By Leah McGrath Goodman
PBHFA Founder David Goodboy Featured in Newsweek Article
he night I flew into West Palm Beach, a string of deadly tornadoes ripped across Florida. High winds pounded surf against jagged coastline and whipsawed the 100-foot-tall trees along Royal Palm Way—what locals call Bankers’ Row.
It was just a few days after Donald Trump’s inauguration. A couple of miles down the road, seemingly oblivious to the approaching storm, hundreds of revelers packed Mar-a-Lago, the Great Gatsby–esque private resort Trump has dubbed his “Winter White House,” to fete their new king. The private event, attended by Palm Beach’s billionaires, entrepreneurs and socialites, featured dinner and dancing, a replay of Trump’s swearing-in ceremony and a mammoth ice sculpture of the American flag with “President Trump” emblazoned on the base in red.
In such rarefied circles, it’s not unusual to bump into people who spent their childhoods riding around in limos with their nannies, and, in their retirement years, put off a spouse’s funeral so they could enjoy the last days of what Palm Beachers call “the Season”—roughly four months of epic winter bashes and galas that run from late November to early April every year. When the parties end, Palm Beach island’s population promptly shrinks from 30,000 to 10,000.
Trump’s party occurred at the height of this season, but one of the president’s neighbors, real estate magnate and billionaire Jeff Greene, did not attend. “He’s a very good host. I have to give him credit,” says Greene, who knows Trump casually and is a member of Mar-a-Lago. “But I don’t agree with his politics. I think some of the things he did to get himself elected paved the way for much more dangerous rhetoric in our country…….
Palm Beach’s power brokers ink deals in bars, restaurants and coffee shops. They hash out financial terms and sometimes even sign contracts in the cocktail lounge over highballs and martinis. In my 20 years covering Wall Street, I have never seen so many deals get done in front of me—and with such insouciance—as I did during my week in Palm Beach.
One of the main reasons a younger, more entrepreneurial crowd is coming to the area is because the scene is so ideal for fundraising, says David Goodboy, founder of the Palm Beach Hedge Fund Association (and another Wall Street escapee). “Hedge funds follow the money, and the money is moving here,” he tells Newsweek. “Because the community is so small, there’s really very little anonymity. You have unprecedented access to investors and opportunities to meet new clients.”