Moody's Attempts To Ruin Dick Handler's Good Time

Until recently, being chief executive officer of Jefferies was an exercise in getting shit on. As the man in charge for the last 13 years, Richard Handler has had to put up with a lot of hurtful remarks that, while nothing to the person tossing them off, undoubtedly stung quite badly. "Third-tier bank." Place "I wouldn't let my maid's kid work." "Poor man's Morgan Keegan." So you can imagine that after a string of victories over the last several months that included getting involved in the slaughterhouse business and paying all-cash bonuses unlike some people, Handler and Co. would be feeling pretty good about themselves and that after announcing to the world they were getting paid more this year than their counterparts at big kid banks, they'd be feeling REALLY good about themselves. That payday, however, did not go over well when input into Moody's proprietary just-make-it-up credit-rating model, and now Handler's plan to gather everyone up to watch as the board shoots his compensation out of a tee-shirt gun in hundred dollar bills is completely ruined.
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Until recently, being chief executive officer of Jefferies was an exercise in getting shit on. As the man in charge for the last 13 years, Richard Handler has had to put up with a lot of hurtful remarks that, while nothing to the person tossing them off, undoubtedly stung quite badly. "Third-tier bank." Place "I wouldn't let my maid's kid work." "Poor man's Morgan Keegan." So you can imagine that after a string of victories over the last several months that included getting involved in the slaughterhouse business and paying all-cash bonuses unlike some people, Handler and Co. would be feeling pretty good about themselves and that after announcing to the world they were getting paid more this year than their counterparts at big kid banks, they'd be feeling REALLY good about themselves. That payday, however, did not go over well when input into Moody's proprietary just-make-it-up credit-rating model, and now Handler's plan to gather everyone up to watch as the board shoots his compensation out of a tee-shirt gun in hundred dollar bills is completely ruined.*

The credit rating agency said in a note on Monday that it regarded the paychecks awarded to the top managers — its chief executive, Richard B. Handler, and its executive committee chairman, Brian Friedman — as a potentially ominous event for bondholders. (In Moody’s words, “credit negative,” meaning that the pay could contribute to a downgrade of the investment bank’s debt rating.) Mr. Handler’s pay in particular drew a lot of attention. He earned about $19 million last year, including a $5 million cash bonus and a $13 million long-term equity incentive award. And he had the chance to earn about $39 million in restricted stock through 2015 if he met certain performance targets...“While Jefferies has outperformed its peers, an excessive focus on short-term compensation has been at the root of many outsized trading, credit and litigation losses at investment banks,” the Moody’s analysts wrote. They added that the firm has not put in place measures like longer award vesting periods and more expansive powers to claw back compensation.

You couldn't have let him have this?

Moody’s Warns Jefferies on ‘Excessive’ Executive Pay [Dealbook]
Related: Bonus Watch ’13: Jefferies CEOs; Jefferies’ Investment Bank Will Fit In Nicely With Leucadia’s Casino And Slaughterhouse; Bonus Watch ’12: Jefferies Has Got Your Cold Hard Cash Right Here; Bonus Watch ’13: Jefferies Wonders Aloud How Its Ass Tastes
*A committee debated the denomination quite seriously, going back and forth over the merits of singles (takes longer, a plus), hundreds "(I don't know, would $100 bills be impressive enough?") and some combination thereof. Ultimately it was decided that $5 million in cash would still be a lot of 100s, but it was a tough one.

Related

Bonus Watch '12: Jefferies Has Got Your Cold Hard Cash Right Here

Back in the day, as in pre-crisis, bonus season on Wall Street was a happy time. Sure, you still had your miserable pricks who would bitch and moan about the fact that they hadn't gotten as much as the guy who sat next to them, even they the guy who sat next to them was a "non-contributing zero who wouldn't recognize alpha if it bit him in the ass," but prior to to fall 2008, anyone who was unhappy about his or her bonus was a) quibbling over receiving a huge sum of money instead of an imperial fuck-ton of money and b) in a position to actually make good on a threat to jump ship, since firms were hiring. Now, with a few exceptions, bonus season makes people feel sad. Angry. Impotent. Like the world is out to get them. Not only has the total amount of one's bonus come down, but many companies have decreased the cash portion, while increasing the deferral period on stock to, in some cases, almost half a decade. Then you have Jefferies. Last year it let employees decide between an all stock bonus or an all cash bonus with 25% lopped off.  This year the investment bank-cum-butcher shop isn't even forcing anyone to choose, instead dumping a bag of cash on everyone's desk and reminding them who loves 'em.

