When Steve Cohen began to rise like a zaftig phoenix from the ashes of an SEC-mandated timeout, he made it unsubtly clear that SAC 2.0 would be a kinder, gentler, ethical an perhaps even totally legal version of the legend that he had created and tarnished.
And thus, Point72 Asset Management was born. Steve's new fund would be an ethical hothouse of edgeless edge, staffed by traders that Cohen grew himself, and were therefore untainted by working for guys like...Steve Cohen? Point72 would be a Woker place to trade, using only good people, good ideas and their own money to make billions on risk. Essentially, Point72 was going to be the hedge fund version of an evangelical megachurch founded by a reformed biker who used to deal meth.
But while we were aware that some parts of the original Point72 vision board had fallen by the wayside, we were not prepared for yesterday's news that SAC 2.0 would be the newest name in the #MeToo conversation:
A female executive at the investment firm run by Steven A. Cohen, the billionaire investor, said in a lawsuit that the company was a testosterone-fueled “boys’ club” in which men commented on women’s bodies, belittled their abilities and paid them less than their male peers.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court Monday by a current employee of Mr. Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management, describes a toxic working environment for women. Those with years of experience were often referred to as “girls” or “sweethearts.” Some were excluded from meetings that were deemed for men only, the lawsuit said.
Obviously, this kind of stuff was never acceptable and is now finally being treated as such...but...also...Steve Cohen fostering a toxic working environment is nothing new. In fact, he used to (allegedly) foster one for ever employee regardless of gender. And in addition to observing everyone in eerie silence via hidden camera, rank and file were (allegedly) incentivized to break the law in order to survive. Gender discrimination is inexcusable, but the fact that Steve Cohen is now being accused of allowing lazy misogyny and not despotic capitalist cruelty feels like a sad form of progress. And it almost makes us hopeful that he has the tools to address what's in this lawsuit.
But, hey, maybe we're missing something?
At Point72, women make up fewer than 3 percent of the managing directors, according to the discrimination lawsuit, which was brought on behalf of Lauren Bonner, an associate director. Of the firm’s 125 portfolio managers — top traders who decide which stocks to buy and sell — one is a woman. There are no women on the firm’s hiring or executive committee.
That's pretty bad. But if we're being objective, Point72 does have a woman MD, a woman COO and a woman running Steve's pet project "Point72 Academy." That's pretty woeful in a vacuum but in comparison to SAC Capital, this is also - dare we say it? - an improvement. And in comparison to the hedge fund industry at large? Well, let's not kid ourselves.
But before we get too begrudgingly optimistic, how "toxic" does Bonner allege that things are for women at Point72?
For several weeks last year, a whiteboard in the office of a top executive had the word “pussy” written on it, leaving the firm’s few senior women feeling uneasy, according to the lawsuit. A person who worked at the firm confirmed the incident.
That's 40% dumb, 60% lazy, and 100% proof that Point72 is not doing its best to comply with the new world order. That said, this is also rather tame by what we know about peak asshole behavior during the golden era at funds like SAC and Galleon. While we know a lot more about the debauchery and animal behavior at Galleon (because no one could shut up about it) the whisper network around SAC (which was always cultishly insular) has leaked out some truly wild tales of its own. And that's not surprising when taking into consideration that shitty behavior was the industry norm for a while there. It's stupid and awful that someone wrote "Pussy" on a whiteboard in an office that he shared with female colleagues, but someone also erased it. For what we know about SAC, this feels like baby steps.
This lawsuit should at the very least be heeded and acted upon by Cohen in order to make some cultural improvements at his new operation before it starts taking outside money. Bonner it would be unfair of us not to mention that Cohen has at least made every outward sign that he's trying...
Mr. Cohen has emphasized Point72’s commitment to the highest ethical standards, which the firm boasts about in its mission statement. He brought in former federal prosecutors to oversee compliance at the firm.
Kevin O’Connor, a former United States attorney for Connecticut, was hired as general counsel. Douglas Haynes, once a top executive at the consulting firm McKinsey, was brought in as Point72’s president.
Both men are responsible for overseeing the firm’s cultural cleanup.
See? SAC is on the CASE. O'Connor is a hard-charing Rudy Giuliani acolyte that Trump Transition Team Borrowing Steve Cohen’s Lawyer For Help With Draining The Swamp
">served on the Trump transition team but then walked away from that disaster, and Haynes worked at fucking McKinsey. They seem like the perfect guys to make sure that this type of "finance bro" horseshit doesn't infect Point72 just as it opens its coffers to outside money...
Mr. Haynes is named as a defendant. The lawsuit said he had once ridiculed a female executive as a “dumb blond.” The whiteboard mentioned in the suit was in Mr. Haynes’s office.
And the suit quoted Mr. O’Connor as having said to colleagues that “the reality is that this is just a really tough place for women, and that’s not going to change.”
Well, we know wher Steve can start with his housecleaning. But hey, at least no one's committed a felony yet!
The bottom line here is that Point72 obviously has to do way better with its treatment of women going forward, but thanks to the soft bigotry of (exceedingly) low expectations, we can't stop from realizing that Steve Cohen might actually be showing improvement on his path to true Wokeness.