Transcript: John Mack



The transcript from this week’s, MiB: John Mack, Morgan Stanley CEO, is below.

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ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.

BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, boy, do I have an extra special guest, John Mack, legendary CEO of Morgan Stanley. Man, this is just a masterclass on leadership, on team building, on understanding a business and understanding what to do for your clients. So not only that they give you business, but they give you their loyalty and their ongoing respect. I don’t know what else to say other than my conversation with Morgan Stanley’s John Mack.

I’ve been looking forward to this conversation for quite a while. As soon as I saw the book came out, I have to really get the inside dope from John. And so let’s start with the beginning. You start at Smith Barney in 1968. What was so compelling about a North Carolina kid from Duke going to Wall Street?

JOHN MACK, FORMER CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, MORGAN STANLEY: Well, it’s pretty simple. So I was on scholarship at Duke, an athletic scholarship and cracked C5 in my neck. So my scholarship was only valid for four years, and I needed one class to graduate. I had very little money, and my father had passed away when I was in college. So I needed a job. And I went down and knocked on the door at a company called First Securities of North Carolina.

A guy named Bill Bonner said, look, you know, nothing about the business, I’ll put you in the back office. And you can go to your one class every day ahead, and then go on your lunch hour and come back and go to work. So it was me and nine women in the back office, and they had the old IBM computer punch cards. That’s how long ago it was. So I got a sense and a feel for the business.

And I got to know a lady named Fannie Mitchell, who ran job placement for Duke University. So when people would come down and say, you know, Procter & Gamble or IBM, whoever it may be, she would say, you got to talk to this John Mack. And I think, you know, I would see her in the cafeteria and most students would ignore. I’d sit down, have a cup of coffee with her or have lunch with her. So that’s how I got involved with the securities business.

And then the Smith Barney was in town and they were going to open an office in Atlanta, and they ended up hiring me to go to their Atlanta office. So I come up to New York in ’68 and I’m working at Smith Barney, and they decided because of the explosion of volume, the New York Stock Exchange stopped all new branches from opening. So I got a chance to go in the municipal bond department. That’s what I did. I was a trader-salesman, and I learned a lot about risk. And I also learned a lot about drinking at lunch, and you got to be very careful.

RITHOLTZ: Going out with clients, having a couple of drinks. Hey, you come back to the desk, a little buzzed, what happens? Can you make a trading mistake that way?

MACK: Well, not only you can, I did. We went down to Chez Yvonne, if you remember that years ago, down on Wall Street. U.S. Trust was my client, a guy named Jimmy Degnan. And U.S Trust was the advisor for the state employees of New York, which is a huge pension fund.


MACK: So we sat there and we drank for at least three hours.

RITHOLTZ: Now, wait, are you normally a drinker during lunch, or if the client is drinking, you got to keep up?

MACK: I’m a client guy. No one wants to drink alone. So if he’s drinking or she’s drinking, I’m drinking. I came back and I made a mistake. And thank God, they didn’t fire me. And over time, we eradicated that and fixed it. And then I learned be very careful when you go out to lunch on Wall Street.

RITHOLTZ: So tell us a little bit about the culture on the street in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. What was it like?

MACK: It was a crazy time. The thing of politically correct didn’t exist.

RITHOLTZ: To say the very least.

MACK: All right. So I’m 21, 22 years old. I’m at Smith Barney. I’m a municipal trader. Then I go into the corporate bond market. And I hear about these crazy parties that Wall Street was throwing and I only went to one and left. I mean, it was basically strippers and people getting drunk. And you know, I came from a town of about 12,000 people in North Carolina, a Baptist religion, mainly. It was a new world for me, but it taught me a lot. You got to pay attention and you got to make sure that you don’t get drunk at lunch and you got to make sure you tell the truth.

RITHOLTZ: Telling the truth is certainly a key part, and that’s a theme that comes up again and again in your book. We’ll get to that in a little bit. You mentioned the New York Stock Exchange didn’t allow any new branches to be open. I have a vague recollection of Wall Street being closed on Wednesdays to catch up on the paperwork. Tell us a little bit about that.

MACK: That’s correct. They closed on Wednesday to catch up on the paperwork, and all the firms, whether it was, first of all, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley at that time didn’t have a big secondary business, we had to clear up the back office. So you’d shut at noon and try to figure out the securities go to Y and these securities go to Z.

RITHOLTZ: Literally paper certificates, runners up and down the street —

MACK: Absolutely. Absolutely.

RITHOLTZ: — and delivering.

MACK: Absolutely.

RITHOLTZ: Talk about, you know, ancient technology. One of the things you mentioned was that by the 1980s, there were two key forces driving changes on Wall Street; deregulation and technology.

MACK: Right. Correct.

RITHOLTZ: Tell us about that.

MACK: Well, the markets were changing, they were global. And as they became global, and you were competing around the world, it was clear that you needed to free up our securities business to be more active on a global basis. So we got rid of a lot of regulation. We got more oversight, but not regulatory control. I mean, clearly reported to the SEC, York Stock Exchange, et cetera. But it wasn’t smothering. I mean, you know, we were not used to it. But it was the right thing for the New York Stock Exchange to do. There had to be more regulation.

