Those of you who haven’t spent a good deal of time poring over the biographical details of Steve Cohen, as though you were preparing to write a dissertation on The Big Guy, may not be aware that he was not in fact born on the Stamford trading floor, wearing glasses and a zip-up fleece. In fact, there was life before SAC Capital and actually a time when Cohen did not work at a place where the office bore his initials in the lobby in 12-foot font. Cohen grew up on Long Island, the son of a dressmaker and after college got his start at a company called Gruntal & Co, which a former employee who worked there at the same time as SC describes in tremendous detail today.
The company was like the Wild West, with employees carving out niches for themselves and running them like mini-fiefdoms, according to former employees. It did not have polish. When Gruntal was based on Wall Street, in downtown Manhattan, “they had a huge ventilator in the middle of the room, blowing the air around, and a dirty, gross carpet,” recalls Don Jans, who was an institutional bond salesman at the company in the 1990s. “I remember going to visit the office and seeing this trader-girl, in a muumuu, talking on the phone,” Jans says. “She was eating a cheese Danish with one hand and smoking a cigarette in the other.”
Jans does not provide more information about this woman but it seems safe to assume she was the BSD of Gruntal who took Cohen under her wing and promised to teach her little appretience how with hard work and gumption, he too could one day wear a muumuu to work* and demand the respect of Wall Street.
Where Hedge Fund Mogul Steve Cohen Learned to Trade [BusinessWeek]
*Some of you may be saying to yourselves, “But Bess, he doesn’t wear a muumuu to work…” He doesn’t wear a muumuu to work YET. Because he hasn’t reached this lady’s status. No one has.