1999 Hall of Fame

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Induction Speech for Richard S. Wilson

Inducted November, 1999

Ms. Loretta Neuhaus, a Past-President, made the following speech on behalf of Ms. Eunice Reich-Berman, a Founding and Life Member, who regrettably was unable to attend the induction ceremonies.

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Eunice Reich-Berman. I’m responsible for managing Credit Research at J.P. Morgan Securities and I am also a founding and life member of FIASI. Tonight, it is with great pleasure that I stand before you to honor my dear friend and colleague, Richard Sutton Wilson, to the FIASI Hall of Fame.

I first met Dick Wilson in 1975 when I moved from investment banking at Warburg, Paribas, Becker to Loeb, Rhoades & Co. as a bond analyst. And who were bond analysts anyway? In 1975, they were all rating agency analysts with the exception of a few rating agency defectors who worked at Paine Webber, i.e., Russ Fraser & Company and at F.S. Smithers, i.e., Paul McCarthy & Company.

In 1975, I needed a letter of recommendation to join the New York Society of Security Analysts—that bastion of equity folk—and my colleague at Loeb, Rhoades, Mark Lightcap, told me to go over and make the acquaintance of "The Professor", none other than our Dick Wilson! This chance meeting became the start of a career-enlightening relationship and a 25-year friendship that I deeply value to this day.

At this point, I want to direct your attention to the J.P. Morgan table over there. There sits Dick’s fan club from our days at Merrill Lynch. He was our leader and we followed willingly. Dick used to refer to himself as "Dicky Doo" and the rest of us were the "Don’ts". We became the "Don’ts" because we sometimes doubted the advice he gave us…and of course, we were always wrong. Personally, I like to think of myself as the queen "Don’t"!

Working with Dick was so educational. He was rightfully called the "The Professor" because he knows everything there is to know about bonds. He even knows the two-sided markets of defunct, collectible bonds that are traded at R. M. Smythe & Co. He is the ultimate in approachability. His door was always open. To this day, he is my number one go-to guy. If there is something I simply can’t figure out, I call Dick. He never disappoints me with his deep knowledge of credit and fixed income securities.

Arlene Bookbinder, who is sitting at the J.P. Morgan table, always referred to Dick as "A Man for All Seasons". This title reflects his eclectic interests that become most apparent when you travel with him. He can be simultaneously reading three, four-inch-thick books on world history and biographies, writing a book for Frank Fabozzi, ordering bulbs for his flower garden, filling in his stamp albums, and auctioning his coins. Not only does he have many passions but he is an expert at all of them.

Dick’s deep knowledge and appreciation of history is reflected in his writing and research. For instance, in his book entitled Corporate Senior Securities, Dick thoughtfully included the history of the rating services in addition to the meanings and use of the ratings. Moreover, Dick always cited from J.P. Morgan lore the 3 Cs of credit. They are the character of management, the collateral, if any, behind the repayment of the debt, and the capacity of the issuer to service its debt. In later years Dick added a 4th C of credit; it was for covenants, which comes from his extensive work and expert testimony on indentures. In another book, Dick included an epigraph quoting such individuals as Chamberlain from 1911 and 1927, Mead and Grodinsky from 1939, and our own James Grant from 1986.

On your tables you will find further evidence of Dick’s historical fascination. It is a Bond Notes column from Financial World Magazine dated November 12, 1991 and entitled "A Holiday Shopping List." Dick recommends seven history books including Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

On the advice of his father who was a doctor, Dick did not go into medicine. Dick’s father felt that healthcare was changing and that Dick would be better served by going into business. (One wonders what his father would say about healthcare today?!)

Dick graduated from Wharton as an undergraduate student and received his MS from Columbia Business School. To this day, Dick spars intellectually with the writers in the Wharton Alumni Magazine and often writes letters to the editor disagreeing with specific points of view. As a result of this, Dick once refused my request asking him to write a letter of recommendation for a young friend of mine who wanted to attend Wharton. He said it could do more harm than good.

In any event, Dick never stopped his own quest for knowledge and the willingness to educate others. He has imparted his knowledge in his three books and in his contributions to countless others. Moreover, he has participated in committees and has written position papers for numerous scholarly research boards and journals such as the Financial Management Association, the American Enterprise Institute, and Friends of Financial History.

He used to conduct his infamous "Ding Dong School" classes at Merrill Lynch and he continues to educate and train analysts at Fitch/IBCA to this very day. It should be noted that Dick also maintains one of the most extensive book collections on financial history. He is the only person I know who has every edition of Graham and Dodd! For awhile, Dick even had his own web site—Ask Bondini—where he entertained questions on anything having to do with bonds.

And on the subject of learning and adaptability, Dick, who has a few years on many of us, is a techie! He was the only person to have a typewriter in his office at Merrill Lynch, and yet he was the first person in our entire group to purchase and master the use of a home computer. He systematically taught himself program after program and put all of the kiddies to shame. Today he is one of the most computer-literate people I know.

Life and work with Dick was not only educational but it was also so much fun. I personally traveled the length and breadth of this country and much of Europe and Asia with Dick and others on the team. Sometimes we had so many presentations to make in a given day that we decided to swap roles at some of the customers just to keep ourselves pumped up.

Once in the Tokyo airport, Dick decided to pull one of his stunts. As we were going through the metal scanners he called to a female customs agent, "Stop that woman (meaning me), she has drugs in her bra." Thank you Dick. This was the only time in my life I was ever strip searched! After the event Dick looked at me lamely and said, "I didn’t think she’d understand English."

Especially tonight, on the occasion of his being inducted into the FIASI Hall of Fame, it is important to highlight Dick’s long-term involvement with FIASI. Dick is not only a founding and lifetime member of FIASI, but he also served several terms as FIASI president as well as planned numerous of the early, annual, FIASI bond conferences.

