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Morning Coffee: MD banker accused of punching woman preaches good judgment to juniors. The extreme competitiveness of Goldman Sachs MDs

52 year-old Moelis & Co. managing director (MD) Jonathan Kaye did not have a good weekend. Whether or not he is the man in the video on social media punching a woman on the street at Brooklyn Pride on Friday night and being told "you are an asshole, you are a horrible person," he's named as such by the Daily Mail and the New York Post, while Bloomberg reports that Moelis is investigating what the firm describes as a "serious incident" involving one of its employees and notes that the employee is named as Kaye by the social media post. So far, it's been viewed nine million times.

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Kaye has removed his LinkedIn profile. He didn't respond to an attempt to email him at an address matching the Moelis & Co. email format and Moelis didn't respond to our query. However, Moelis & Co. told Bloomberg: “We take this matter very seriously and are conducting an investigation.”

Kaye joined Moelis from Citi in 2013. He runs the boutique firm's global business services franchise. Speaking on a podcast last year, he said that he often mentors junior bankers and that empathy and good decision making are critical to success. Any position you have in finance will be down to judgment, said Kaye. He added that as a banker it's imperative to manage your reputation carefully and to stay away from toxic people. Kaye sits on the managing committee at Moelis & Co. and his withdrawn LinkedIn profile indicates that he's both a partner and a managing director. 

Comments on social media in defence of the man in the video point out that his jacket is wet, indicating that there's more to the incident than is being presented. There are suggestions that he may have feared that acid was being thrown at him, that he was reacting to antisemitism, or that the woman or women involved in the incident may have been transgender. An unverified post on Instagram account WallStreetGossip, citing "people from his team," claims that Kaye was walking by a pro-Palestinian protest and had been thrown to the ground because he was Jewish. 

Others dispute that the punch is defensible. "We have to stop letting white men walk away from committing violence like this because it teaches other white men they can act this way too," says one on X.Writing on Wall Street Oasis, one user says the level of force used by the man throwing the punch was disproportionate. Another says Kaye is a "legend" at Moelis & Co. 

In 2022, James Iannazzo, a Merrill Lynch financial advisor was fired and charged with bigotry after shouting at a smoothie shop employee who served his son a peanut butter smoothie that resulted in his son being hospitalized with a severe allergic reaction. Iannazzo's FINRA registration indicates that the charge was dismissed and that he now works for Aegis Capital Corporation in Westport. 

Separately, Goldman Sachs bankers have been talking to Business Insider about how competitive they all are. "We always want to win all the bake-offs or understand why we didn't win," Gene Sykes, co-chairman of global mergers and acquisitions and technology, media, and telecommunications banking, told BI. "We have an intensely performance-based culture, which is competitive, but not against each other; it's competitive against other institutions," he added. 

If you're a Goldman MD this is a bit wearing. "The reality was we wanted 100% market share, which is actually unattainable, but that was sort of what you strive to do," one former Goldman MD recalls. "It was kind of a crazy way to live your life. I would wake up every morning and, in the early days, check the newspaper and, in the later days, check your phone and make sure there wasn't some deal that happened that you didn't do. And we definitely felt the losses, the pain of the losses, way more than we felt the wins."

Despite Sykes' claim that the competitiveness doesn't manifest internally, Dan Dees, Goldman's global co-head of banking and markets, acknowledges that it can mean that everyone wants to be on the bank's management committees "Every time one of those committees has been formed over the last 30 years, it's had great people who want to be on them and people who aren't on them but want to be," he said. "It's the nature of the ambition of the place." In March, Gonzalo Garcia, a natural resources banker and Goldman partner resigned, apparently after being excluded from the investment banking operating committee. 

Meanwhile... 

High-Flyer Capital Management, a Chinese quantitative hedge fund, has grown into a roughly $8bn asset manager since its launch in 2015, partly by using AI and algorithms. It has a new AI model, DeepSeek-V2, that can answer questions, write code and reason. (Financial Times) 

Bank of America plans to add people incrementally in France. "Definitely more than a dozen” hires this year. (Bloomberg) 

Barclays hired Christian Wagner from Morgan Stanley as head of investment banking for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. (Barclays)

Bank of America hired Perella Weinberg technology banker Kempton Dunn. (Bloomberg) 

The Federal Appeals Court struck down the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules requiring hedge funds and private equity firms to detail quarterly fees and expenses to investors. (Bloomberg) 

Private asset funds are making big money buying secondary investments which they mark-up immediately, no matter how little they initially paid for them. The fund's say they're following accounting rules. But what if the discounted prices on the secondary market are the more accurate gauge of the investments’ real-life values? Then the asset values for stakes on countless other investors’ balance sheets may be inflated. (WSJ)

There's been an exodus of talent at the New York Fed since John Williams arrived in 2018. (Bloomberg) 

The removal of non-competes is likely to lead to more litigation as firms become more touchy about people using secret information at competitors. (Bloomberg) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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