And you know, as I said earlier, it’s a global market, and you want to make sure that we represent in New York Stock Exchange and really America the proper way, and it worked. And the U.K. was much stricter than we were; and in Germany, they restricted than we were. And clearly, the Japanese were stricter than we were. And over time, all these different regulatory areas from around the world, came up with a conclusion that we need kind of an overall management system for risk and regulatory oversight. So if you took a big risk in China, in Japan or in Europe, you needed to roll that up, so the U.S. regulator or the U.K. regulator could see what your overall risk was. I think that was a huge and a very important move.

RITHOLTZ: You spent the first part of your career primarily in fixed income. First, you mentioned municipals —

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: — then corporate. What was the appeal of the bond side of the business?

MACK: Well, originally, when I joined Smith Barney, I was going to go to Atlanta in the retail office and cover Florida and other southern states. And then I got to know a guy named George Wilder who had been in the municipal bond business, and a guy named John McDougall who was a municipal bond trader. And they convinced me, you know, I want you to stay in New York, you’re a great salesman, and you can sell and trade munis with us.

And I like New York and I like the business, and I like the investment world of large pension funds, money managers and things like that. So we did a combination of things, we covered clients, and then we satisfied the desire of retail salesmen who wanted to buy munis in New York state or in California or Florida. So that’s how I got into the bond business.

RITHOLTZ: What was it like trying to build a team on a bond desk that described in the book, could get a little frenetic?

MACK: Yeah, it was. But you know, we built it over a long period of time, and we all grew up over that period of time. And you’ve learned that, number one, you had to be upfront. You had to focus on your clients. You couldn’t get drunk at lunch, which occasionally, we all got drunk at lunch and sometimes made a mistake. And you learn to focus on your client and you know, it became a very personal business. And you got to know who they were, you got to know their families.

And I remember when I was at Smith Barney and then at F.S. Smithers, I was given the worst accounts because I went from trading to sale, so we’ll dump all these accounts on John Mack.

RITHOLTZ: Give it to the kid.

MACK: You got it. And there was a gentleman named Dick Vanskoy at the Mellon Bank, who managed and advised the state employees of Pennsylvania teachers and retirement funds. Huge —

RITHOLTZ: That’s a big account in Pennsylvania.

MACK: It was huge.


MACK: But he was tough as nails. And you learned very quickly, that you better be on your toes when you deal with Dick. And I got to know him, he was a great mentor, taught me a lot about the business. And I spent a lot of time in Pittsburgh, even to the point that my wife and I would go out. I mean, I remember going out to Pittsburgh with these huge funds, it was probably the largest account in the country, at Mellon Bank at that time.


MACK: And a guy named Jackie Kugler at Salomon Brothers, and Salomon was the dominant player in the bond market. They were the number one broker-banker for the pension funds for the state of Pennsylvania, both the teachers and the employees. And I just kept digging away, working hard at it. And over time, I became the number one dealer they dealt with.

And George Polachek (ph), who came over from Ukraine after the Russians back then took over in World War II, was running it. He had been at Sun Life in Canada. And I got along with him well, and I did a lot of business with the Mellon bank, to the point I became their number one broker-dealer. And Polachek (ph) who loved martinis, walked onto the Salomon floor and screamed out to Kugler, how does it feel to be number two? That’s the environment we’re in.

And I’ll tell you, I mean, I think business is personal. And we got to know the people at Mellon bank, whether it was, you know, Sally Yeh’s daughter who was in med school, or George Polachek (ph) who was going back over to Europe for a while. We really worked at getting to know people and building trust. And at the end of the day, it’s all about trust and it’s all about delivering what you say you’re going to do. And with the help of a lot of people, that’s what we did. And of course, my partner in all this was Christy Mack. And as I said earlier, my clients say, look, John, we really don’t care about you. It’s on Christy, yeah.

RITHOLTZ: Your wife?

MACK: Yeah. No. She was awesome, and is awesome.

RITHOLTZ: So you eventually become head of the Fixed Income Department.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: And what was it like to go from sales and trading to managing a whole team of salespeople and traders?

MACK: Well, it was very different and I learned very quickly, thank God for Dick Fisher, that you have to be more balanced and not as, I don’t know what the word is, aggressive, ruthless, uncouth, all of those words. We used to sit in clusters of four salespeople together, and we probably had five clusters. And one of my rules were that the desk can never be empty, you always need one person there. Because, you know, if no one is there and the phone rings, no one is picking it up.


MACK: Occasionally, you know, no one was there. And I’d walk in and be really pissed off about it, and reach over and I would just clean the desk off on the floor.

RITHOLTZ: Like, wipe everything —

MACK: Everything.

RITHOLTZ: — onto the floor?

MACK: Right. And thank God for Dick Fisher and he said, look, John, you got the biggest gun in the firm, in that division. Your job is never use your gun. So I learned a lot from him and I calm things down. I wasn’t as aggressive, wasn’t as pushy, but I was still demanding. And look, it’s a great business with great opportunities, but you got to pay attention. You got to pay attention to the people around you. You got to pay attention to your clients.

And this idea of especially at Morgan Stanley, the surest way to be fired at Morgan Stanley is the word got back, you got a client laid somewhere, you’re gone. There’s no debate, no discussion. So we really focused on trying to get close to our clients, give them what they needed, introduce them to other clients that also had similar asset management responsibilities. And Morgan Stanley at that time was really growing from a pure investment bank that covered, you know, AT&T, IBM, Southern Cal, you name it, they had it, the Government of Japan. And we really worked at imbuing that culture of first class business in a first class way into the Morgan Stanley sales and trading business.

RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about some of the things you discussed in the book. You described how different Wall Street is today from when you began. Tell us a little bit about the process of finance being institutionalized, and how the culture has changed.

MACK: Well, I think the biggest change is the markets became so big and global, that Wall Street had to change. So if you go back to when I started the business, basically, your client base was here in the United States. But over time, as globalization took place, your clients would be all over the world. And people were more and more focused on what are the maximum returns we can make in investing. And it got to be a 24 hours a day trading, whether you’re in China or Japan or Europe or U.S. So you had to be on your game, and you also had to be available to do business at night. And our traders oftentimes will stay up all night to satisfy inquiries coming in from China or be there early in the morning for London.

So globalization was the big change, and then technology added to it. Technology allowed people to see markets and here we are at Bloomberg, they were looking at machines. They could tell you what was going on in Hong Kong or what was going on in Europe. So the markets became 24/7. And as a result, you had the staff and in my case, the fixed income division, you needed people around the world to be able to satisfy clients who are investors, and at the same time, satisfy clients who are raising money through Morgan Stanley. So if AT&T was doing a big bond deal, we want to make sure that, you know, the Japanese, the Chinese and just go around the world, the Middle East, London and back to New York, that all of our clients got a chance to see and talk to a salesman who had information about the transaction we were doing for AT&T.

So globalization was the big change. Then add to that, and here we are at Bloomberg, technology. You know, when I got in the business, there was no technology. You had a little machine that would do interest rates for you. You know, you’d put in a price and it would give you what the yield is. But now, you go into Morgan Stanley, you go into JPMorgan or Goldman, it makes no difference. Every desk has a box with data and information. And if you go back when I got in the business in early, early ‘70s, matter of fact, in the late ‘60s, that didn’t exist. I mean, people would go out for lunch, and you know, take a couple hours. You didn’t miss anything. But today, you don’t leave your desk.

RITHOLTZ: Right. And I’d say the very least. So you helped to build a very special culture at Morgan Stanley. What goes into building a competitive investment bank? How do you create and sustain that culture?

MACK: Well, I think by and large, people who come into the business are competitive. They want to achieve and they want to do well. What I was trying to do was to take all this, I guess courage is the wrong word, this aggressiveness, this ability to build business, and how do you make it into a one firm versus the guys in San Francisco, they get an order, don’t share it with New York. If we do it, you know, we’ll get more of a commission.

So what I was trying to do when I took over the fixed income division is to create a one firm entity. I call it the one-firm firm. And I brought in a guy named Tom DeLong, who I’ve met on an airplane. So Christy and I were out in Utah, we were looking at buying a house because we started picking up skiing. And by the way, I’m a terrible skier. So I’m talking to this guy on the plane and I said to him, what do you do? And he said, I’m a professor at BYU, and I’m coming back to talk to AT&T, their management group about, you know, managing people and evaluations, et cetera. And I said, well, look, I’d like you to come in and see me when you have time. I’d like to talk to you.

So Tom comes in. And by the way, now, Tom is a professor at Harvard University. So Tom comes in and he interviews my senior group. And he comes in, he said, well, here’s what people think, to get ahead at this division, they have to be your friends.


MACK: Exactly. That’s right. And if they’re not your friend, they don’t make it. And he said, that may not be reality, but that’s what they all believe.

RITHOLTZ: That’s the perception.

MACK: So he said, what you should do is set up an independent group of people. Let them make a presentation to you of the talent that should be promoted. And you know, if you have a strong objection, you can say that, but by and large, you should accept what they put in front of you. So that’s exactly what they did. They took me picking who’s going to be promoted. And there was a promotion committee, and also a compensation committee. And then they would come to me and make recommendations. And so you didn’t favor one person, you had somewhere between four and eight people on these committees.

And when they brought it to me, unless I had something very specific that I’d say, well, let me tell you why I disagree, I accepted the recommendation. And that move really changed the culture of the division, and it came into, you know, you don’t have to be Max’s friend (ph) or anyone else. It’s about being professional, direct and honest. And your peers would do the evaluation on how you’re doing, what you’re doing and what you should be doing.

RITHOLTZ: This is the full 360 review.

MACK: Exactly.

RITHOLTZ: And the peers would also anonymously review their managers.

MACK: Absolutely.

RITHOLTZ: And what was the results from those sorts of things?

MACK: Well, in some cases, we found that managers were not setting the right tone as far as being energetic and working with them. They were reluctant, oftentimes, to go out with salesmen and help them entertain with clients or spend time with clients. So it really put more pressure on managers to be involved and not just sit in an office or on a trading desk at the far end, and just, you know, take advantage of people working hard, but they’re not involved. So we got more involved.

And it also got us to eliminate some of the managers. When you saw these 360 reviews and some of the data, and then you would dive into it and find out they’re right, we’re not going to have people like that at this firm. So not a lot of reduction at headcounts, but a few people we asked to leave.

RITHOLTZ: And you talked about the willingness of senior management to assist with clients. You seemed to be ready to jump on a plane to go anywhere in the world, China, to Tokyo. It didn’t matter if you could help close a deal. You were there.

MACK: That’s true. I mean, number one, I love the business. I mean, to go to China and build the relationships we built in China, or go to Europe, it didn’t make any difference where I went. I love the business. And you know, China was just opening up. And one of the guys who used to be at the World Bank said, you know, John, what China really needs, I think it was Ed Lim, it needs an investment bank.

