Skip to main content

The 'Brotherhood' Of The SAC

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Bloomberg Markets magazine has a long profile on SAC Capital today, and the grand poobah who runs the place, Stevie C. For those of you who've never had the pleasure of working for the king, here's a bit of a primer.

* For the serious neophytes, who should be ashamed of themselves for not knowing the big man's likes and dislikes: "He doesn't like noise, so the phones on the floor don't ring; they light up." Make one move, one audible squeak that disturbs him, be it a hiccup or moan of ecstasy at the hand of a whiteboard marker and you're out of there.

* Don't forget your fleece ("Cohen maintains the temperature on the trading floor at 69 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) to make sure no one dozes") though in all seriousness, I'd slay a newborn if one of you would offer yourselves up as a test to see what exactly would happen were you caught sleeping on the floor during the course of a trading day. For extra points, make your snoring audible about 15 minutes from the close, and once he approaches your desk, open your eyes like he just woke you up and go "I'm tired baby what are you doing?" then roll over and close your eyes again. Oh, someone please do this. Berkowitz, I know you don't sit on the floor, but please, take one for the team.

* If you don't know your shit, you are gonna get called out. Simple as that: "If a portfolio manager or analyst can't answer a question about a stock, Cohen is likely to lash out. 'Do you even know how to do this f---ing job?' is a standard barb, current and former employees say." I see nothing wrong with this.***

* And guess what, fucksticks? You're not the only ones who will get the horns if you mess with this bull. Remember this? What the short clip didn't include was what happened later in the show: "Cohen...spars with a man in a muscle shirt in the audience after admitting he slept with his ex-wife while courting Alexandra."

* Okay, but enough about how you're going to get your ass stomped inside out for being an idiot or audibly breathing, which you'll have probably deserved. Working at SAC can be really fun too. Like a Saturday night at the Laugh Factory: "The boss has a sense of humor that's dry, along the lines of Jerry Seinfeld, former employees say. In September 2008, before Lehman's bankruptcy, Cohen sent a companywide e-mail: It's all up to the government now. I have no idea what will happen. Good luck to you all. This is a recording." (Also: the "Steve-isms." Oh that you should one day have the "Steve-isms" in your life.)

* There will be a quiz on this: "Working at SAC is tough, even as hedge funds go. One of the worst aspects, at least for people who like weekends, is Sunday "homework." Every week from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Cohen has his portfolio managers and analysts call in to tell him what's coming up that week for the companies they follow." If you can't cut it, like one former analyst who "says she worked every weekend one summer before, fed up, she quit," good riddance.

* And you should be so lucky as to work every day all summer. Goldman's 57 interview process is child's play compared to what SAC's gonna put you through. " interview process that can take 14 months, including multiple rounds with executives, including Cohen, and a background check that employees joke will turn up the name of a candidate's second-grade teacher."

* Also, not interested in hearing any bitching about this: "Managers' contracts have 'down-and-out' clauses: lose 5 percent from your peak assets, and SAC can take away half of what remains. Suffer a 10 percent loss, and you could be out. "

* Like basically every company in corporate America, but especially hedge funds, your IMs will be monitored and recorded. There are extra precautions taken at SAC though, so consider not dishing about the bra sizes of your co-workers over AIM, utterly hilarious as the contents of that conversation might be, as someone's probably reading it right now: "Cohen's staff of 800 includes 20 legal and compliance workers who, among other things, monitor instant messages and e-mails, including those sent and received by Cohen."

* Honestly, though, you're gonna love it, especially the camaraderie, not unlike the kind you'd find in a fraternity house or on an ante-bellum slave plantation: "It was a brotherhood," says Dan Cherniack, who with Cohen started the firm that became SAC

* This isn't a 'what it'll be like for you' so much as an opportunity for us to say, how dare you, Bloomberg News: "Cohen prefers jeans and sweaters to suits and looks more like a tax accountant on casual Friday than a trading titan running a $12 billion hedge fund firm."

* And a final plea, to SC. NEVER LEAVE US. "It's Cohen's ability to adapt to a changing environment that's his biggest strength," Infinity Capital's Vale says. "My biggest fear is that he retires." As is mine, Vale. As is mine.

Photo credit: Bloomberg Markets Magazine.

***The young trader meeting with Steve in the Suburban, in the few minutes he had to spare during the drive home, who was told he was so stupid that he didn't deserve to be riding in the car, followed by a silence that implied, "I am seriously considering telling you to get out and walk" may have seen it differently. And that's why he's a B-team player.