Is This the Secret Wall Street Fraternity that Rules the World?
Hazing, shaking hands, and being a legacy won’t necessarily get you into this fraternity. To be included in Wall Street’s invitation-only Kappa Beta Phi, it’s about who you know.
Established in 1929 as a social club by a group of Wall Street heavy hitters, the name Kappa Beta Phi is a play on the honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. Over the years it has emerged as an “upper-crust Friar’s Club roast” with leaders named “Grand Swipe,” “Grand Smudge,” “Grand Loaf,” and “Master-at-Arms.”
The group’s insignia includes a beer stein, a Champagne glass, a pointing hand and five stars, according to the New York Times. Its Latin motto, “Dum vivamus edimus et biberimus” means “While we live, we eat and drink.“ Dues are $475 a year.
Last week, the group met for its 80th annual black-tie dinner and induction ceremony at Manhattan’s St. Regis Hotel. In attendance were leaders from large investment banks, private equity firms, and hedge funds.
Let’s Get This Party Started
According to the New York Times, a reporter sneaked into the event and shared the following from the evening …
Attendees included Alan “Ace” C. Greenberg, former chairman of Bear Stearns; American International Group (NYSE:AIG) Chairman Robert H. Benmosche; Meredith Whitney of the Whitney Advisory Group; and Martin Lipton, founding partner of the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
So how does a secret, well-heeled group, have fun? They make fun of others in the financial world.
Billionaire Wilbur L. Ross Jr. was the “Grand Swipe” and entertainment for the evening included criticism of Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) who is an advocate of financial regulation and co-author of the Dodd-Frank Act.
There was also plenty of material on MF Global’s ex-chief Jon Corzine, who was once a Kappa, as well as hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors.
The crowd can get a little surly at these events. One custom at the gathering is for audience members to throw things, such as wine-dipped napkins and petit fours, at those performing on stage …
New inductees underwent the ritual of singing Wall Street-themed versions of such popular songs as Abba’s “Dancing Queen” which had appropriately been named, “Bailout King.”
Some members have taken offense to the bawdy behavior and didn’t attend. But at the end of the day, this Masters of the Universe group is a private one and they can choose to behave how they want. Just remember to enter at your own risk.
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