So we formed a small investment bank owned mainly by the Chinese, but Morgan Stanley on 30% of it. And we built a securities business with the Chinese in China. And Wang Qishan, who was the Vice Premier, he was the gentleman I worked with. And it took a lot of time, but the Chinese wanted create their own capital markets. They wanted to be independent, and they wanted the ability to go around the world and raise money, because we do in any American investment bank.

And I’ll tell you one of the things that really touched me. We’re talking about China, but let’s say China Communist. We’re talking about diehard communists. Wang Qishan who was running the central bank at that time, and then he was given the responsibility by Zhu Rongji to build a securities business. And I’m working with him to do this joint venture and he flies over to New York, and we’re sitting in my office on whatever floor at Morgan Stanley. And we’re there for about an hour and a half, we’re making zero progress. We’re not getting anywhere.

And I’ve been in Europe with him and talked to him over there. We were making progress there. And now here he is in New York and there’s like a big heavy stone on him. I looked at him and I finally figured out he’s a chain smoker. I said Qishan, light him up. He said, I can’t do that. I said, what do you mean you can’t do that? He said, in New York, you can’t smoke inside. I said, in my office, you can do anything you want. Light him up. And he smoked Luckys. Can you imagine smoking Luckys? He smoked Luckys, he lit up, we got the deal done.

RITHOLTZ: No filter, right?

MACK: No filter. We got the deal done. And I keep reflecting back, you got to pay attention to the person who’s in the room with you.

RITHOLTZ: But I’m impressed that he knows the local rules and customs in New York.

MACK: Yeah. Very respectful.

RITHOLTZ: That’s really impressive. So you open this joint venture in China. Is Morgan Stanley the first U.S. Bank to open a joint venture in China?

MACK: It was. I know the U.K. banks, Hong Kong bank out of a U.K. ownership. But we were the first bank. But you know, I’m sure JPMorgan had some kind of outlet there, but more for banking and taking deposits and doing traditional banking business. But from a trading point of view, securities business, thanks to Ed Lim, who as I said, worked at the UN said, you know, China really needs capital markets and this investment banking business. And with his help, we started a small investment bank there which continued to grow.

RITHOLTZ: So not just the division in China grew, but all of Morgan Stanley grew. And eventually, you came to realize, hey, we have all this investment banking and trading experience, but we don’t have a retail force, the way somebody like Merrill Lynch does. And lo and behold, along comes Dean Witter —

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: — potentially a great merger candidate. Tell us a little bit about why that seemed like a good idea at that time.

MACK: Sure. Well, what we saw in Merrill Lynch, which traditionally had been a pure retail firm, because of their huge network, number one, they had better information not only from what’s going on in the retail market, but also from institutions. You know, if you were in Des Moines in Iowa, and you knew the local president of the First Bank of Iowa, you got better information. And if they were going to buy Treasury securities, or municipals, you got that order.

So we saw that we were getting limited information. And then Sears, who had bought Dean Witter. I think it was Ed Brennan and Phil Purcell had been a management consultant I think from McKinsey, but not sure of that. And he convinced Brennan that, you know, if you really are going to be in retail, you have Sears stores everywhere. Every city of 100,000 people, there was a Sears store. And he said, you know, we ought to open up Dean Witter offices in all these Sears stores, and that’s what they did. And it grew and grew.

And then they came to the point that Purcell convinced Sears, let’s spin it out and take this company public. So Morgan Stanley was chosen to be the lead underwriter on the spin-out of Dean Witter from Sears. So Dick Fisher calls me and I meet Purcell, who I liked, and I looked at their business and the information they were getting from clients versus what we were getting. And they were in every, well, how many Sears stores are there? They were everywhere.

RITHOLTZ: At their peak, I think there were like 3,000 something.

MACK: Yeah. So they had better information.


MACK: So, you know, we talked and talked. And finally, we came to the conclusion on a handshake to do the deal. Sears and Dean Witter was much larger in market cap than Morgan Stanley. So it was agreed upon, and he wouldn’t do it without being the CEO. And we had a couple of dinners in New York with Dick Fisher and him, Ed Brennan. And to get the deal done, he had to be the CEO. So Fisher says to me in a private meeting in his office, I’m not going to let you do this trip or do this management training. I said, well, Dick, at that point, it’s not our firm, it’s shareholders’ firm. And for me to say that to Dick Fisher was kind of ridiculous because he was always teaching me about the business. And he was a wonderful man and a smart man.

So I said, look, this is what makes sense for shareholders. I’ll take the number two job. Phil is a good guy. I’ll get along with him. And let’s do this merger. And we did. And what we also inherited when we did that merger was Discover card.

RITHOLTZ: Which was also a money machine.

MACK: It was a money machine. But you know, we clashed, and we clashed in the sense, like I said I think earlier, if I were out in Sacramento, seeing the state funds of California, and I had an extra hour, I would drop by, you know, the local office, the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter office, and go and talk to a salesman. And clearly, you know, salesmen who are on commission, by and large, do a good job, but always have complaints.

