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"Gary Stevenson was loved and nurtured at Citigroup. His comments are hurtful"

I worked with Gary Stevenson, the ex-Citigroup trader, YouTube anti-inequality campaigner and author who now claims he was the best trader in the world and who spends his time campaigning for a wealth tax. Like many of Gary's other former colleagues, I don't recognise the world he portrays in his book 

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Gary was very much loved at Citigroup. He describes us collectively as "dysfunctional maths geniuses, overfed public schoolboys and borderline psychopaths," but that's disingenuous. I was there and that's not how it was. 

Gary joined Citi when he was only 21. He was very charismatic and had an amazing story. He was a kid who was intelligent, bright-eyed, who worked hard and was very likeable. A lot of us felt very fatherly towards him.  We knew he'd had a challenging upbringing, and we mentored him. He was always referred to as a "good kid.". 

Over time, though, Gary changed. He's complex and complicated and has a chip on his shoulder about private school educated people, even though not all of us on the desk were like that. The money changed Gary. When he first got a big bonus, he was surprised, but a year or so later I can remember him going around and saying, "If I don't get $1m at the end of this year, I am f*cking out of this place."

Gary was a good trader but he wasn't the best. Nor was he one of the biggest traders in the world. He was a guy sitting on a making big decisions, but we all were. To be the biggest and best trader in the world, you'd have to be looking across equities, commodities, credit. Gary might have been the biggest trader at Citi in London for a while, but that's about it. To be the best trader you need to make consistent money over long periods of time, but Gary didn't do it for long enough. He was well-supported and guided, and he made good money when everyone made good money. The world was going down the pan, and Gary jumped on it like everyone else. 

Gary makes everyone he worked with at Citi seem amoral. In fact a lot of us have sympathy for his calls for a wealth tax, but we question how it could be implemented and whether the banking industry is the main problem. He never mentions that 50% of everything you earn in banking today goes to the government in tax. I'm grateful for my time in banking, but Gary seems very bitter. It's hurtful to those of us who tried to help him.

Some things are left out of the book. For example, Gary doesn't say much about our boss, who was one of the most impressive human beings I've met in my life. He is intelligent, honest, fair and compassionate, and he has emotional intelligence beyond his years, but there's no mention of that.  

The trading floor has an intense effect on people, and you don't know what it will be in until you're in it. Gary's descriptions in the book of losing weight, ending relationships and living in an apartment with no furniture and little sleep suggest he was becoming unraveled, both mentally and physically.

From the perspective of those of us on the desk with him, this unraveling started when Citi wouldn't let Gary leave with his bonuses. Everyone in banking knows that you have to wait three years before bonuses fully vest, and that bonuses are withheld because they want to hold onto you. It's in your contract, and Citi has to uphold it because the bank doesn't want to make exceptions to the rule. Gary implies that once you are in, it’s impossible to leave. That's not true. He could have left at any time, but that meant “leaving the money.”

Gary couldn't accept this that. He is not good at accepting authority and wants things his way. When he wasn't allowed to leave with his bonuses, he refused to work and his mental and physical health visibly deteriorated. 

Gary, however, says he “won” because Citi gave him his deferred stock and let him leave early. That’s not my take. Citi acted out of compassion and gave a young man his money before his physical and mental state got worse. I believe that our boss went upstairs and asked for Gary to be allowed to leave: he was concerned about Gary's health.  And of course, Gary was of no use to the bank if he is not making money trading; that’s the nature of the City.

I wish Gary well, but I also want him to think about the way he's sensationalized his story and burned a lot of people who tried to help him. Reading his book, I'm left with a lot of questions. Did he learn anything about himself from his time at the bank? Does he have cautionary messages for other aspiring traders? Where is his gratitude for the people and institution that nurtured him and gave him an opportunity for wealth and the choices that come with that wealth? Is there any reflection and introspection? I'm not so sure that there is.

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AUTHORKent Bray, Counsellor and Mentor Insider Comment
  • Wi
    William duke III
    6 June 2024

    "Inequality. The rich get the assets, the poor get the debt, and then the poor have to pay there whole salary to the rich every year just to live in a house. The rich use that money to buy the rest of the assets from the middle class and then the problem gets worse every year. The middle class disappears, spending power disappears permanently from the economy, the rich becoming much richer and the poor, well, I guess they just die."

    -Gary Stevenson, The trading game.


    Tax the rich.

    Put the tax money into public services, civil infrastructure and small business grants. 

    It's not difficult to understand.


    If you don't the pyramid will collapse.

  • Wi
    William duke III
    5 June 2024

    Trying to get a promotion are You? Pull your face out of your bosses rectal cavity when you are speaking, it's incredibly rude!

    My people are starving because of your incessant greed and we are coming for your assets! I promise you, your advantage will not last. There will be a persicution and you are destined for the BBQ!

  • En
    EndPrivateSchool
    23 May 2024

    Sounds like the whining of a boarding school educated banker who lacks the self awareness to understand it might be a bit tough being working class in the City. I can only imagine the descriptions hurt because there is a truth to them (the City is certainly full of elitist toffs, some of whom are sociopathic)

  • Jo
    JoeBlow
    10 April 2024

    I expect a lot of backlash towards Gary, with his book, campaign for fair taxation and background. I know a lot of city boys, from past and present. They will have seen Gary as a novelty, because almost every single one of them is from a very privileged background - especially nowadays, although not so much in the past. So, for anyone with any intelligence or empathy, they should have known that a kid from his background would eventually start to feel the heat of a job where he could make millions and watch the global economy go to pot. Gary came from nothing. Almost everyone else there had no idea what that was like.

    I have read the book and it is very clear that Gary wanted out, but also wanted his bonuses. He doesn't try to hide that in any way. He also knew that it doesn't work that way.

    Did he hurt the feelings of some people that he worked with? Maybe he thought they were arseholes. That's his opinion. He clearly states that he himself was behaving like an arsehole much of the time. I have seen people like Gary burn out and walk away before. It's quite common. But don't pretend to have hurt feelings because a guy you thought you knew has decided that your entire system is morally corrupt and riddled with greed - and is telling the world. The bankers broke the economy and got away with it. And they'll do it again and again if given the chance. If Gary's story helps prevent that, good on him.

  • Jo
    Joe90
    10 April 2024

    Hi Nicolas, I’ve read Gary’s book and have a number of questions for you as somebody who worked with him.


    First, are the people that Gary refers to in his book their real names?


    Second, I don’t geddit about Gary’s hatred of Rupert Hobhouse and nor does he explain it, especially when he acknowledges that he helped him early in his career and took him to Vegas.


    Third, I don’t understand why the bank shipped him off to Tokyo, which Gary portrays as a trading backwater when he could have made a lot more money for the bank by remaining in London when the volume of trade was much larger. If Caleb Zuckman was brought back to be a steadying influence on Gary, why was not he given his old job back so that both men could remain in London?


    Fourth, Gary describes being stiffed by The Frog with a lie about Swiss interest rates apparently gleaned from insider information, which he uses to offload his bad trades to Gary. Did double dealings like this really happen between colleagues in a ‘dog eat dog’ world?


    Finally, I was amazed that Gary’s basic salary was only £36K and never seemed to rise because all the money was being made on bonuses. Is this an accurate portrayal of the way traders are paid with a 7% bonus of their profits?

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