So how can I leave you with the sum of Dick Wilson? Dick is a mentor, a teacher, a writer, a scholar, a consummate gentleman, and most of all, a treasured friend. To many of us who know him well, we know his lines by heart. He taught us that price is a substitution for quality, and all bond analysts are really pessimists. But on a personal level and to help us keep some sort of balance, Dick would sing Johnny Mercer’s Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative… And finally, in the words of Russ Fraser and borrowing liberally from Sara Lee, "Nobody Doesn’t Like Dick Wilson."

Acceptance Speech for Richard S. Wilson

Remarks by Richard S. Wilson, a Founding and Life Member Upon His Induction Into FIASI's Hall of Fame on November 10, 1999

Loretta, thank you for the kind remarks. Board members, my fellow Fitch workers, colleagues from Merrill Lynch and my other former employers, friends, guests and the good folks from Harry Hansen Management. Thank you so very much for this high honor. I am most pleased to join John Bogle in the distinguished ranks of the Fixed Income Analysts HALL OF FAME. I am also glad to be given my second life membership, something considerably different than a second life sentence. It is a very comforting feeling to have a reserve supply of years ahead of me, hopefully to be able to draw upon them if and when needed.

Back in 1975 little did I realize when I joined with the other founders at a corner in Harry’s that FIASI would grow to some 300 members. We have expanded from a small group of green eye-shade credit analysts to a truly mature professional group open to all participants in the bond business including credit analysts and quants, portfolio managers, salesmen, traders, strategists and even headhunters. The geographic distribution of our membership has gone from just the Wall Street area to members located in 18 states, Canada and the United Kingdom. We are no longer just sell-side analysts; — all four of the full-service rating agencies have members and ARE sponsors of this fine organization. Twenty years ago it would have been impossible to have members from Moody’s, much less to have Moody’s and S&P assemble in the same room! And you know that FIASI has come of age when we have gone from two-dollar beers to $150 dinners.

But an organization such as ours does not grow of its own accord. It took the time and effort of a small group plugging away each year. Bit by bit membership grew as program offerings improved. But, generally speaking, the work was done by the few officers and directors. This isn’t any different from a host of other organizations that we all belong to. It is a small number of dedicated people that keeps those activities going and resuscitating them when they are in danger of breathing their last. Today we are beneficiaries of the efforts of those folks.

The President’s letter in the most recent BONDS-EYE points to the need for increased participation by all members. We must get new members on the rolls, not only from the ranks of our current firms, but especially from the many companies that may not have heard of us. This requires getting notices of our activities in the press, and perhaps granting reporters from The Wall Street Journal, Barrons, The Wall Street Letter, and other media free access to our meetings. We have a membership chairman and a program chairman - two very important posts in any organization. But I suggest that a public relations chairman would be an important addition to help broadcast FIASI’s message. However, each member can act as a small-scale public relations chairman on his or her own. All you have to do is to broadcast our meeting notices to the analysts in your group or firm. Place the meeting notices on the real or electronic bulletin boards. Spread the word!

The program chairman always needs help. FIASI wants to expand the number and variety of programs offered. Volunteer to become a member of the program committee. Suggest the types of programs you want to see on the calendar. Get out and join in for a cocktail and a meeting and learn something new. We have a good schedule of programs that enables anyone to broaden their knowledge. Take advantage of a good thing.

Ten or fifteen board members and supporters should not be expected to bear the whole burden of running FIASI. They need YOU. To paraphrase the words of an overrated President, "Ask not what FIASI can do for you, ask what you can do for FIASI."

I want to end my remarks by publicly thanking a few of the many folks who have been important to my career in bondland. I will start with a several people who are not here this evening. I thank Russ Fraser for the opportunity he gave me at Fitch, but more importantly, for a simple phone call he made to me in the early summer of 1969. He called to see if I would be interested in following up on a job opportunity that was offered to him but in which he was not interested. Russ wanted to continue the job of building S&P. There was a bond sales manager who needed an assistant to work with his traders and salesmen. Weeks later, and thank heaven I didn’t hold my breath all that time, that sales manager called. We talked and I was hired. That gentleman was Stanford N. Phelps, one of the smartest bond guys of that time. This started a very exciting three-year stint with Stan at F. S. Smithers & Co., and the roller coaster of Drexel, Harriman, Ripley/Drexel Firestone. He taught me a heck of a lot about the business and its participants. I was proud to be part of a group that some outside of our circle called the second best bond operation in the Street (while it lasted). Salomon’s was acknowledged to be the best.

Another missing person is Gail Martin, my secretary and assistant at Merrill Lynch and Fitch. She made each business day better. And, of course, there is Eunice Reich-Berman, my favorite travelling companion from the Merrill days. I am sorry that she is unable to be with us tonight to help celebrate this happy occasion.

Many others gave me support, guidance and inspiration. Let me just acknowledge a few. There is my long-time friend and co-worker from the Drexel days, Leo McSherry. At White Weld/Merrill I was fortunate to work with the wonderful Paul Bruehl. I would also like to extend my appreciation to my former Merrill associate, Loretta Neuhaus of Deutsche Bank, not only for filling in for Eunice tonight but for being a good friend for many years.

And while I was putting my liver on the line for my firms at such hardship places as Eberlins, and Harry’s (to name just a few), my wife Barbara was taking care of the home front. Perhaps she was wondering about the dangers I was facing, or who were those people I was hanging around with, and why did I miss so many trains? Whatever she thought, I thank her very much for putting up with me and the struggles of the bulls and bears of Wall Street. It wasn’t easy to bring home the bacon!

Again, thank you very much for this great honor, and thanks for the memories.


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