And I heard the complaints and I came back and I talked to the manager of all retail, and I talked to Purcell. And then Purcell said to me, you know, John, you can’t do that. I said, what do you mean I can’t do that? You can’t just drop into office and talk to them. I said, well, last time I checked, you know, you’re the CEO, but I’m president of the firm. I’m in Sacramento, seeing Safeway stores, and you’re telling me I can’t go into the office and talk to them? He said, well, you know, Ed Brennan would never do that at Sears. And I said, you know, this is not serious. And so right then, we knew we had an issue.

RITHOLTZ: Right. He was very risk averse and you were very hands-on.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: It seems like from day one, a clash of the Titans was teeing up.

MACK: Yeah. But not from day one. I mean, look, they had built a great business in retail, Dean Witter. They had brokers all over the country doing business. They didn’t have an international business. I think they thought international was going to Canada. It was just two different cultures. And no one challenged or spoke up either to a guy named Jimmy who ran the retail business or, clearly, Purcell who ran both retail institution and the credit card business.

And my view at Morgan Stanley and I did this with Dick Jake Fisher, and people did it with me. In my office, I don’t care what you say to me. I want to hear it and it didn’t matter whether you didn’t do that. And that was the big cultural change.

RITHOLTZ: So given the sort of head to head in terms of culture, Purcell’s team, at least for a while, seem to have won. You eventually came to realize he was reducing your authority —

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: — step by step. And at a certain point, you’re like, I don’t want to just be a figurehead.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: And so you resigned.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: Tell us what that was like too, you’d been at Morgan Stanley for quite a while.

MACK: Yeah. Well, it was difficult, but I couldn’t stay there under a philosophy or a management style where you’re not allowed to go to your boss and tell them, you know, I think you’re a jerk. And I had a number of people say that to me and I didn’t get even with them. I just changed some of the things. Sometimes they were right. I wasn’t sure. It’s just two different cultures.

I mean, Morgan Stanley built its business on telling clients exactly what they thought. They didn’t sugarcoat it. They didn’t try to say, you know, maybe a little this, a little that. They told the client, these are the issues. And that’s the way I grew up, and that’s the way Dick Fisher was. So as much as I tried to change, I was miserable. I couldn’t do it. And he put me in charge of the retail system, but everything was bounced through him before I could make any decisions. Look, it’s their style, it had been successful. The retail business was important to the firm. And by putting retail and institution together, we had tremendous clout. But from a managerial point of view, it’s not the culture I wanted to be in.

RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about a period where you were just bored golfing. You leave Morgan Stanley. You’re really not sure what the next chapter in your life is going to be. And then you get a phone call about the mess that was Credit Suisse.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: What made you attracted to coming in and trying to clean up Credit Suisse First Boston?

MACK: Well, I got a call from Lionel Pincus and I assume —

RITHOLTZ: From Warburg Pincus?

MACK: Right. They had a big investment with the Swiss and they were not happy with what was going on. So I met with him, and I met other people in the management of Credit Suisse. And I said to Christy, I would rather do this job and regret it than not do this job and regret it. So that’s how I made the decision.

RITHOLTZ: Regret minimization framework.

MACK: Exactly.

RITHOLTZ: A good way to think about it. We should talk more about your wife because it seems like she regularly gives you good advice and send you off to apologize for something you said.

MACK: That’s true.

RITHOLTZ: And you talk about that in the book. We’ll circle back to that later. So I’m amused by the headline, Wall Street Fears Big Mack Attack. What was the expectation post Morgan Stanley? What did the street think you’re going to come in and do with Credit Suisse?

MACK: Well, in Morgan Stanley when I thought, especially in the fixed income division and at that time, it’s the only thing I ran, that we were too fat. You know, we need to do a reduction. So I did and —

RITHOLTZ: And this isn’t just headcount. You described some pretty egregious spending —

MACK: Oh, yeah.

RITHOLTZ: — going on at Credit Suisse.

MACK: Yeah. Well, it was totally out of control. And you know, the Swiss were kind of absentee landlords. And they were used to getting all this money in a Swiss bank account and a lot of money coming in, I assume, from other parts of the world. So it was pretty easy when I got there, that we had to do some headcount reduction. When I got there, through my bankers who had worked for me at Morgan Stanley, who were big in technology, Frank Quattrone —

RITHOLTZ: Sure. Giant.

MACK: — and his team. And when I saw what kind of money they were making, it was mind-boggling. So I flew out to see them and I said, look, guys, I’ll pay you a lot of money. There’s no question about that. But what you’re doing, and the amount of money you’re making now versus the rest of the firm, and using the balance sheet in the firm is unacceptable. So we’re going to have to figure out a way. I want you to make a lot of money. I think it’s a great motivator. But this is totally out of control. And I wish I could remember exactly some of the numbers, but they were numbers like I’d never seen before.

RITHOLTZ: It was order of magnitudes larger than the rest of the street?

MACK: It’s big. They got a piece of every deal. They did.

RITHOLTZ: Personally?

MACK: Personally. So you know, one of them says, you know, John, this is in our contract. But I think this compensation is way out of kilter. And just to add a little color to this, when I said to them I want to come out and I want you to come to New York, and we got to talk about these contracts. And this is after 9/11. And they say, well, we’re afraid to do that. I said, well, tell me why. Well, after 9/11, we don’t go to New York. I said, okay, pick a city, I’ll meet you in the city. So I met them in Denver. When I think about that, how absurd that is.