How Can Wall Street Feel Alive Again?

As some of you may recall, there was a time not too long ago when you could work on Wall Street and be compensated in a way that made you feel special. Appreciated. Loved. Eight, nine, ten-figures of love. Now, obviously, not so much. But that is not what's eating the industry's most fragile spirits of late. They are fine taking pay cuts. They could care less about the money. What they're not fine with is having the rush, the intensity, the adrenaline-pumping fear that comes with, say, putting on a trade in which maybe the firm will make $1 billion or maybe it'll lose $10 billion, WHO KNOWS, IT'S ALL RELATIVE, I CAN'T FEEL MY LEGS, THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO EXCITING taken away from them. Take Sean George. He used to spend his days destroying company property and now, thanks to financial regulation, has had to get his kicks elsewhere. Sean George kneeled in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. He wasn’t praying. A gash below his right brow bled into his eye and down his nose before a knee to his groin sent him to the floor. George, 39, head of credit-derivatives trading at Jefferies, was making his Muay Thai debut at the church June 22 in a sport that allows kicking, elbowing and kneeing. His eye was swelling shut by the time he lost in a split decision. It was the happiest he’s been all year, he said. “Right now at work I’m making less risk decisions -- and I enjoy taking risks,” George, who headed investment-grade credit-default-swap trading at Deutsche Bank AG before he joined Jefferies last year, said in an interview. “If you’re in it for the game and the fight, the game’s over and the fight’s over.” Risk is what drew George and the colleagues he respects to Wall Street, he said. He could bring in millions of dollars in a single month at his peak, and trading was so intense that during one credit-default-swap deal he smashed a phone against his desk, sending part of it three rows away, “one of the records for the best break,” he said. Ethan Garber's lost that tingly feeling in his plums. “There’s no sexiness, there’s no fun, there’s no intellectual intrigue, either,” said Ethan Garber, who ran proprietary credit-arbitrage portfolios for Credit Suisse Group AG and Bear Stearns Cos. “A lot of my friends who actually lingered for the last four years are all now getting fired anyway,” said Garber, 45, currently CEO of IdleAir, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based firm that provides electricity at truck stops. “The air is taken out.” Robert McTamaney has been reduced to doing his best impression of a whiskey-swilling, cigar-chomping newspaper man from the 1940's, who we assume addressed Bloomberg's Max Abelson as "toots" here. “The socks are higher, the skirts are longer,” said McTamaney, who helped run Goldman Sachs’s equities- trading business in Asia. “It’s like styles: They change, and you’ve got to change with it or be left behind.” Former King Street Capital and Bank of America trader Sam Polk isn't gonna lie, the worst part of Wall Street 2.0 is not being able to feel like a god by dropping $10,000 for bottle service on Wednesday nights, and sometimes even Thursdays. “You could be a 20-something trader three years out of school, able to go to any restaurant or club or ballgame on any night that you wanted, and it was totally paid for,” he said. “It was a tremendous feeling of power.” Michael Meyer is dying a slow, painful death. “The light at the end of the tunnel is dim,” said Meyer, now co-head of sales and trading at New York investment bank Seaport Group. Clearly, it's not pretty. But here at Dealbreaker we're about offering solutions, not whining about problems. How can these guys and girls replicate the feelings they once got by taking on risk on the job, if, unlike Sean George, getting kicked in the balls is not their thing? Drinking the carton of milk in the break room that's been sitting out for two days, telling the boss's wife it looks like she's gained a couple pounds, having unprotected sex with a junkie, shouting "You go girl!" at yourself in spin class after being kindly told to "Shut the fuck up" or else, and leaving dirty dishes in the sink all seem like good jumping off points but we can do better. These people need our help. Bloodied Trader Pines For Risk As Wall Street Retreats [Bloomberg]