Broker Junkets Are Back (But Only 70% As Drunk)

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Time was, if you were a successful broker on Wall Street, your company sent you on trips to mingle with other top producing brokers, at which the only planned activities included playing golf, getting drunk, and falling ass-backward into the pool. Then the financial crisis hit and suddenly firms couldn't afford the bad press associated with a gaggle of their employees passing out naked on the ninth hole at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay. Well now they can!

To a point. The trips are back but now they included actual business-related events, which some people are finding is kind of a buzz kill.

In late April, a few hundred of Morgan Stanley's top stockbrokers and their spouses jetted off to Hawaii for a gathering spiced with golf, deep-sea fishing and suntanning. When they arrived at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, on Maui, the first perks of their all-expenses-paid trip were waiting for them: "pillow gifts" of GoPro cameras and Maui Jim sunglasses, according to one attendee. With the stock market at record levels and wealth-management fees rising, Wall Street is reviving posh "recognition'' junkets that were abruptly suspended in the 2008-2009 financial meltdown, when banks taking government bailouts wanted to avoid the appearance of extravagance. Morgan Stanley's Hawaii gathering was its most lavish since the crisis and its first outside of the continental U.S., according to advisers.

Industry executives and analysts say the return of the junket reflects the bullish market and growing competition for top revenue-producing brokers, who, in addition to high pay, expect significant rewards for their efforts. Still, trips aren't as costly as those in precrisis days, and many now include work-related education and training. "Prerecession, those trips were nothing but fun, but those are never coming back," said Steven Dudash, a financial adviser and president of IHT Wealth Management in Chicago, who has been in the industry for 15 years and recently left a job at Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch. [...] "In the old days it was basically you went and didn't have to attend any meetings or seminars. You just went to Paradise Island or Puerto Rico and had a good time," said one Wells Fargo broker. "Now you're in meetings most of the day. I feel sometimes I'd rather be back in my office."

Wall Street Revives Reward Junkets for Top Brokers [WSJ]

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UBS Broker May Have Taken Stress Of The Job Out On 70 Windows In Beverly Hills, Encino Using "Slingshot Projectiles"

This is his story. The unlikely suspect in a string of window breakings in Beverly Hills -- a 58-year-old Encino investment adviser -- may be connected to 70 additional cases in the area, authorities said. Michael Steven Poret, a broker at UBS Financial Services, was arrested in Encino last week. Police say that Poret vandalized numerous businesses along Ventura Boulevard and several private homes in Beverly Hills. A witness account and private surveillance footage have depicted the vandal as a graying man in white gloves firing marbles at plate glass windows with a slingshot from the driver's seat of his car, then driving away in no apparent hurry. Authorities believe that Poret could be connected to more than 20 vandalism incidents in Beverly Hills and more than 50 in Encino, as well as several other vandalism reports authorities have received in Van Nuys and Topanga Canyon. The vandal appears to target businesses indiscriminately, hitting coffee shops, an autism treatment center and a salon. Luie Velasquez, a detective with the West Valley division of the Los Angeles Police Department, said the police's top theory is that the suspect sought excitement. "Your guess is as good as mine," Velasquez said. "For whatever reason, these individuals get some sort of thrill from smashing windows." Poret was first arrested July 3 after a Beverly Hills patrol officer spotted a slingshot in his vehicle during a traffic stop for a vehicle code violation. A search of his vehicle revealed brass knuckles, knives and slingshot projectiles. Poret was arrested again Thursday in an early morning raid on his Encino home, where police discovered firearms, bb guns, slingshots and marbles similar to those used in the window-breakings. A very understanding victim whose windows were hit three times and cost him $7,000 to repair had this to say: "I mean, I know that an investment bankers* are a little nuts. But you know, maybe the market is that bad. I don't get that. He must be a very frustrated guy." Alleged window-smashing broker may be suspect in 70 more cases [LATimes via TRB] *All together now: broker ≠ investment banker ≠ trader ≠ bank teller