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Scaramucci’s Difficult Road to Respect and a Trump White House Post

January 13, 2017

Anthony Scaramucci finally has a real reason to grin. “The Mooch” is sitting in a conference room in Trump Tower, holding forth on his unlikely path from hedge fund ringmaster to Trump administration insider. Scaramucci, you see, is the Donald Trump of the hedge fund game - and now he’s going to Washington, too.


Scaramucci, who founded SkyBridge Capital, will serve as a general adviser, after working on Trump’s transition team, making dozens of television appearances in support of the incoming administration.


It’s a remarkable turn for Scaramucci, 53, whose wide smile and youthful looks fit his role as the face of his fund of hedge funds firm and host of the lavish SALT conference, an annual industry gathering in Las Vegas. In a business that admires bold risk-takers, Scaramucci, who is a marketer and fund raiser, has had to fight for respect, making his political appointment a kind of redemption.


‘SUPPOSED TO FAIL’.    “My career was supposed to fail on Nov. 8,” Scaramucci said in an interview earlier this week. “That was the conventional wisdom in the hedge fund industry. Scaramucci doesn’t know what he’s doing.” After all, he had played a “key role” in the team’s preparation for the White House.


“He’s been extremely helpful in bringing to the table very influential and highly respected members of the financial community, both in terms of policy as well as for positions in the new administration.” - Michael Cohen, a Trump attorney.


Cohen, who worked with Scaramucci on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said he attempted to bring the money manager into the Trump campaign early on. But Scaramucci was already committed to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. After Walker, he threw his support behind Jeb Bush.


SPARS WITH TRUMP.    In August 2015, Scaramucci and Trump sparred after the candidate said hedge fund managers were “getting away with murder” with the taxes they pay. Scaramucci fired back, calling Trump a “hack politician” in a television appearance.


"The politicians don’t want to go at Trump, because he’s got a big mouth and they’re afraid he’s going to light ’em up on Fox News and all these other places, but I’m not a politician," Scaramucci said at the time. "Bring it!”


Soon after, the two men met at Trump Tower in New York to try to find common ground.


Scaramucci now joins a series of Goldman Sachs alumni, including Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin, chief strategist Stephen Bannon and senior counselor Dina Powell, in the new administration. “There aren’t many people I have met in my career who are as superb a marketer and strategist as Anthony," says Robert Matza, president of investment firm GoldenTree Asset Management.


ROAD TO SUCCESS.    Scaramucci grew up in modest surroundings in Port Washington, a middle-class town on the north shore on Long Island. His father worked in construction.


His road to the White House hasn’t been a straight shot, something he isn’t shy to admit. He graduated from Harvard Law School, but flunked the New York bar exam twice. He landed a job in the real-estate investment-banking unit at Goldman Sachs, but was let go from the job. He was rehired by the bank in its equities group.


Scaramucci founded SkyBridge in 2005, raising $300 million to invest in 9 startup hedge funds. Amid losses during the financial crisis for SkyBridge and other firms, Scaramucci held his first SALT conference in May 2009. His best career move may have been his purchase of Citigroup’s alternative-investments division in 2010. He got the business for very little money, and it added more than $4 billion to his assets under management and advisory.


The political appointee has been trying to sell his firm for as much as $250 million, a price people in the industry say may be too high. SkyBridge is one of the largest players in fund-of-hedge funds business, which has struggled in recent years because of poor performance and layers of fees. Many of these firms have been bleeding assets since 2008.


Scaramucci said he first met Trump in 1995 while he worked at Goldman Sachs. He mentioned he’d read Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” and Trump responded, "Good! Whatever success you have, I’m going to take credit for it," Scaramucci said.