So I flew out to Denver, and I took Steve Volk who had been at Shearman & Sterling as the lead lawyer, lead partner. He had joined me to help clean up Credit Suisse. So I sit with George Boutros, Quattrone and I think a guy named Brady, and I said, look, I want you to make a lot of money. I don’t have any issue with that. But this is craziness and I can’t do that. And they said, well, look, it may be craziness, but that’s our contract. I said, it may be your contract and I’ll see you in court and we’ll fight it out. And I gave up the contracts, but I still paid them a lot of money. But you can’t create a culture when you have one-offs doing whatever they want to do.

RITHOLTZ: You described it as anyone with a personal fiefdom is a terrible idea for a firm.

MACK: Absolutely. And they’re good. They were smart. You would like a room full of Frank Quattrones. But you got to be managed and you got to be a team player.

RITHOLTZ: So someone said to you around this time, hey, we’ve given up a lot of money. What about you, John, what have you given up?

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: And what was your response?

MACK: I gave up the contract.

RITHOLTZ: So you gave up about a third of your salary?

MACK: Yeah, I did.

RITHOLTZ: That’s a big chunk of cash.

MACK: But if you’re going to ask people to give up their contract, you can’t be different than them. This term that I run from Tom DeLong, it’s a one-firm firm, we all have to be in it together. So for me to keep the contract, it’s just not the right thing to do. And also, I learned so much from Dick Fisher. I’m looking way down the road. I’m not looking about what’s going to happen next week or two weeks from now.

RITHOLTZ: Well, that’s a good strategy in investing to say the very least. You wrote in the book, the Swiss and Swiss bankers were unlike any other bankers you work with in the U.K., in China, in Japan. What made the Swiss so much of a one-off?

MACK: Well, they were very independent. They had a lock on certain clients, whether it was leaders out of the Middle East or oligarchs in Russia, they got a lot of money coming in because they were Swiss. They had a great franchise, and they really lived off their private banking business. And in their investment banking business, they had a guy who was very talented, very smart named Allen Wheat and they had other people that come in. But everyone was running it for their own return into their own pocket.

And so when I got there, I cut commissions. I got Frank and his guys to give up some of their money. And someone said, you know, we’re cutting commissions and getting less. Will you give up your contract? And I did. So it just wasn’t being managed. And the Swiss, you know, they make a lot of money because they get money from all the places that maybe JPMorgan and others wouldn’t take. They did a lot of investing with that money. They got to carry on some of it. It’s a great system for running a very profitable business.

But the world was changing, and disclosure was becoming more and more open. People want to know, you know, who has the money, where’s it going, how’s money being transferred. And we finally got that to start moving and changing in Switzerland. And I was pretty tough on them. And of course, they thought I was the most arrogant person they ever met, and I thought they were the dumbest people I’ve ever met so —

RITHOLTZ: In the book, you described actually saying that to their face.

MACK: I did.

RITHOLTZ: Given how secretive they are and how less than team focus they were, you knew this match wasn’t going to last forever. How long did you last at Credit Suisse?

MACK: I think I lasted at least two years, maybe three.

RITHOLTZ: Long enough to start showing a profit in the firm.

MACK: Oh, yeah. We started making money. It was great. I mean, I remember the Olayan Group out of the Middle East said to me, and they were a huge investor in Credit Suisse, John, you’ve done a great job. We’re finally making money again. But I can’t take people telling me, you know, you don’t have access for this, you don’t have access for that. My view, which drove him crazy, was to open up their vault and let the European Jews come in and say how much money Credit Suisse took when World War II started.


MACK: You know, how about the paintings they had? What’s a bank doing with a Renoir in a safe?

RITHOLTZ: What was the response to that?

MACK: They didn’t like it.

RITHOLTZ: Yeah. I can imagine.

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: So you ended up leaving Credit Suisse not long after.

MACK: Well, they wouldn’t renew my contract.

RITHOLTZ: Right. So it wasn’t like you were out and then fired. It was after your contract ended.

MACK: No, I was fired.

RITHOLTZ: So non-renewal and what was the firing like? Tell us a little bit about that. Was it relatively polite and pleasant? The Swiss, they’re not quite German, they’re not quite French, their customs are a little bit different than the rest of Europe.

MACK: Well, when I went to Credit Suisse, they said that I could pick someone that I liked and trusted, a friend to go on the board. And I asked a guy named Tom Bell, who’s a close friend of mine, he used to run Y&R advertising agency, and then he ran Cousins Properties in Atlanta, to go on the board. Then he called me after their meeting and said, John, be prepared, they’re going to fire you tomorrow. I said, well, thanks for heads-up. So I went in, they fired me.

And I sat and I said, you know, Walter, what do you think of this? Trying to get them to talk, but they didn’t want any part of talking. And look, you know, I don’t have any issue with the firm. I guess you could say I was aggressive or obnoxious, one or the other. But we turned the place around.


MACK: We started making money. But, look, I don’t think in general, we have to ask my friends and people who know me. I don’t think I’m arrogant. But clearly, I came across as arrogant know-it-all. And they shot me so, you know —

RITHOLTZ: But you had done a good job there. Let’s talk a bit about Mack the Knife, right?

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: So there’s Chainsaw Al, there’s Neutron Jack. I don’t get the sense that you were as blase about having to reduce headcounts as some other CEOs were.

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: It struck me that Mack the Knife sort of rankled you a little bit, at least that’s how it comes across in the book.

