Morning Coffee: The bitchy world of the bros who work in hedge funds. Goldman Sachs employees' lesson on being human

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Hedge fund jobs, as you probably know, are notoriously difficult to land – even for elite analysts and senior sell-side rainmakers. Hedge fund jobs also come with the expectation of high comp (via carried interest) and big expense accounts.

What you may not realise, however, is that working for a hedge fund requires a high degree of…bitchiness. Acclaimed U.S. author Gary Shteyngart has just published ‘Lake Success’, a novel about a hedge-fund manager called Barry who loses everything – and it’s full of new insights into the oftentimes secretive industry.

Shteyngart didn’t just rely on formal interviews to uncover what it’s like working for a hedge fund; he lived the life. During a four-year period doing research for the book, the author went to hedge fund managers’ parties and flew with them on their private jets.

Some of the hedge fund executives he mingled with “felt a lot of hatred toward investors”, Shteyngart told the Wall Street Journal. And when asked by Shteyngart to explain the underlying motivations of successful competitors, they responded with a touch of malice. “They would say, ‘His wife doesn’t really love him’, ‘His mother never loved him enough’, ‘His children really hate him.’”

In the book, Shteyngart also satirizes the lifestyles led by top hedge fund professionals. Barry’s Manhattan existence is described in detail, from the Filipina nannies, to the Duravit sinks and the $33k bottles of Karuizawa single-cask whiskey. Ultimately, however, Shteyngart does not make the life of a hedge fund manager sound overly appealing. “So many of them were missing fundamental pieces of themselves, and the money was supposed to fill in for those pieces,” he told the WSJ.

Separately, Goldman Sachs may be investing in machine learning (predominately within its FAST Securities team and R&D Engineering Group) but the bank not adverse to hearing about the downsides of AI technology and its affect on humans. Goldman recently invited philosopher Robert Rowland Smith, author of ‘AutoBioPhilosophy: An Intimate Story of What It Means to Be Human’ to speak at one of its regular ‘Talks at SG’ events (you can watch the video here). When discussing “AI vs. human nature” Rowland Smith remarked, “There’s a very contemporary sense that we need to reclaim what it is to be human away from the transactional, the algorithmic, the robotic”. Music to the ears, perhaps, of Goldman’s human bankers in the audience.


Christian Sewing: Deutsche Bank will stay global, stay in IBD, but not try to be a “number 1, 2 or 3” investment bank. (Reuters)

Sewing’s call for “strong” European banks has reignited speculation about a Deutsche/ Commerzbank merger. (Financial Times)

David Harvey-Evers, head of European M&A at Standard Chartered, has left the bank. (Financial News)

The new way to earn a counter offer at J.P. Morgan. (Business Insider)

UBS has appointed law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to help investigate the bank’s handling of a rape allegation. (Bloomberg)

Credit Suisse has poached Makoto Kuwahara from Deutsche Bank as its new chief executive officer for Japan. (Reuters)

The bankers helping to list James Bond’s favorite car maker. (Financial News)

Meet Goldman’s do-gooder bankers. (Bloomberg)

Bank of America now holds more than 50 blockchain-related patents. (Blockonomi)

UBS is shuttering its U.K. digital wealth management platform, which it only launched early last year, and selling the IP to an American start-up. (Reuters)

Was the financial crisis a wasted opportunity? (Project Syndicate)

You could soon fly London to Sydney, without stopping, in a bunk bed. (Bloomberg)

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Image credit: runeer, Getty

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