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Harrowing Two-Day Interrogation For Would-Be Bank CEO's Not So Harrowing With DB Test-Prep Guide

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Earlier today we learned that executive search committees tasked with finding people to run banks now look for candidates who possess"self-awareness" and "humility," in a departure from pre-crisis hiring practices. Also changing is the CEO interview process, which is much more rigorous and places a significant amount of emphasis on one's ability to deal with a wide array of pressures, from the need to inspire employees whose morale has taken a hit, telegraph confidence on earnings calls, and survive scrutiny by the press. But saying you can do all those things and more during an interview is quite different than actually doing them in real life, which is why some firms have gone so far as to make candidates engage in some high-intensity role-playing.

Recruiter Korn/Ferry International was tapped by a Wall Street firm to put a prospective executive through a two-day interview session in which the candidate played CEO. The candidate had to give a webcast presentation and get filmed being ambushed by people posing as television journalists, among other tests. "It's your most challenging year, crunched down into one day," Mr. Maxwell-Grant says.

For those worried about how they'll perform during the CEO simulation, breathe easy. We've prepared a study guide filled with mock test-prep questions likely to appear on the test, broken down into questions that could be posed by journalists and "scenarios" you might be thrown into. We recommend doing the exercises with a friend or co-worker; to ensure real-life accuracy, they should be completed within 15 minutes.

Questions:

  • Q: Last month you called the $200 billion portfolio amassed by a trader known as the Manchester Whale "a complete tempest in a teapot." Today your firm reported the Whale had cost the firm $60 billion. How do you respond?
  • Q: Any truth to the comments made by Fox Business reporter Charlize Gasparineaux that you won't grant him an interview because you're afraid of him?
  • Q: What do you think of Larry Winters for chairman of the Federal Reserve?
  • Q: Can you comment on the government's case against an employee of yours, Fabrice Navidad, who didn't tell investors that hedge fund manager Jean Valpaulson intended to bet against CDO's he sold them?
  • Q: A former VP of your firm-- who won a bronze medal for shuffleboard at the Maccabiah Games-- has a new book out in which he recounts seeing you "air-drying" after taking a shower at the gym. Do you recall this encounter and was it a "display of power" or simply something "men of an older generation tend to do"?
  • Q: Bank analyst Wheredith Mitney said earlier today that she gives your firm two days left to live. Any truth to that statement?
  • Q: I just got off the phone with a third year analyst from your firm who quit today, and in his resignation said that you "preside over a sexual cesspool where key staffers rip off investors' and each others' clothes with equal abandon." Comment?

Scenarios:

  • Your firm is on the brink of collapse. You're working to orchestrate a deal with the Japanese as your last possible hope. Tim Geithner* keeps calling you from a payphone at the Yonkers DMV because his cell phone is dead and he thinks his passport fell out of his pocket the last time he was at your office and he wants you to look for it. You don't have time for this shit; knowing what you say will probably end up in the Journal the next day, what message do you give your secretary to relay to TG?

Good luck.

*Played by himself.

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Brian Moynihan's 6 Year Nightmare May Soon Be Over

He doesn't have to be afraid anymore.

Carl Icahn Gives Son Four Years To Prove Himself

Ten years ago, Carl Icahn hired his son Brett to be an analyst at Icahn Enterprises and the kid didn't fuck anything up so he got to keep his job. Two year ago, Carl gave Brett and another employee, David Schechter, $300 million to invest under the "Sargon portfolio," and the guys returned 96 percent (before fees) through June. Last month, Carl tossed the duo an additional $3 billion and a contract that expires in 2016, at which time Papa Icahn will either officially Brett a worthy successor or offer to serve as a reference for his next gig. Under a 46-page legal agreement filed with federal regulators last month, Brett Icahn and Schechter will get to invest their boss’s capital in companies with stock market values between $750 million and $10 billion. The deal may free the elder Icahn, who still has final say over many aspects of the portfolio, to focus on larger targets for shareholder activism. Brett, who turns 33 this month, along with Schechter has been running $300 million for his father, who owns more than 90 percent of Icahn Enterprises LP, a holding company with $24 billion in assets including activist investing partnerships as well as the Tropicana casinos, an oil refiner and an auto-parts maker. The arrangement expires after Carl turns 80 in 2016, giving Brett the chance to both prove his mettle as a successor and develop a track record to start his own hedge fund. After hiring Brett as an investment analyst a decade ago, Icahn allocated the $300 million to his son and Schechter in April 2010 to invest in loans and securities of companies with less than $2 billion in equity value. Their investments, internally dubbed the Sargon portfolio, generated a gross cumulative gain of 96 percent by the end of June, according to a July 27 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission...“These two guys doubled our money over the last two years,” the elder Icahn said in an interview. “You can’t complain about that.” Carl Icahn Hands Son Brett $3 Billion To Prove His Mettle [Bloomberg]