Earlier this year, Bloomberg Markets magazine named Don Brownstein, former philosophy professor and founder of Structured Portfolio Management the best performing large hedge fund manager of 2010, having returned 49.5 percent (after 134.6 percent in 2009). Now a lawsuit by one of his former traders, Jeffrey Kong, is shedding light on some of the secrets to Brownstein’s success, which may have involved referencing scenes from The Untouchables over the course of a trading day, like the when he would allegedly conduct staff meetings by walking around conference room tables slapping a baseball bat in his palm and threatening to murder people.
“Brownstein’s management style was, at times questionable,” Kong said in a court filing. “For example, as in the famous scene from the movie “The Untouchables,” Brownstein would often walk around the crowded conference room table while slapping the palm of his hand with a baseball bat, stopping behind me while stating, `I’ll kill you if you leave. The only way you can leave this firm is in a body bag.'”
Pop culture apparently wasn’t the only thing that made Don tick, according to Kong, who is seeking to “recover” millions lost (Brownstein is doing the same) in an alleged breach of contract when he resigned in May 2010 and took a job at a rival fund.
Kong’s filing paints Brownstein as often playing solitaire on his computer.
Assuming the allegations are true, a couple thoughts come to mind here:
1) So the guy has great taste in movies and a knack for DeNiro impressions- it’s not like he went through with the whole Untouchables scene, which would have involved beating someone to death. Everyone has a line they won’t cross and that’s his. While no names are necessary, I think we all know that there are a good number of people in this industry who would’ve gone through with the bludgeoning without hesitation. Let’s just say, it could’ve been a lot worse.
2) The riffing and solitaire may some how have contributed to Brownstein’s success. Got him in the zone or something. Any managers who’ve had a run of bad luck should consider giving both a try.
Lawsuit Claims Hedge Fund Manager Had Untouchable Managerial Style [Stamford Advocate]