Frmr Top BrokerDealer Babe Meets Bitcoin

blythe masters

(–Blythe Masters, once considered the “Babe of BrokerDealers” in view of her long tenure at investment bank JPMorgan—which included her being credited for helping to create credit default swaps (CDS), has since aspired to be known as the Blockchain Batgirl through her new role as CEO of the bitcoin-buttressed startup Digital Asset Holdings.

Despite the fact Ms. Masters is undeniably a bona fide member of any Masters of the Universe Club (sic Tom Wolfe/Bonfire of the Vanities)—and however much “blockchain technology” has inspired a cadre of banks and broker-dealers to get on board a train that could evolutionize the financial industry at large, and despite a potential death-knell magazine cover story in October of this year courtesy of Bloomberg Magazine, Masters’ foray into the world of fintech startup funding is proving to be bumpy at best, as the blue ocean this blue-eyed blonde s is swimming in is already populated with migrant banker’s bodies floating ashore and otherwise left beside the yellow-brick road to billion dollar Unicorn valuations.

Notes NY Times business news journalist Nathaniel Popper—one of the 4th estate’s leading bitcoin industry experts, Digital Asset Holdings is running into the types of startup funding challenges that mostly all mortals encounter when pitching ideas scrapped from a whiteboard: questionable valuation, untested technology value proposition, a highly-fragmented and often dysfunctional target audience, and last but not least, an investment structure that is being increasingly challenged for giving preferential ownership treatment to a select group of early investors. In this case, Digital Asset Holdings is providing a very sweet deal and a very exclusive suite of follow-on round financing options to its anchor investor, which happens to be her former employer, JPMorgan.

To continue reading the story courtesy of, please click here

Did JPMorgan Commit Fraud To Silence Whistle-Blower?

jpmorgan whistleblower

Behemoth brokerdealer and six pack bank JPMorgan has had its share of blow backs consequent to pushing envelopes, but recent story via NY Times profiling former broker Johnny Burris comes straight out of the “Tell-Me-This-Really-Isn’t-True Dept”–and causing at least several former federal prosecutors to ponder whether JPMorgan could be charged with various counts of wire fraud, aside from libel charges, in an obvious attempt by mid-level bank executives to silence a whistle-blower.

Here’s the simple summary-according to NYT reporting, JPMorgan knowingly submitted phony customer complaints to industry regulator Finra in an effort to malign the integrity and reputation of broker Johnny Burris in an effort to discredit his whistle-blowing charges that JPMorgan pressured brokers to sell house products that were either not suited for certain clients, or were products that were considerably more expensive than those clients could have purchased from other providers.

Courtesy of extract from 4 December front page business section of NYT and reporting by Nathaniel Popper….

Johnny Burris, a former broker at JPMorgan Chase, might have known he was walking into a minefield when he decided to go public with his concerns about his former employer.

Mr. Burris complained in 2013 that JPMorgan was pressuring brokers like him to sell the bank’s own mutual funds even when the offerings from competitors were more suitable. A few weeks after an article in The New York Times about Mr. Burris’s concerns appeared, complaints from some of his former clients in Arizona began showing up on his disciplinary records that are maintained by a regulatory agency and publicly available.

The client complaints made it hard for Mr. Burris to get another job and helped scuttle his case against JPMorgan for wrongful termination. But when Mr. Burris recently reached two of the clients whose names had been on the complaints, they told him they had not, in fact, written the complaints — a JPMorgan employee had.

Carolyn Scott, the ostensible author of one of the letters complaining about Mr. Burris, said in a recent interview with The Times that she had not written the document, but had signed it without knowing the contents after a JPMorgan employee had told her it was something that could help her “get some money back.”

“I was stupid enough I didn’t read it myself,” Ms. Scott said. “I had no problems with Johnny. No problems whatsoever.”

Another man who supposedly wrote a letter of complaint was, it turned out, essentially unable to read or write, and said in an interview that he had never had an issue with Mr. Burris. investigators located Mr. Burris’s record of phony complaints via Finra BrokerCheck

“I would never have known how to draft a complaint letter, nor could I have drafted the letter in question,” the man said in a declaration that he recently signed in front of a notary public to support Mr. Burris — after the declaration was read back to him aloud.

For Mr. Burris, the explanation behind these complaints was clear: This was retaliation for his criticism of JPMorgan, though retaliation carried out poorly.

“How do you believe I feel knowing that the bank solicited, drafted false, erroneous complaints about me?” he wrote to JPMorgan in late October, after speaking with his old clients.

During the arbitration in 2014, Mr. Burris’s lawyer asked his former supervisors if anyone at JPMorgan had helped draft the complaints and was told: “Absolutely not.”

