This content is from: Portfolio

Kieran Prior, The Whiz-Kid, Challenges Goldman Sachs

Talented wheelchair-bound proprietary trader confronts global giant’s treatment of the disabled.

  • Loch Adamson

Kieran Prior — a wheelchair-bound equities specialist who made history at Goldman Sachs International as the first disabled-from-birth proprietary trader at the firm’s London offices — has filed a legal grievance with the London Employment Tribunal claiming discriminatory treatment. The grievance pits the 30-year-old Prior, who was born with a rare condition akin to cerebral palsy that affects his motor skills and impairs his speech, against a global financial powerhouse.

Apart from his disability, Prior stands out on the trading floor — even by the ultra-competitive standards of the banking industry. His IQ score of 238 on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale puts him in the top 1 percent of 1 percent of the world’s population. From the time he was a teenager growing up in Salford, a tough northern town 12 miles outside Manchester, Prior wanted to be a trader and work for the best — which, to him, meant Goldman Sachs. He joined the bank just four days after graduating from the University of Manchester in July 2000 and has been with firm ever since.

Kieran Prior

In February 2008, Prior launched a charitable organization, the Priority Trust, dedicated to providing funding to help support the acquisition of customized wheelchairs and mobility equipment for children and young adults; Academy award-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis is the charity’s patron.

Prior, who was previously featured in Institutional Investor (see “Being Kieran Prior,” May 2008), and officials with Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the case. But a former colleague of Prior’s who is familiar with the grievance, which is being brought under the Disability Discrimination Act, says, “My impression is that some influential people within the firm view Kieran not as an asset — and a potential diamond, given his intellect — but as a burden.”