MACK: Yeah. I didn’t mind it. I mean, being known as Mack the Knife, it kind of built a reputation for me. I’d go to a bar somewhere, I’d go to Christmas party with a lot of Wall Street guys, and invariably, someone would be pointing and says Mack the Knife.


MACK: I have an ego. I like that. I am Mack the Knife.

RITHOLTZ: That’s pretty good. So now, you get fired at Credit Suisse.

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: And meanwhile, Morgan Stanley run by the somewhat risk averse, Phil Purcell, starts falling behind all their competitors.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: And lo and behold, there is an agitation to have some change —

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: — at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Tell us what happens next.

MACK: Well, I’m at Pequot which is a hedge fund with —

RITHOLTZ: Art Samberg.

MACK: — Art Samberg and having a good time. And Morgan Stanley is falling on. And then Parker Gilbert, who had been the chairman of the firm, and I think going all the way back, his stepfather was one of the original partners. And JPMorgan spun out and started Morgans —

RITHOLTZ: Wasn’t he related to Henry Morgan also? I mean —

MACK: That I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I don’t know that. Charles Morgan was related to Henry Morgan, who was not on the Management Committee, but there was a relationship going all the way back to the Morgans. So Parker got together with a number of retired partners who own a tremendous amount of Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter stock now. And they went on a campaign to force personnel out, and at the end of the day, they were successful.

RITHOLTZ: And you get the phone call?

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: You, again, briefly thought about it. What did your wife say to you?

MACK: Well, she said I had to do it. She said, John, that firm is part of you and you’ve done so much. You got to go back and do this.

RITHOLTZ: So that you return.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: Your first day of work, you walked into the trading room to deliver just, hey, I’m back. What is that experience like?

MACK: Well, I think Christy, who’s my wife, would say, other than having our kids, it was the happiest moment of her life. She would say that, John, we grew up at Morgan Stanley. We knew the culture. And to come back, and to have people just running to get to the door to welcome us in, it was emotional. I guess a lot of it is just the circumstances. They hadn’t been managed the way I think they should have been managed. They didn’t have a connection with the leadership of the firm. They had become risk averse. And it was no longer, you know, the sense of you do well, you get rewarded. So the meritocracy thing had just dissipated away.

So to walk in and have people scrambling to, you know, get to see me or —

RITHOLTZ: Had it felt good?

MACK: Yeah, it did. It did good. And I’ll never forget when I got up into the auditorium to talk to people and I said, you know, I always wanted to see all of you again, but I never thought I would see you by coming back in here, back to Morgan Stanley and doing it. But it was a thrill. I mean, you know, you don’t get many chances to redo, or recorrect, or change what had happened and go back the way it was. And we were able to do that, and it was a high. And you know, I get Christy and hear me. To her, as I said, other than the kids, that was the highlight of our marriage. So I got to work on it and do some other things.

RITHOLTZ: And I mentioned when you first came in, and I’m sure you don’t remember this, the day you were brought in, you were doing a media tour. And I have a vivid recollection of sitting in a makeup chair in the greenroom at CNBC.


RITHOLTZ: And you and some other people blow in, hi, I’m John Mack.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: Hi. Nice to meet you. What was that about? I asked and someone said, oh, that’s John Mack. He just came back to run Morgan Stanley. I’m like, oh, isn’t that great? And that was, I don’t know, was it ’05? It’s like 15, 17 years ago?

MACK: Yeah, something like that. Yes.

RITHOLTZ: Yeah. Really, really fascinating. And you very quickly rebuilt the firm’s culture. Tell us what you did to bring back the one-firm firm —

MACK: Sure.

RITHOLTZ: — and the meritocracy. How did you get Morgan Stanley back on the straight and narrow again?

MACK: Well, number one, you had to return it to meritocracy. And we had a lot of meetings either in big groups, small groups. Christy and I, one of the things we did early on, if there was a golf outing at Morgan Stanley with clients, if you went out, it’d be all men. And occasionally, there’d be one woman who played golf. So Christy and I said, well, let’s do things. I want women to be in charge of entertaining them than doing their own golf outings.

So we got David Ledbetter and his guys come in, and we did golf lessons up in Purchase, New York for our women professionals. And then we took them down to North Carolina six or seven months later, at a club we belonged to called Landfall and we had, you know, the golf teachers come up and work with them. And the beauty of it is now the women have their own golf outing women-only, which I think is terrific.

So what we tried to do is pull people together and talk about how do you make this a great firm again, because the roots are there, the bones are there. And it was about reaching out and bringing people together, and working for our clients and making sure that we treated people fairly.

RITHOLTZ: So there’s a quote of yours in the book that I found fascinating. You wrote, certain risk-taking behavior multiplied exponentially when investment banks were converted from partnerships to publicly traded companies. I couldn’t agree more.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: Tell us your thoughts.

MACK: Well, the thought was when it was a partner’s money, they were much more conservative.

RITHOLTZ: They were literally joint in several liabilities, literally on the hook —

MACK: Absolutely.

RITHOLTZ: — if the firm lost money. That’s got to focus your attention.

MACK: Oh, it does. And depending on where you were, which firm, but the culture, Morgan Stanley had been a pure investment bank, and they really didn’t have sales and trading either in equities or in fixed income. But what became apparent that firms like Salomon Brothers, were making huge inroads because Jackie Kugler at Salomon could call the CFO at IBM or AT&T and say, hear what pension funds are thinking and doing with your stock. We think there’s an opportunity you could float $100 million equity deal or bond deal. They had better information.

