Morning Coffee: The allegations of sexual misconduct at Bank of America just got worse. 30 year-old MD got ahead by being a bit obnoxious
Bank of America's decision to fire Omeed Malik, one of the top executives in its prime brokerage unit, doesn't entirely appear to have stemmed the scandal surrounding Malik's alleged activities at the bank.
Around a month after the decision to fire 38 year-old Malik for allegedly making advances towards colleagues and having relationships with female subordinates, the Wall Street Journal says BofA has also fired Valerie Ludorf and Joe Voboril. Ludorf is a former international figure skater and (now ex-) associate working in capital introductions in the bank's strategy group. Voboril was a senior prime brokerage distribution professional.
The two stand accused of trying to cover up for Malik (who denies sexually harassing colleagues and claims to have been racially harassed himself) by trying to coordinate stories about his behaviour during BofA's investigation. Voboril's attorney said he didn't commit any misconduct.
If true, however, the allegations point to a predatory individual at the top of a key unit of Bank of America in New York, whose colleagues closed in when the bank tried to investigate. The implication is that the issues are systemic and embedded in the culture of the prime brokerage unit, which was under pressure to expand in the wake of the financial crisis. The Wall Street Journal says another male executive who still works for BofA, showed senior colleagues in prime brokerage photographs of a pornography shoot he'd visited in his spare time. Malik, meanwhile, is said to have thwarted the career of a woman who refused his advances and to have pursued,' a series of relationships with subordinates through last year.'
Worse, despite allegations dating back to 2012 that Malik's behaviour was inappropriate, BofA did nothing about it for five years and instead consistently promoted him. The Wall Street Journal notes that, in '"recent years [Malik] was promoted several times, most recently to global head of capital strategy, a position that involved staff around the world reporting to him." Although a female colleague previously complained about him to human resources and herself left the bank, Malik was only fired after another colleague went to HR at the end of 2017 and complained of an unwanted advance."
Bank of America boasts that it's a "diverse and inclusive company." In the case of its prime brokerage division, this seems to have been an exaggeration.
Separately, if you want to get ahead in finance it helps to be a bit bolshy. Business Insider spoke to Malcolm Smith, who became an MD at Blackrock aged just 30 and who now overseees JPMorgan Asset Management's $135 billion international equity group aged 36. If you want to get ahead, it helps to ask awkward questions of your boss, says Smith. "I'm willing to ask the difficult questions, address the big issues, and own them and deal with them," he tells BI. "- You need to listen a lot, but also ask the right questions and be willing to ask the awkward question."
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