The 2009 Wall Street 50 Awards
The annual Wall Street 50 event brought together national leaders from every sector of the financial world. Police commissioner Ray Kelly, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Chairman of The American Ireland Fund, and many other luminaries from the Irish-American community gathered to celebrate the honorees.
Of the evening’s many highlights were the words, excerpted below, offered by Brian Moynihan, Bank of America’s President of Consumer & Small Business Banking, and golfing legend Padraig Harrington. Both encouraged the crowd to accept the challenges that lie ahead and realize that sometimes you have to take a step back in order to move forward.
We, as an industry, need to drive the esolution – the “fix,” whether through new legislation, through helping our regulators supervise new products, or by our own internal actions. We need to learn from our mistakes, educate our teams, look to improve our risk management systems, and look to curtail the excesses that got us here. We also must help shape responsible regulation and do it without stifling innovation. One suggestion would be to more carefully regulate levels of leverage by all participants in the markets including companies and consumers.
By regulating leverage and thereby requiring more capital, we can ensure that liquidity remains bullet-proof in recessionary times. And we can keep the asset bubbles from forming. We also need to acknowledge – as a society and an industry – that we need to do some things that may cost us in the short run, but will be good for us all in the long.
Many of us are here because dark economic conditions in the past led our ancestors to brave a tough and unknown voyage to a new land, for a new opportunity. Imagine, at the age of 14, as my wife’s grandmother did, getting on a ship, knowing no one, to travel to a place where she knew no one, all in the name of opportunity – an opportunity which may be to face a long period of indentured work to pay off the voyage. Our relatives braved these challenges because they had to, they had little choice.
But even then, they seized the opportunity. And that is why we are here tonight. We, like them, now face a hard go to get this all right over the next years. It is going to be hard work and it’s going to be challenging. But when we look at the task ahead, we can take solace, it is clearly not as hard or challenging as our ancestors’ task was to leave Ireland and establish a new life. In addition, we have another benefit to help our efforts – their determination is in our blood. So I say let’s get on with the task at hand.
Padraig Harrington: Every day I know I just keep going forward, keep trying to get better. I think that would be my ultimate principle in golf or in life. Many people who were following my career see that I did take a few steps back this year to try and go forward . . . . I came off of winning three majors and I decided to change something [about my swing] that had been bugging me for a while, for a number of years, and my performances dipped because of it. …
But I know that this is part of the process. I know that I’m trying to get better and I will get better. That has always been my mindset. I came out of last year being third in the world feeling like I had peaked, but now I have the feeling that I can go anywhere and that I haven’t peaked and that in the future I am going to get better and better. That’s what’s important to me.
I do believe that now I’m in a position to move forward. I believe that just like FTI when they go in there and rebuild the company, I too have taken myself apart and put it back together, and now we can look forward to times when things are going to get better and improve.
Economic times are going through a bit of a low. My golf game has been going through a bit of a low. I believe I’m on my way out and up and I hope all you businessmen are on the way out and up, and I hope you go to new places.