×

How Donald Trump is winning over Wall Street

Wall Street's interest in Donald Trump has gone from entertainment purposes only to dramatically concerned to secretly supportive.

I spoke with over 50 financial professionals across the board. And the overwhelming majority said they were planning on voting for Trump at the election.

"He fights very hard to pay as little taxes as he can," a hedge fund manager said referring to recent Trump comment. "I say amen. He's just like us."

This hedge fund manager wasn't always a Trump supporter. "I wanted Jeb Bush. But now I'm Trumping it."

Donald Trump
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
Donald Trump

In early campaigning, Trump did an excellent job of capitalizing on the public's anti-Wall Street sentiment. He's on the record for taking a tough stance against the financial industry. It's exactly what the people wanted to hear.

Back in the fall, the prospect of a Trump White House was believed to be a threat to capitalism. His sound bites were delivered with perfection: "Raise taxes on the rich "and" hedge fund managers are getting away with murder."

So why is Wall Street changing its tune and secretly cheering behind closed conference room doors?

Counter to Trump's initial stance against Wall Street, many believe he's recently been giving the industry a "wink-wink."

"Of course he pledged to be tough on Wall Street. He has to say that," an investment banker said. "But when he says he has plans to dismantle Dodd Frank, it's like playing 'We Will Rock You' inside of a stadium. It's awesome."


When you ask someone outside of the business about Dodd Frank they don't really understand what it means. But to everyone within the industry they know it's a Wall Street reform and consumer protection act. It's a massive and financial reform legislation that's aimed to decrease risk in the system. It was put in place to prevent a repeat of 2008.

Recently the anti-Trump contingency has been hitching their wagon to the comments the Donald made about the housing crisis in 2006.

"Who can blame him for rooting for the housing meltdown in 2006," a trader said. "He's just trying to make money. That's what we do. Kill or be killed."

Adding to the momentum for Wall Street support, the presumptive Republican nominee tapped Steven Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs alum, as his national finance chairman. This move created a lot of Wall Street smiles.

"Mnuchin was at SALT in Vegas," a trader said. SALT is an annual hedge fund conference with the biggest hitters on the street in attendance. "He was saying all the right things."

It's believed that Mnuchin was out there to shake hands and have preliminary fundraising conversations according to one attendee.

Of course a Trump presidency is not without concern, primarily because the street doesn't like uncertainty. It wants to know the variables.

"With Trump it's more of a shoot from the hip mentality," an analyst said. "And that's a risk."

And another growing concern is the Fed. Some believe they won't raise rates during an election year. But if Trump is elected that will change immediately.

"My guess is if Trump is elected," an economist said. "They'll raise rates any chance they get to ensure Trump is dealing with a recession in his first year in office."

But it seems like the Trump train is picking up steam and many Wall Streeters are on board. They're just not talking about it publicly.

Regardless of who you're going to vote for--there's also the reality that the power will be limited by an ability to work with Congress. More to be revealed I guess.

But Wall Street is no longer afraid of Trump. They are secretly rooting for him to win the election. The person they are really scared of is… Bernie.

Commentary by Turney Duff, a former trader at the hedge fund Galleon Group. Duff chronicled the spectacular rise and fall of his career on Wall Street in the book, "The Buy Side." Catch him on CNBC's "Filthy Rich Guide." He's also a consultant on the Showtime show, "Billions," starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Follow him on Twitter @turneyduff.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCOpinion on Twitter.