Bess Levin

Posts by Bess Levin

brain foodIf Google Ventures and Goldman Sachs represent the prestigious end of OnDeck’s dealings, then merchant cash advance brokers are at the other extreme. The field is rife with unsavory brokerages, staffed by many of the same people who pushed subprime mortgages a decade ago and worked the bottom rung of the stock market in the boiler rooms of the 1990s. One of them is Mario Figueroa, president of Chadwick Cashflow Advances, a brokerage in Saddle Brook, N.J. He got into high-interest small business loans in 2011, shortly after doing time in a Newark halfway house for stock fraud. OnDeck hired his brokerage to market its loans a few years ago, Figueroa says. Near his office in October, over a lunch of pizza, calamari, and tequila shots, his brand-new BMW 6 Series parked outside, he describes how an OnDeck representative offered to pay thousands of dollars for every borrower he brought in. He could hardly believe it was legal to charge such high rates, until he learned that most states’ usury laws don’t apply to business loans. His salesmen, who spend their days cold-calling businesses to offer easy money, are a colorful lot. The list of Figueroa’s past and present employees includes a former hedge fund manager convicted of stock fraud and a recovering heroin addict on probation for a motel stickup gone bad. One new hire stopped coming to work after he robbed a bank. “I saw an opportunity here,” Figueroa says of working with OnDeck. “The banking world is not using the cheap money the government is giving them to fund small businesses. Thank God we exist.” [BusinessWeek]

  • 13 Nov 2014 at 1:26 PM

Bonus Watch ’14: James Gorman Is Proud Of Y’All

James GormanIn late January, in the year of 2012, Morgan Stanley had a lot of unhappy employees on its hands. Bonuses had just been announced, and the majority of the team was displeased. But while some bank CEOs might’ve paid lip service to the group, telling them how important they are despite what their bonus might suggest, or promised the slight would be made up next year, or simply ignored the grumbling and gone about their merry way, Morgan Stanley chief James Gorman was having none of it. “STFU or GTFO,” he essentially told MS employees, during an appearance on BloombergTV, “and don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.” (Actual words: “You’re naive, read the newspaper, No. 1, No. 2, if you put your compensation in a one-year context to define your overall level of happiness, you have a problem which is much bigger than the job. And No. 3, if you’re really unhappy, just leave. I mean, life’s too short.”)

Now, nearly three years later, with what was no doubt a tear in his eye, Gorman had this to say: Read more »

  • 13 Nov 2014 at 10:00 AM

Bonus Watch ’14: UBS

ubsairshipIt’s going to be a cold, dark bonus season at the Swiss bank, thanks to the foreign currency double-teamers who had to ruin things for the whole group. Read more »

gasparinopushups2
Just another day at the office: Fox Senior Delts, Pecs, ‘n Lean Proteins Correspondent Charlie Gasparino demonstrates a push-up with one of his colleagues on his back.

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citi07x-largeDespite “considering a pay increase for analysts and associates” back in August and despite its peers at Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Jefferies, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley already going ahead and doing so, Citigroup is apparently still not sure about this one. Read more »

stevecohensaccapitalThe former SAC portfolio manager, found guilty in September of orchestrating “the most lucrative insider trading scheme ever,” is hoping the Big Guy can save him. Read more »

  • 12 Nov 2014 at 12:46 PM

Goldman Sachs Changes 78 People’s Lives

lloyd-blankfein-and-gary-cohnThe following employees successfully made it through the two-year “cross-ruffing” process and were inducted into the Brotherhood of the Sach this morning. Be sure to send them a congratulatory message at some point today; right now they’re with HR, receiving instructions on how to operate their newly promoted nether regions, which were dipped in gold just an hour ago and can take some time getting used to. Read more »

  • 12 Nov 2014 at 12:14 PM

Dick Fuld Ready To Hit The Party Circuit Again

Ready to partyAfter keeping a fairly low profile over the past 6 years, following the whole implosion of Lehman Brothers situation, Fuld announced Monday night that he’s ready to rock. Text him the details of this weekend’s rager and he’s there, assuming the ole ball and chain doesn’t have other ideas. Read more »