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Week in Review

Recent headlines for the financial PR community.

Know when to fold ’em.  What is it with hedge fund managers and high stakes poker?  Business Insider counts down the 22 biggest poker players on Wall Street and the list includes hedge fund heavyweights like, Cliff Asness, Jim Simons, Boaz Weinstein, Carl Icahn, Steve Cohn, David Einhorn and several others.  Gambling and gambling enough to develop a reputation for gambling is bad for managers and bad for the industry.  It confirms what outsiders think about hedge funds and once again needlessly gives journalists an excuse to write about risk-taking and not risk management.  Even when playing for a good cause, like a charity tournament organized by David Einhorn to benefit City Year, gambling for fun has poor optics.  Rally people for a cause.  Rally really rich people for a cause.  Just don’t do it in a way that publicly confirms the suspicions of reporters and others who don’t need new reasons to criticize hedge funds.  Speaking of causes, here’s a great organization making a difference for children with rare endocrine disorders.

In too deep.  Can anything save the reputations of banks?  You can bet it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better and that Barclays is not going to be the only one pilloried over LIBOR.  The Financial Times editorial page, which by its own admission “does not endorse banker-bashing for its own sake,” writes that “for there to be a real change of heart and expectation, it may therefore be necessary to retire this generation of flawed [bank] leaders.”

Bad lattitude.  The Dealbook blog casts a critical eye on how boards of directors are sourced and manned at many hedge funds domiciled in the Cayman Islands.  Its a joke, especially at a time when more fiduciary oversight is expected of directors at corporations, mutual funds, pension funds, and asset managers.  Research by The New York Times shows that it is not uncommon for a single director to serve dozens of funds and one exceptional individual is on the board of 260 hedge funds.  Here’s the kicker from Don Seymour who runs the island’s largest directorship services firm: “We have a bit of a Goldman Sachs problem,” he reflected from his company’s offices at DMS House, a slate-colored stucco building resembling the White House. “We are the worldwide leader in fund governance.”

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