By Jack J. Kelly
There has been a steady and gaining trend for Wall Street firms, that have historically made New York their home, to move large portions of their employees to other cities in cost-cutting efforts.
The trend started after September 11th when banks recognized the risks of clustering closely together; literally almost all of them were based on or around Wall Street. The banks slowly started moving employees to Midtown Manhattan and Jersey City, New Jersey. Recognizing that investors and clients couldn’t care less that their investment banks were not on Wall Street itself, it emboldened the banks to move further away from the high taxes, expensive real estate, high rents, long commutes, congestion, and higher salaries that prevail in New York City.
Goldman Sachs established a sizable hub in Salt Lake City; Deutsche Bank expanded in Jacksonville, Florida; Citi has moved people to Delaware, Texas, and Florida; Morgan Stanley to Baltimore; Credit Suisse has a group in Raleigh; HSBC shuffled people up to Buffalo, and the list goes on.
It was reported today that AllianceBernstein, the large money management firm, is fleeing Manhattan. The firm’s senior leaders- including Chief Executive Officer, Seth Bernstein (what a coincidence that the CEO has the same name as the company)- will move and be joined by over 1,000 staff (out of 3,500 total employees), the Nashville Post reported. The Wall Street Journal, announcing the news, did not say if the money managers will turn in their three-piece, Brooks Brothers suits for cowboy hats, boots, and spurs.
In 2017, relocations contributed to the first decline in New York City’s securities workforce since 2013. That left the industry with about 176, 900 people in New York City or 6% fewer than before the financial crisis, according to the state comptroller’s office.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Head, Mick Mulvaney, is planning on relocating its employees too. In his case, it’s to the basement of their current building (yes, I am serious). Mulvaney was not a fan of the CFPB before he took over control of the regulator and he is remembered as saying that the Bureau is a “sick” joke.
The basement option is said to be a cost-cutting initiative. Also, he is considering workers sharing desks or having them stay at home as “all options are on the table as we work to make the bureau more efficient and effective,” said John Czwartacki, the CFPB’s Chief Communications Officer.
The CFPB, which was established to be an advocate for consumers, is in the bulls-eye of President Donald Trump’s war against regulations. Mulvaney, who does double duty as Trump’s budget director, has made it his mission to starve the agency. The basement plan seems like a veiled punishment to demoralize and humiliate the regulatory staff. This is on top of Mulvaney not seeking any new funding for the agency. The best and brightest will look for new jobs, leave, and make the CFPB weak and powerless..
Other heads of regulatory agencies are actually trying to do their jobs. Crazy, right? Regulators, recognizing that this whole Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency thing is for real, are starting to question whether cryptocurrencies should follow the same rules as stocks. Discussions hinge largely on whether currency creators “exert significant influence over their value,” similar to how managers affect company stocks. Of particular interest is ether, reports The Wall Street Journal — the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency, worth $67 billion. Bitcoin is classed as a commodity, exempting it from any such rules, but changes could subject other cryptocurrencies to SEC regulation.
Facebook wants to change your relationship status. Speaking at Facebook’s developer conference (which was much friendlier than a couple of weeks ago when he was grilled by Congress), CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced new dating features — sending shares of Tinder owned Match down more than 20%. The social media platform also unveiled its cheaper Oculus Go VR headset and a privacy feature called Clear History, which allows users to delete some data Facebook collects. The social network has faced scrutiny over privacy, with U.K. officials threatening Zuckerberg with an official summons to testify about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But, all seems forgiven and Mark is free to share all our private stuff with everyone who pays him for it.
The Weinstein Company finally found a buyer. With its $310 million offer, private equity firm Lantern Capital Partners has emerged as the highest bidder for the bankrupt studio. Sales of Weinstein Co. assets require approval from a bankruptcy judge and could be challenged by the company’s creditors. Five women who accused the studio of covering up Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct said the sale would leave his victims empty-handed.
Yesterday, Goldman Sachs agreed to pay $110 million to resolve allegations by two U.S. regulators that its foreign exchange traders shared information about investment positions.
“The firm failed to detect and address its traders’ use of electronic chatrooms to communicate with competitors about trading positions,” the Federal Reserve Bank said in a statement.
Regulators examined investments going back to 2008 and involved traders’ use of chatrooms, as they took positions in the currency market through 2013. As part of the settlement, Goldman agreed to hire a third-party to monitor future trades and meet new compliance standards. I’m sure that they also added that they’re sooo sorry and promised to never, ever do anything like that again. The regulators responded, “Okay, you guys! We’re sorry about the fine thing. Hey, do you have any job openings for us?”
Richard Jenrette, an old school Wall Street titan just passed away at 89 years of age. On his desk, Jenrette left behind 24 rules to succeed — in finance, and in life. The list, entitled “What I Learned,” was shared Sunday at an intimate memorial service for family and local friends in Charleston, South Carolina and went viral. Here’s what it said:
- Stay in the game. That’s often all you need to do – don’t quit. Stick around! Don’t be a quitter!
- Don’t burn bridges (behind you)
- Remember – Life has no blessing like a good friend! You can’t get enough of them. Don’t leave old friends behind – you may need them
- Try to be nice and say “thank you” a lot!
- Stay informed/KEEP LEARNING!
- Study — Stay Educated. Do Your Home Work!! Keep learning!
- Cultivate friends of all ages – especially younger
- Run Scared — over-prepare
- Be proud — no Uriah Heep for you! But not conceited. Know your own worth.
- Plan ahead but be prepared to allow when opportunity presents itself.
- Turn Problems into Opportunities. Very often it can be done. Problems create opportunities for change — people willing to consider change when there are problems.
- Present yourself well. Clean, clean-shaven, dress “classically” to age. Beware style, trends. Look for charm. Good grammar. Don’t swear so much — it’s not cute.
- But be open to change — don’t be stuck in mud. Be willing to consider what’s new but don’t blindly follow it. USE YOUR HEAD – COMMON SENSE.
- Have some fun – but not all the time!
- Be on the side of the Angels. Wear the White Hat.
- Have a fall-back position. Heir and the spare. Don’t leave all your money in one place.
- Learn a foreign language.
- Travel a lot — around the world, if possible.
- Don’t criticize someone in front of others.
- Don’t forget to praise a job well done (but don’t praise a poor job)
- I don’t like to lose — but don’t be a poor loser if you do.
- It helps to have someone to love who loves you (not just sex).
- Keep your standards high in all you do.
- Look for the big picture but don’t forget the small details.