Wall Street's $25,000 matchmaker
High-end matchmaker Samantha Daniels talks about the new dating landscape for bankers.
(Fortune Magazine) -- Until recently, some bankers tried trading on their lucrative professions to attract members of the opposite sex. And as with many of the shaky transactions leading up to the financial crisis, the strategy used to work.
"In the past, they would first say, 'Hi, my name is Michael or Josh, and I run a hedge fund,'" says Samantha Daniels, a matchmaker based in New York and Los Angeles who charges upwards of $25,000 for her service. "Now, they think people are leery of that."
Despite (or perhaps because of) the sea change, Daniels' business -- Samantha's Table -- is booming: She says revenue is up 30% so far this year. Daniels thinks the economic meltdown has spurred many financiers to seek stability in their personal lives. She spoke with Fortune about which Wall Streeters are looking for love -- and how they can find it.
Not everyone can afford to pay $25,000 for matchmaking. What kind of clients are you seeing these days?
I continue to have a lot of clients in finance. But within finance, there has been a shift to asset management, private equity, and venture capital, rather than hedge funds and the big banks. I'm still getting Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) guys. What's changed isn't who's coming, but what people are asking for.
So women aren't interested in dating bankers anymore?
No, they still are. But where they used to immediately say, set me up with someone in finance, they're now going back to the traditional professions as well. They're asking for lawyers and doctors and business owners -- the type of guys their grandmothers used to tell them to look for.
What about the men -- what do they want?
High-powered men have always asked for women who look like supermodels but have Harvard educations. Every man spends at least 20 minutes talking to me about what he thinks is sexy; men are very visual.
But now in that same breath, men are saying they want someone who is supportive. When their friends were laid off, they saw wives that were supportive, and wives that weren't. They've seen business associates have trouble with women standing by them.
Now that "I'm a hedge-funder" no longer does the trick, how would you advise bankers to market themselves romantically?
When you meet a woman, you should go back to the basics of who you are as a person -- how you live your life, your interests. But it's also good to let someone know that you're doing well and have a stable job in this environment. The number one thing women are attracted to is confidence.
How do you convey financial stability without handing over tax statements?
If you have a great job and make money, things will come up. For example, a typical first-date conversation is travel. Say you have a house in the Hamptons. Start by asking her, how did you spend your summer? Did you go away? She'll probably turn it around, then you can bring it up. In a passive, conversational way, it becomes obvious that you're doing well.
My clients have a lot of toys and own a lot of homes. But if you tell someone that you own your own plane on a first date, it sounds like you're overcompensating for something.
What should you avoid talking about?
You have to be careful when you talk about the economy and how well you are or aren't doing. It makes people uncomfortable if you're doing well and people around you aren't. There's a trend toward modesty.
Also, if you work in finance and you're on a date, don't bring your concerns and anxiety from work to the date. If you had a bad day, you're better off canceling.
Can men and women in finance lean on each other for support?