This week, though, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan, Patricia Wexler, said that one of Mr. Burris’s former colleagues, Laya Gavin, had, in fact, assisted the clients as a courtesy “by typing up what they told her verbally, reading it back to them for accuracy, and submitting them for review.”

Both clients involved disputed that description of the events and said that the complaints Ms. Gavin wrote up did not reflect their sentiments and added that Ms. Gavin had not read the complaints to them before having them sign the documents.

A spokeswoman for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Michelle Ong, said that her organization was “aware of these allegations” about the complaints and was looking into them. Finra is the agency that maintains broker disciplinary records.

Keep reading the NYT story by Nate Popper via this link

This BrokerDealer Gives Back and Helps Lead The Way

army ranger lead the way fund marketsmuse update blog update is honored to re-play the news update profiling minority brokerdealer Mischler Financial’s mission to support Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund, the non-profit dedicated to supporting the families of US Army Rangers killed in the line of duty and service-disabled Rangers and their families in need of financial support that is not made available by the federal government.

(r) Mischler Fixed Income Trader Glen Capelo (c) Duke University Coach K” Krzyzewski (r) Mischler CEO Dean Chamberlain

(r) Mischler Fixed Income Trader Glen Capelo (c) Duke University Coach K” Krzyzewski (r) Mischler CEO Dean Chamberlain

Oct 5 2015–Stamford, CT and Newport Beach CA–Mischler Financial Group, Inc., the financial industry’s oldest and largest institutional brokerage and investment bank owned and operated by Service-Disabled Veterans is pleased to have served as a Silver Sponsor for the 2015 Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund Gala. Silver Sponsors contributed a minimum of $25,000; proceeds to Lead The Way are dedicated to support service-disabled US Army Rangers and the families of Rangers who have died, have been injured or currently serving in harm’s way around the world.

This year’s annual gala took place September 30 at New York’s Chelsea Piers and NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw served as Master of Ceremonies. The 2015 Lead The Way event paid tribute to 5-time NCAA champion and college basketball legend Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, a US Military Academy at West Point Graduate (USMA ’69) and a former classmate of Mischler’s Founder and Chairman Walt Mischler. Coach K served two tours of duty prior to his career as a world famous university basketball coach.

Mischler Financial’s VP of Capital Markets Robert MacLean (USMA ’02), who served seven years as a US Army Ranger and is a two-time recipient of the Bronze Star, served as a member of this year’s Lead The Way Fund Host Committee. MacLean shared that honor with a short list of military veterans who have since forged a path on Wall Street at firms that include among others, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, Barclays, and Fortress Investment Group.

After Coach K retired as a Captain in the US Army, he then served five years as Head Coach for the USMA before accepting the role of Head Basketball Coach for Duke University’s Blue Devils in 1980. During the past 35 years, Coach K has not only led his team to five NCAA champions, he has dedicated the past nearly four decades to contributing his thought leadership to an assortment of national and local philanthropic initiatives.

Stated Mischler Financial Group CEO Dean Chamberlain, also an alumnus of the USMA (’85) who served two tours of duty prior to injuries sustained in the line of duty, “In addition to personal contributions on the part of our firm’s leaders, Mischler provides year-round support to a select group of military veteran and SDV-focused philanthropies and we are particularly honored and proud to continue our ongoing support of Lead The Way, one of the most impactful organizations dedicated to providing assistance to military veterans and their families.”

Broker-Dealers and Bankers Bolster Use of Uber In Pre-IPO Lobbying

The current over-bubbly Silicon Valley “Unicorn” wave, which advances the notion of ‘stay private’ and eliminates the need to take a company public when there is an over-abundance of private equity cash available to prop up the so-called enterprise value, has led to a dearth of IPO deals and by extension, has crimped the wallets of brokerdealers and investment bankers who garnish big fees and commissions from the initial public offering process. Have no fear, to win over ride-sharing whale Uber in advance of their ultimate IPO, Bankers are pulling out the stops.

Wall Street bankers and broker-dealers are notorious for climbing over walls to win over whales in advance of the ultimate monetization event. In the case of Uber, the biggest Unicorn of them all, with a private market valuation of more than $50billion, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and other major investment banks have launched a pre-IPO lobbying campaign by banning the ubiquitous line-up of black car services esconsed outside  their palatial Wall Street homes, and instead, they are offering their brokers special compensation to embrace the use of Uber so as to win over the senior executives who will decide on this decade’s potentially biggest initial public offering mandate for investment bankers.

f7622be21d3caa14_rolls_eyes.xxxlargeIn a July 10  NYT story by Nathaniel Popper, which has been re-purposed by tens of dozens of media outlets, we give credit where credit is due and share the following excerpt from Popper’s column:

“..The latest reminder came this week when JPMorgan Chase announced that it would reimburse all of its employees for rides taken with Uber — offering access to “Uber’s expanding presence and seamless experience,” the company said in a news release.

