Cantor Fitzgerald's 9/11 Tragedy: 'We Lost Them All,' CEO Lutnick Says
(Bloomberg) -- Cantor Fitzgerald had two choices after it lost 658 people, or the majority of its New York workforce, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center 20 years ago: Shut down, or keep going in their memory.
The firm opted to rebuild and now some children of the bankers and financiers who perished have followed their parents into the business.
“Imagine how tight this company was, and then we lost them all,” Chief Executive Officer Howard Lutnick said Friday in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power With David Westin.” He described attending funerals for days on end as “pulverizing” and reflected on what has come from the decision to carry on and support the families of victims.
The city likewise changed after the towers collapsed. Wall Street has shifted from a place to an idea, with investment banks and asset managers moving north of the Financial District to Midtown.
In the years since Sept. 11, Cantor has dedicated itself to giving back, Lutnick said. Employees forgo 25% of salaries to donate to families who lost loved ones in the attack. Each year, the firm sets aside all the money it takes in on a particular day -- around $12 million, after Lutnick pitches in -- for charities and disaster-recovery efforts.
Lutnick has been able to watch finance change in the decades since the attack from his perch atop Cantor. He said 9/11 helped to spark a transformation in the field that has been pushed further along by the pandemic, which forced investment bankers to hunker down in home offices.
“Technology is the right way to do a lot of our jobs,” he said. “You’re going to see technology play an ever-stronger role in finance.”
The decades since have also demonstrated how Wall Street firms, infamous for heated rivalries, have bonded after sustaining painful losses.
Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc., now owned by Stifel Financial Corp., lost 67 employees on Sept. 11. KBW CEO Tom Michaud said other executives have reached out in recent days to offer their sympathies.
“The reservoir of good will has generally been full,” he said Friday in a Bloomberg Television interview.
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