Trying to find a banker who publicly backs Trump is a bit like trying to find a 40-something who loves Nickelback. They’re out there, but with a few exceptions, they’re keeping quiet. Most people on Wall Street are still looking around for anyone they know who admits to choosing the next President.
“Nobody I know voted for him,” says one managing director in M&A. “I don’t know anyone who would be caught dead voting for Trump,” agrees a credit salesman. “It’s establishment all the way for them.”
As Julian Assange pointed out, admitting to being a Trump supporter isn’t (or at least wasn’t) easy. “Because he so clearly – through his words and actions and the type of people who turn up to his rallies, represents the people who are not the upper middle class educated, there’s a fear of seeming to be associated with that,” said Assange in an interview before the election. “- There’s a kind of social fear that lowers the class status of anyone who can be accused of assisting [Trump] in any way.”
In an industry riven with social fear and populated by the highly educated upper middle classes, an absence of overt Trump voters is unsurprising. Discreetly, however, some people on Wall Street broke away from the pack. The credit salesman accuses his Hillary-voting colleagues of an “unthinking liberalism.” Another recently retired MD in NYC says he knows, “a bunch of people” in finance who voted Trump but who won’t readily admit it: “Because NY is a Democratic state, they say they voted ‘Hillery’ when I know they voted Donald. No one I know in finance is proud enough of their vote to say it out loud.”
It’s a different story for finance professionals working in solidly Trump states away from the East Coast. A New York-based asset manager whose firm has a Tennessee outpost said colleagues in the two offices are political poles apart. “My NY clients, my local friends, and family are numb and depressed about Trump’s victory,” he says. “But my Southern colleagues are elated and think everyone attending these Trump protests is silly and lazy and doesn’t have a job to go to.” Although he supported Hillary, he says he won’t be attending the rallies personally. Nor will other people in finance: “My crowd knows it’s pointless [to protest],” says a hedge fund salesman. “It’s done.”
Another NY-based analyst told us he’s disgusted by the violence at the anti-Trump rallies. “Let me be clear, I didn’t vote at all. I was highly critical of both of them,” he says. “But if I had voted for Trump, it would have been an anti-Hillary protest.”
Although Clinton was seen as more favorable to the finance industry before the election, this particular analyst argues that Clinton’s policies were “Marxist” in their emphasis on redistribution and free college debt. Similar to Lloyd Blankfein, he thinks that Trump’s plan to cut tax rates and enact a fiscal stimulus will be good for the economy: “With Trump as president, economic growth will be higher and business will ramp up their capital expenditure and R&D investment,” he predicts. “This will require additional finance capital and will therefore be accretive to hiring in large banks.”
While financial stocks have been some of the best performers in the Trump rally, it will be a while before bankers are publicly willing to run the gauntlet of Trump support. “There’s just too much emotion in the debate at the moment,” says the retired MD. “People are keeping their heads down.”