JPMorgan made its decision long after other parts of corporate America were already hailing cars through the California start-up. But banks have recently shown a fondness for the service — with Goldman making the company part of its official travel policy in late May and Morgan Stanley putting out its own news release about its Uber use late last year.

Bank experts were quick to note that these moves come as the banks are jockeying to win a coveted spot managing Uber’s initial public offering — one that is not yet scheduled but that is assumed to be coming in the not-too-distant future. The I.P.O. for Uber, whose fund-raising so far has pegged its valuation at $50 billion, will most likely be the blockbuster I.P.O. in whatever year it takes place. provides a comprehensive global database of broker-dealers located in more than 30 countries across the free world.

A spokeswoman for JPMorgan said that the Uber news release this week had nothing to do with an I.P.O. and was instead part of the bank’s broader business relationship with the company. It does, though, fit squarely within a hallowed tradition of banks going to sometimes amusing lengths to secure a prized initial offering and the significant fees and reputational lift that it can provide.

“On the margin, sometimes the little incremental thing will make the difference,” said Lise Buyer, who advises start-ups looking at initial offerings. “Anything that a bank can do on the margin to improve their odds will probably be useful.”

The softer side of the sales pitch has taken on many forms over the years. When was going public, Ms. Buyer said that banks presented their pitch books to the company in the form of bound books, to celebrate Amazon’s book-selling roots. Other bankers have made humorous videos about the company they were proposing to bring to the stock market.

One of the most storied practitioners of the hard and soft sell of potential clients was the JPMorgan banker Jimmy Lee, who died unexpectedly last month.

Mr. Lee placed a G.M. car in the lobby of JPMorgan’s headquarters on Park Avenue when General Motors executives came in to consider whether to use the bank for the carmaker’s return to the public markets after the financial crisis. (JPMorgan participated.)

A few years later, Mr. Lee was in a custom-made Facebook hoodie — a sharp departure from his normal pinstripe suit — when Mark Zuckerberg visited JPMorgan before his company’s initial offering. (The bank took part in that one, too.)

These sorts of efforts have a well-grounded logic for the companies shopping for a bank. A banker taking a company public has to sell the shares of the company to investors — and thus needs to show an understanding of what the company does.

For the full story at the NY Times, click here

BrokerDealer-Backed Symphony Is Singing Happy Tune

symphony blog update is courtesy of coverage from Tech Talk and profiles the latest from Symphony, the brokerdealer-backed financial communications program that is looking to make the Bloomberg terminals (or at least their most-used messaging application) mute.

This David v. Goliath type battle pitting well-backed upstarts against the ubiquitous Bloomberg LP could become a trend among other aspiring fintech, trading system and specialty financial data providers when considering last week’s snafu that, for a few hours, rendered the Bloomberg LP terminal farm “tradus interruptus” across the globe (albeit, the fix was made prior to the opening bell of US markets.)

Tom Glocer
Tom Glocer

As spotted first by of all places, the NY Post, “Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters and a managing partner of Angelic Ventures, is joining Symphony’s board of directors, according to a person directly familiar with the company’s plans (according to the NY Post).”

Symphony, which received a $66 million investment last year from 15 financial companies has been seen as a viable alternative to the $24,000-a-year Bloomberg terminal.

The company’s backers include a who’s who of Wall Street financial companies: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNY Mellon, BlackRock, Citadel, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Jefferies, JPMorgan, Maverick, Morgan Stanley, Nomura and Wells Fargo.

Last fall, these companies contributed $66M to finance Symphony, and using that money, purchased Perzo, a company that was building a secure communications platform. After the purchase, they named Perzo founder David Gurle as Symphony CEO.

In addition to providing encrypted chat services, Symphony doesn’t store any communications as a third party, and allows a bank’s compliance officers to stop chats from leaving the company — an increasingly important factor for banks who are seeing chat records in court papers.

The addition of Glocer is only the latest of alum of the news and financial data company to join Symphony.

David Gurle, Symphony’s founder and CEO, was global head of collaborative services at Thomson Reuters, and worked on the company’s chat tool, according to the company’s Web site.

In addition to Gurle, there’s Eran Barak, Symphony’s global head of business operations, and Koray Oztekin and Ann Demirtjis, who do product management, according to the company’s Web site.
At least four other Symphony employees in business development have formerly worked at Thomson Reuters, according to LinkedIn.

Symphony is already in wide use at Goldman Sachs, which led the round of funding last year. The service is expected to be broadly rolled out to Wall Street by July.