Obama’s BBB (Best Banking Buddy) Joins Ranks of Self-Employed

Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama drives a golf cart with Robert Wolf at Mink Meadows Golf Club in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

By now, President Barack Obama has learned that Robert Wolf, a tried and true Wall Street supporter — not to mention a basketball and golfing buddy — will join the ranks of the self-employed. If Obama didn’t already know before.

Wolf, the chairman of UBS AG’s Americas unit, emailed associates today that he’s planning to leave the bank to start his own advisory firm.

As one of the president’s most visible New York fundraisers, Wolf, who played football at the University of Pennsylvania, was accustomed to taking hits from his Wall Street colleagues. He relied on humor to deflect the criticism while also working the White House to soften Obama’s rhetoric about the financial services industry — or, as the president once called them, “fat cats.”

“Being that Wall Street friend of the president isn’t so easy,” Wolf said, chuckling in a Jan. 17 interview on Bloomberg Television. Incidentally, he was fresh from the White House, from the last meeting of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, on which he served.

When pressed about Obama’s positions on higher taxes for the wealthy or his plans to treat carried interest as regular income, Wolf, 50, rarely backed down.

“Since 1776, after every war, there’s taxes,” he said. “We’ve had a 10-year war.”

Some of Wolf’s colleagues at UBS grew tired of his defense of Obama, according to the New York Times.

Now he’s off to start a new firm, 32 Advisors, which will count UBS as one of its clients. And while Obama and Wolf won’t golf on Martha’s Vineyard this year (the president isn’t going), Wolf is likely to keep getting invited for presidential basketball games. If his fifty-year-old, surgery-scarred knees allow it.



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