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The tragedy of the 40-year-old trader who seemed to have it all.

Morning Coffee: Tragedy of top Credit Suisse trader with pregnant wife at home. Most damning indictment of Goldman's retail banking problems

Whichever angle you look at it from, Ross Mtangi's death in March 2021 was tragic. A top equity derivatives trader at Credit Suisse in New York, Mtangi was just 40 when he took cocaine laced with fentanyl and died alone in a hotel room. However, in an article over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal, disclosed additional information on Mtangi's life and death, which makes it all the more sad.

Mtangi's partner was pregnant when he died. His son was born three weeks after his death. On the morning before he died, Mtangi said goodbye to her at his 29th floor penthouse in East Manhattan and said he was going to work. Instead, he went to a hotel nearby and took some work calls.

Mtangi's career had been going well. He was Credit Suisse's global head of flow derivatives trading, and joined the Swiss bank from Bank of America in 2018 after making $100m in profit for his former employer. In 2019, then-Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam called him out as one of the bank's top traders when he was working under Michael Stewart, but Stewart left in July 2019 and Mtangi had a new boss in the form of Michael Ebert, head of equity derivatives. March 2021 was the middle of the pandemic and Mtangi had been working from home and was stressed. Although it wasn't his area, the Archegos loss had just happened and Credit Suisse's investment bank had lost CHF2.5bn in that quarter. 

Nonetheless, the WSJ portrays Mtangi as a well-person, both mentally and physically. He ran, he played basketball, and biked to see his sister in Brooklyn.  He frequented fancy clubs and got on with everyone. He was "one of the good guys," a colleague told us when he died. A friend says he was "one of the nicest people."

Mtangi reportedly stayed in the hotel overnight and texted his partner and his family to say he was ok but needed some time alone. The next day, the alleged drug courier was seen on the hotel surveillance system.  Mtangi spoke to Ebert that evening, but didn't make a follow-up call later that night. The next morning, Ebert called his sister to say he was trying to reach him. His sister and partner rushed to the hotel. He was found dead. 

Mtangi wasn't the only one. Two other New Yorkers also lost their lives to the fentanyl-laced cocaine. Even a small amount can prove fatal to people who have never taken it before. Mtangi's tragic death is a warning to an industry which often uses drugs as a shortcut to relaxation.

Separately, Goldman Sachs' cold feet about the retail banking business seems to have caused contention internally. The Financial Times reports that Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon wanted to maintain the focus on consumer checking accounts, while his subordinates did not. Given that Goldman is pulling back from this side of the business, Solomon seems to have been overruled.

It may be for the best. The Economist has one of the most damning indictments of Goldman's retail banking issues: it notes that Goldman's consumer loan book is a ninth of the size of JPMorgan's, and yet Goldman anticipates losing 13% of its consumer credit-card and installment loans, while JPMorgan expects to lose just 6%. As potential consumer losses mount, the appetite for business is dwindling. In 2019, the Economist says that Harit Talwar, then boss of Goldman’s consumer effort, allegedly “thanked” Julian Salisbury, one of the investment bank’s top earners, for “making all the money we’re spending”. Nowadays, there's less money to go around. 

Meanwhile...

Rafael Lopez Lorenzo, the chief compliance officer, is leaving Credit Suisse. He joined Credit Suisse in 2015 and was promoted in 2021 to fill the gap left by the exit of Lara Warner after Archegos and Greensill. (Bloomberg)

Bankers are no good in fintech because they're risk averse, pessimistic, hierarchical and in denial about the future of the industry. (Sifted) 

JPMorgan is hiring 20 bankers in Saudi Arabia. (Bloomberg) 

Deutsche Bank also cut a few people in the UK. (Reuters) 

Deutsche Bank people in New York went to the office and say they found no one. No one is in the office on a Friday — even after layoffs. Ghost town.” (New York Post)

Nouriel Roubini is full of joys: "The first nuclear weapon is gonna go to New York. Being in New York City is not safe.” (NY Post)

British financial pundit Martin Lewis has started to campaign for state support for mortgage holders. (Economist) 

A hedge fund manager spent $35m creating a gothic revival estate and sold it for $9m. (WSJ) 

The new venue for London work outings: a Formula One arcade is opening in the City in late November (Bloomberg)

58-year-old Richard Dennis, a former bank VP, is earning around $3k a month cycling all day and depositing Citi Bikes in appropriate spots around New York City. (Bloomberg) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
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