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Morning Coffee: Charismatic 28-year-old banker makes a fortune through hustling. UBS banker's anxiety disorder

Matt Swain sounds like the sort of person who might be annoying. Not because he's only 28-years-old and already a lot more successful than most people will ever be. Not because he had a head start in the form of his hedge fund father and the fact that at a critical moment in his young career he was able to coinvest 'several hundred thousand dollars of his own savings' to get a deal off the ground. Not even because he was one of those college students who walk around dressed in a gilet pretending to work in finance. But because he keeps a very, very close eye on people who work for him, even at weekends. 

“I want to see who’s working at all hours," Swain told Fortune of his decision to rent an apartment in Manhattan that lets him look into the windows of his office. "If I see two or three people in the office on a Sunday morning, I suspect that a deal’s going sour, and they haven’t rang the alarm. So I make the 2-minute-and-50-second trip across Park Avenue to find out.”   

Swain doesn't own the company. He works for Triago, the Paris-based private equity advisory firm founded by French financier Antoine Dréan in 1992 when Swain had yet to be born. But Swain persuaded Dréan to hire him and to let him set up a business focused on 'directs' - where investors like family offices are given an opportunity to invest directly in companies without intermediaries like private equity firms. And Swain describes himself as Triago's 'global CEO,' so he's clearly pretty senior. 

How does a 28-year-old get in this position? Swain didn't attend a top university (he went to Colgate in Madison County). He didn't even study finance (environmental studies and economics). It undoubtedly helped that in his early teens he hung around the office of his father, the CFO of hedge fund Permian. It also helps that he's personable. Swain's self-described modus operandi is, "deploying charisma and connections to gather capital.” This charisma has also been set to work hiring his mentors and "mentors' mentors", some of whom are over 50. "He’s the hustler who outflanked the competition with all his relationships," says one of the people he works with.

He's also impatient. It's probably easier to walk away from a job you don't like in your 20s when you already have several $100k of savings, but Swain's disgruntlement at being paid $75k by his first employer (Stifel) after making them $4m in fees is palpable. He quit for Triago, which pays for performance and where deal fees are disseminated to employees 'virtually the day checks arrive.'   

The French firm's office in New York City is reportedly staffed with a "younger, hungrier, more directed set of people" as a result. Swain is their leader. Other 28-year-olds grinding in banks to become VPs or earn ever-shrinking amounts of carried interest in private equity, might wonder where they went wrong. 

Separately, a 2021 court case for which the judge's decision was published only last week highlights the extent to which banks need to be aware of employees' mental health issues. 

Concerning an unnamed employee at UBS known only as 'Courtney', the case describes the female executive's generalised anxiety disorder during her period of employment with the bank. It rules that she was disabled by her symptoms and says the bank would have been discriminating against her if it didn't take her condition into consideration. 

It's not clear whether Courtney still works for UBS, but her condition considerably precedes this year's forced merger with Credit Suisse. She became anxious after being made to leave home by her mother aged 16, and developed obsessional traits and fears after her son was born. These included: driving two hours to buy organic food in the Cotswolds most weekends; only shopping from Planet Organic in London; avoiding radiation from mobile phone masts; refusing to drink tap water; and lugging a large air filter around.  

"The adverse effects [of her condition] were substantial," ruled the judge. The implication is that Courtney can now sue UBS for discrimination for letting her go or failing to take her condition into account.

Meanwhile...

Bobby Jain, the ex-Millennium executive founding a hedge fund his year has hired Jonathan Barton from Bank of America to be his chief operating officer. (Business Insider) 

Dymon Asia Capital, a Singaporean hedge fund, has hired 24 portfolio managers in the past year, including ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managing director Jaewon Yu. (Bloomberg) 

Reid Snellenbarger, Lazard's co-head of restructuring in North America, was fired for allegedly inappropriately touching colleagues at an offsite. (Bloomberg) 

People are streaming out of Binance. It's made dozens of layoffs and the general counsel, chief strategy officer, head of investigations and a senior vice president for compliance have all left. (WSJ) 

Koen van Velsen, a former JPMorgan banker who joined Citigroup to lead its industrials coverage in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2014, is leaving the bank. Enrico Prato, who joined in 2011, has been promoted in his place. (Financial News) 

RBC let go of Bianca Gould, its co-head of European electronic sales and trading. (The Trade)

Saudi National Bank wanted to increase its stake in Credit Suisse to around 40% from 9.88%, but was prevented from doing so by Swiss regulator FINMA. (Reuters) 

Tom Hayes burst into tears when he learned he had another chance to appeal his LIBOR conviction. (Bloomberg) 

Six more women accused Crispin Odey of sexual assault or harassment. The accusations have disturbing similarities. (Financial Times) 

People are paying $3k for a work from home coach. "I've had clients who are literally crying because they hate going to the office and they are struggling to get a job.” (Bloomberg) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • An
    Anon12345
    10 July 2023

    Hardly surprising the allegations against Odey are similar, most of these types of allegations against anyone are there's a pattern to them. Until the accusations are tested and proven they remain just that, accusations. Worth also mentioning that previous allegations against Odey were tested in court and found not to be true.

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