetuate elite status.”

In the circumstances, Kaib points out that the smartest students will come from the most prestigious schools. He says that on Wall Street, “smartness” means much more than individual intelligence. – It conveys a, ‘naturalized and generic sense of “impressiveness,” of elite, pinnacle status and expertise, which is used to signify, even prove, investment bankers’ worthiness as advisors to corporate America and leaders of the global financial markets.’ Under this definition, you’re defined as ‘less smart’ even if you have the ability to attend a top school but actively choose not to.

Meanwhile:

There’s big demand for healthcare bankers at City banks: RBC is hiring, so is BAML, and Morgan Stanley has got a space after moving someone to NY. (Financial News) 

Things are looking up at recruitment firm SThree. (Evening Standard) 

Headhunters Spencer Stuart have been appointed to find a chairman for the Banking Standards Council. (Telegraph) 

Bank of England is employing hackers to test banks’ defences. (Independent) 

“It’s really hard nowadays to see how taking clients to Brazil could be appropriate entertainment.” (Financial Times) 

‘I earn about £150,000 but I live hand to mouth.’ (Telegraph) 

Banks have failed to appeal to millennials who’d rather work in healthcare. (Quartz) 

 

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