This is an excerpt from a long discussion with the men whose firms won Broker-Dealer of the Year honors—as chosen by their own representatives—where they gathered in Chicago in August with Investment Advisor Editor John Sullivan and Group Editor in Chief Jamie Green. The four men were asked to reflect on this solemn 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
BUSINESS CONTINUITY: THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE 9/11 ATTACKS
DeVito: One of the girls in my office, her father died in Cantor Fitzgerald. In my neighborhood, in my county, it was just devastating. It has to change you in some way. Did it change the financial services industry? Not much. Not so sure. I don’t think it changed.
Shepherd: I think it reminded people why business continuity plans makes sense. Obviously there were Wall Street firms obliterated, but I don’t think it changed the landscape of financial services as much as it changed the landscape and direction of our country. I didn’t expect the question frankly and glad you asked it though, because it is the single most important geo-political event in my lifetime and, God, I hope we don’t have anything like it ever again. I don’t think it’s made us change how we approach business, but it has changed the way in which we approach investing. Whether it be 9/11 or the next crisis, it certainly makes you think about how you manage assets from a risk management standpoint, rather than just always going for broke.
DeVito: I have been impressed by a number of people on Wall Street who have put themselves out to help others in raising money for the people who got hurt. They have just become so philanthropic and fundraising-oriented; it’s really amazing. They are taking thousands of hours a year to help others.
Murphy: Notwithstanding the tragedy that occurred, what you saw was a nation and a city come together. Competing firms were opening up their offices to firms that didn’t have any place to work. It brought us together as a nation and I think it changed us forever.
McEvoy: From a business side and a personal side it changed me a lot. My son spent three years in the military and then re-enlisted after it happened. So that was the personal world. But it was an affront on capitalism and it was an affront on the financial world. The very thing that brought us together is now being used as a political tool to divide us. I find that very disappointing; not upsetting, but disappointing that political people can take something that was so tragic and that has turned out to be such a banner of strength. The one thing that we’ve got to look at in this organization and the industry and the world we’re in now is to not apologize for what we do. What we do in this business is deliver on dreams. We help educate children. We help get money to people who’ve lost their spouse and we help people achieve things that have a lasting legacy and impact. We’ve got a political environment right now that wants to take Wall Street and, in the broad sense, badger it. I think it’s wrong.
Shepherd: Well to that end, if we could actually get growth in this country again, our businesses are going to go crazy. We all run businesses today to prepare against what we’re fighting against. If we could actually get some tailwinds in this country, get us rolling in the right direction, our business would be job creators—instantly. And I think that’s a metaphor for the whole country right now.
McEvoy: The problem with our world is we want the people to be that rugged individualist again. I take care of myself, I save my money, I’m prudent with it, I raise my family, I make the decisions that are important to me. But, unfortunately, we’re moving back into kind of a victimized environment where people are being told that it’s okay; you need to be taken care of. And that’s got to change if we’re going be the power that we were once.
(See complete coverage of 9/11: Ten Years After on AdvisorOne.)