Tragedy of a top Credit Suisse trader with his pregnant wife at home. The most damning indictment of Goldman’s retail banking troubles

No matter what angle you look at it, The death of Ross Mtangi in March 2021 was tragic. A leading equity derivatives dealer at Credit Suisse in New York, Mtangi was just 40 when he took cocaine laced with fentanyl and dead alone in a hotel room. However, in a weekend article, the the wall street journalleaked additional information about Mtangi’s life and death, which makes him all the more saddened.

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

Mtangi’s career was going well. He was global head of flow derivatives trading at Credit Suisse and joined the Swiss bank from Bank of America in 2018 after making a $100 million profit for his former employer. In 2019, then CEO of Credit Suisse Tidjane Thiam called him one of the bank’s top traders when working under Michael Stewart, but Stewart left in July 2019 and Mtangi got a new boss in the form of Michael Ebert, head of equity derivatives. March 2021 was in the middle of the pandemic and Mtangi was working from home and stressed. Although not its domain, the loss of Archegos had just occurred and the investment bank Credit Suisse had lost 2.5 billion francs during that quarter.

Nevertheless, the WSJ describes Mtangi as a healthy person, both mentally and physically. He ran, played basketball and rode his bike to see his sister in Brooklyn. He frequented the posh clubs and got along with everyone. He was “one of the good guys,” a colleague told us when he died. A friend said he was “one of the nicest people”.

Mtangi reportedly spent the night at the hotel and texted his partner and family to say he was fine but needed some alone time. The next day, the alleged drug courier was seen on the hotel’s surveillance system. Mtangi spoke to Ebert that evening, but did not make a follow-up call later that night. The next morning, Ebert called his sister to tell her he was trying to reach him. His sister and her partner rushed to the hotel. He was found dead.

Mtangi was not alone. Two other New Yorkers have also lost their lives to cocaine containing fentanyl. Even a small amount can be fatal for people who have never taken it before. Mtangi’s tragic death is a wake-up call for an industry that often uses drugs as a shortcut to relaxation.

Separately, Goldman Sachs’ cold feet on the retail banking sector appear to have caused conflict internally. The FinancialTimes reports that Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon wanted to maintain a focus on consumer checking accounts, unlike his subordinates. Given that Goldman is pulling out of that side of the business, Solomon appears to have been shunned.

Maybe it’s for the best. The Economist has one of the most damning indictments of Goldman’s retail banking problems: it notes that Goldman’s consumer loan portfolio is one-ninth the size of JPMorgan’s, and yet Goldman expects to lose 13% of its credit card and installment consumer loans, while JPMorgan expects to lose only 6%. As potential consumer losses increase, the appetite for business decreases. In 2019, The Economist said Harit Talwar, then head of Goldman’s consumer effort, allegedly “thanked” Julian Salisbury, one of the investment bank’s top earners, for “earning all the money we let’s spend”. Nowadays, there is less money to spend.

Meanwhile…

Rafael Lopez Lorenzo, Chief Compliance Officer, is leaving Credit Suisse. He joined Credit Suisse in 2015 and was promoted in 2021 to fill the void left by Lara Warner’s exit after Archegos and Greensill. (Bloomberg)

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

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

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

People from Deutsche Bank in New York came to the office and said they couldn’t find anyone. No one is in the office on a Friday, even after layoffs. Dead city.” (New York Post)

Nouriel Roubini is full of joy: “The first nuclear weapon will go to New York. Being in New York is not safe. (New York Post)

British financial expert Martin Lewis has started campaigning for state support for mortgage holders. (Economist)

A hedge fund manager spent $35 million to create a neo-Gothic estate and sold it for $9 million. (WSJ)

The new place for professional outings in London: a Formula 1 hall opens in the City at the end of November (Bloomberg)

Richard Dennis, 58, a former vice president of the bank, earns about $3,000 a month biking all day and dropping off Citi bikes at suitable locations around New York. (Bloomberg)

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