“Upper West Side Wife-Killer Tried to Pay a Mexican Man to Marry His 13-Year-Old Daughter”—Eric Levitz, New York Magazine (November 10, 2015)

covlin12n-3-webI worked with Rod Covlin at his first job out of college (and mine)—both of us were in an incoming cohort of new traders trained at the same time at a NASDAQ company at the height of the internet bubble. I traded for two years before leaving for graduate school and hung out with a lot of the group I came in with.

Rod was part of all this; he came to more than one party at my place and dated my roommate. He got so drunk one night that he threw up all over himself on our couch in our NYC apartment and we were momentarily worried that if his head hadn’t been tilted to the side, he would have easily choked on his vomit. He also, in the tryst with my roommate, tried to get the two of us to ‘hook up’ for him (didn’t happen) while at the same time extolling the virtues of jdate for his future plans for more committed relationships.

And finally, he was one of the first to leave in a poaching effort by a new company that took on the tones and dimensions of a cult-like ‘industrial espionage’ drama at our work. Strangely, we all wondered, “Rod? Really? He’s a terrible trader. Why did they want him?” A short while after that, I got a dodgy call from him at home asking (opaquely) about my interest in defecting to the new company. And no, I didn’t; I left the job altogether for graduate school.

Sometimes people ask me why I don’t trade anymore. There are lots of people I still keep in touch with and who are good, kind, and even amazing human beings—just like the kind you meet in any other profession. Then there were people like Rod—always looking out for the next sneaky deal to get ahead (often at the expense of everyone else and often because cheating was the only way they could get ahead), obsessed with money and financial largess as the only indicator of success, and filled with an almost superhuman sense of entitlement that drove an insatiable desire for more. Working on Wall Street in a bull market at the height of the internet bubble, combined with the winner-take-all, no questions asked ethic on the job so neatly justified then amplified all of nastiest habits and tendencies that attracted people like him to the job.

No one that I worked with has come close to going as far down this scary road as him (though there has been a tabloid number of financial crimes, settlements, and record fines). However, I couldn’t say that it altogether surprises me that, with his continued failures combined with that outsized sense of entitlement, that he ended up down a road like this.

—Anna-Liisa Aunio