Jeffrey Epstein and the Private Banking Industry

I’m glad to see that in between losing $57 million in Bear Stearns funds and spending 18 months in a Florida jail, Jeffrey Epstein managed to find the time to host the New York Times at his Caribbean island.

As his legal troubles deepened, Mr. Epstein gazed at the azure sea and the lush hills of St. Thomas in the distance, poked at a lunch of crab and rare steak prepared by his personal chef, and tried explain how his life had taken such a turn.

The article tries – and largely fails – to clear up the mystery of what exactly Epstein does for a living:

His business is something of a mystery. He says he manages money for billionaires, but the only client he is willing to disclose is Leslie H. Wexner, the founder of Limited Brands.

As Mr. Epstein explains it, he provides a specialized form of superelite financial advice. He counsels people on everything from taxes and trusts to prenuptial agreements and paternity suits, and even provides interior decorating tips for private jets. Industry sources say he charges flat annual fees ranging from $25 million to more than $100 million…

He never wears a suit, preferring monogrammed sweatsuits and jeans. And he rarely attends meetings — “I never have to be anywhere,” he tells his pilots, when he cautions them to avoid flying through chancy weather.

$100 million a year is serious money even for a multibillionaire: ten years of that and you’ve spent a billion dollars in consultancy fees alone. And doubtless Epstein’s fee comes over and above any management and performance fees charged by the hedge funds he invests his clients’ money in. It must be one of the most lucrative risk-free businesses in the world: while his clients can lose money, he pretty much can’t. Even arms dealers are probably looking at him jealously.

Boiled down to its essentials, it seems that Epstein is a super-high-end private banker. No wonder there’s so much competition in the financial-services industry to get the accounts of high net worth individuals: if Epstein’s any indication, there’s billions of dollars just sitting there for the charging. Nice work if you can get it.

This entry was posted in wealth. Bookmark the permalink.