The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2021 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.
Opinion

Macaskill on markets: Saudi Arabia – The tricky business of ethics

Saudi Arabia’s central bank governor recently gave international banks a clear signal that they will not be punished by a loss of fees for avoiding an investment conference in Riyadh due to public outrage over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Maca-getting-the-story-straight-illo-780

This must have been galling for Ken Moelis, who was the only high-profile leader of a Wall Street firm to attend the Saudi Future Investment Initiative conference in October.

JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon, BlackRock head Larry Fink and Blackstone chairman Stephen Schwarzman all cancelled, in an apparent attempt to signal disapproval to the Saudis, without actually cutting off their own future earnings from the kingdom.

Moelis, by contrast, showed up and engaged in awkward evasion of media questions.

It is all too easy to condemn Moelis as a hypocrite who publicly espouses vaguely defined “values” while remaining focused entirely on his own bottom line.

So here goes. Moelis runs the investment bank he founded – Moelis & Co – by fostering a cult of his own personality, complete with a website that highlights the ‘Moelis Standard’, a list of seven principles.

Number four is the principle that: “We stay ahead of the changing environment to provide the most relevant advice and innovative solutions.”

Number six is: “We will not compromise our vision and values.”

Hollow nature

A casual observer of the Moelis Standard might wonder how the chief executive is staying ahead of the changing environment by endorsing the Saudis in a period of widespread condemnation of their actions, or what exactly it would take to compromise his vision and values.


You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.

SUBSCRIBE ONLINE TODAY

Unlimited access to Euromoney.com and Asiamoney.com

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually

FREE 7 DAY TRIAL

Unlimited access to Euromoney.com and Asiamoney.com, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors

LOGIN NOW

Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree