"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." That's what Tracy Postert did, who took to the Occupy Wall Street protests in October while still unemployed but emerged in December with an actual job on Wall Street.
Postert initially joined the Occupy Wall Street protests carrying signs that read, "Reagan sucks," and "I'll vote after the revolution." After awhile, she swapped her anti-finance signs for one that read, "Ph.D. Biomedical Scientist seeking full time employment / Ask me for my resume." Her placard attracted the attention of Wayne Kaufman, the chief market analyst for John Thomas Financial Brokerage, who asked her for her resume.
"I said a very quick hello," Kaufman said. "She was not wildly enthusiastic. I thought, 'Maybe this is a person who could help us understand these early-stage biotech companies that financial people just don't always understand."
Kaufman e-mailed Postert the next day, requesting her for an interview. The company subsequently offered her a position as a junior analyst, and she took it.
"I had been unemployed for so long, I thought, 'why not?'" Postert said.
Ironically, the last time Postert's firm was in the news was in February 2010, when the company's CEO Anastasios "Thomas" Belesis dedicated himself to a project called "Restore Wall Street," which aimed at cleaning up Wall Street's reputation in the wake of the financial crisis. Belesis has previously been accused of "churning, fraud, excessive trading, breach of contract," and was once the target of an insider trading scandal involving InterOil. Prior to founding John Thomas Financial, Belesis was fired from the S.W. Bach in 2005 for misrepresenting his identity to a customer.
In 1997, the Equal Opportunity Commission filed a federal suit against Belesis, calling his firm a "virtual hailstorm of sexual harassment" in a 50-page complaint. The suit accused the firm of regularly inviting lesbian strippers to the trading floor, and in one instance, a female dance was asked to remove her labio ring so a group of male employees could ask female employees to sniff it. On another occasion, the firm forced its brokers to mop up whipped cream and bodily fluids after a company executive enjoyed a "midday frolic with his secretary."
Among other complaints, "A female employee said that refusing a male superior's sexual demands was grounds for termination; men regularly wiped food covered hands on women's breasts; a junior partner was said to have sometimes picked his nose and then rammed his finger into female brokers' sandwiches."
The federal suit was settled for $1.75 million.
Regardless of the company's past, Postert is happy to have a job in the difficult economic climate. The Upper West Sider has been unemployed since her last job as a lab assistant at Touro College, making $2,500 in the entire semester. Despite being in her 30s and having no background in finance or business, Postert will be tasked with evaluating medical companies as potential investments.
Postert is in her fourth week of working at John Thomas Financial, located at 14 Wall St., a mere two blocks away from her former spot at Zuccotti Park. Belesis believes Postert will be a great addition to the company.
"She was ranting about Wall Street, and now she's working on Wall Street," Belesis said. "Banks are not so bad. I hope we have opened her eyes."