1999 Hall of Fame

  • Register

Article Index

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.


Corporate Sustaining Members

Moody's Credit Outlook

Moody's Credit Outlook report is available here. Published Monday and Thursday mornings, Moody's Credit Outlook provides you with the credit implications of current events.