And Morgan Stanley didn’t have that sales and trading business. We were not talking to portfolio managers as traders. We were talking to them as we’re pricing AT&T at 7-1As (ph). How many do you want? That’s the way it worked. But other firms, including Goldman Sachs, they were a two-way shop. They were buying and selling debt and equities with pension funds, and get a lot of information. What were they looking for? And what were they doing? And then you take that back and you show it to New Jersey Bell Telephone or you show it to, you know, AT&T or IBM. You’re bringing that CFO or that treasurer more information, so he can figure out what’s the next move for AT&T or Southern Bell?

RITHOLTZ: So was it inevitable that these firms had to go public just so they had access to those pools of capital to expand into trading and underwriting and everything else?

MACK: Yeah, because at the end of the day, the risk component went up dramatically. And you know, if you go through the crisis, probably if you were not a public company, you’d have wiped out the partnership. So you needed to have a strong base of capital and selling equity, and being in the public market gave you that. It also gave you the liquidity to go in the market to raise more equity if you need it, or do a bond do.

RITHOLTZ: I used to think, hey, big mistake going from partnership to public —

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: — because of the change in risk profile. But it sort of sounds like it was inevitable that all these partnerships would eventually go public.

MACK: Yeah. Well, you know, what’s interesting, if you look at Lazard, they still do business. It was truncated. It’s not what it used to be. If you’re a CFO or a CEO, you want to know what are the hedge funds doing? State of California, State of New York, big pools of money in their pension funds, what are they thinking? What do they need? You want that kind of data. You want to know what are investors looking for?

And I think, you know, if you look back, and it was difficult, we went through a hard time. The Dean Witter merger really changed the firm. Now, you had unbelievable banking, with the retail. And the amount of information that you could bring to a CEO or CFO about markets and then the distribution network you now had was a huge advantage. And I think that’s one of the reasons Morgan Stanley has done so well.

RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. We’ll talk about books in a little while, but you seem to throughout your book, quote Ron Chernow’s House of Morgan a lot.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: How helpful was that in doing your research to write this?

MACK: Well, I had read the book years ago, so I didn’t do a lot of work to dig down. So I would say very little.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, really?

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: Because he just goes berserk on the research side.

MACK: That’s right.

RITHOLTZ: Everything he does is so deeply and richly researched.

MACK: He was never a bond salesman like me.

RITHOLTZ: Well, you were actually on the inside, so it’s a little different. One of the other things you wrote was everybody got the financial crisis wrong. And in the run-up to it, people just didn’t expect the bottom draw (ph) out that much. Tell us a little bit about what took place with Morgan Stanley, leading up to the financial crisis?

MACK: Well, number one, we had too much risk. There was no question about that. But we were not alone. And we did not have a fortress balance sheet like a JPMorgan would have or even a Citibank. You know, no one knows when the bullets come in, but the bullet came and shot a lot of us. And a lot of these companies either merged or went out of business.

And all I can say is thank God for the Japanese and what they did. I mean, that was the lifesaver. They got us through.

RITHOLTZ: Thank you, Mitsubishi with Morgan Stanley.

MACK: Yeah. And as I said to you earlier, they remembered our culture because we would always have Japanese trainees. And they stood up, and that’s what saved us.

RITHOLTZ: So you tell a story in the book, you have Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Tim Geithner coming to you to say, hey, you guys have to find a merger partner.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: And the response is we have $180 billion in capital. This is going to be a painful period, but we’ll survive.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: What was their response?

MACK: They didn’t care.

RITHOLTZ: Didn’t care?


RITHOLTZ: Get more capital.

MACK: Absolutely.

RITHOLTZ: So you reach out to Bank of Mitsubishi.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: And you’re waiting for the term sheet to come in.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: And it’s midnight, and it’s 2:00, and it’s 4:00 a.m. It’s 6:00 a.m. And then Tim Geithner calls, and then Hank Paulson calls, and then a third time, Tim Geithner calls. What happens next?

MACK: Well, what happens, the check flew in to Boston, and we had to send one of our bankers up to pick up the check and fly back. So he was at home. It’s over the weekend. And he went up in his dungarees and running shoes, and picked up a check for, I don’t know, a billion some, and brought it down. I got a copy of it framed in my office back at the townhouse. The Japanese saved us. They saved us because they remember our culture. And we used to train tons of Japanese bankers at Morgan Stanley.

RITHOLTZ: So you’re waiting for the final word from Bank of Mitsubishi.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: I think you know where I’m going.

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: And now, Geithner calls for the umpteenth time and your secretary pokes her head and then says, it was the head of New York Fed —

MACK: Of New York Fed. Right.

RITHOLTZ: — Tim Geithner and he’s insistent.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: And you basically said, we’re going to figure this out ourselves.

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: And you did.

MACK: And we did. Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: And what’s your relationship with Tim now?

MACK: I liked him.


MACK: I mean, listen, to me, I hope it’s not personal to him. And the point was I’m trying to save the firm. I can’t take all these calls when I’m talking to the Japanese. So you know, we’re under the gun. He’s a decent guy. But he had his job to do and I had my job to do. And at the end of the day, it worked.

RITHOLTZ: And in fact, the Treasury Department taps Morgan Stanley to help with the AIG bailout.

MACK: Yeah, they did.

RITHOLTZ: So that was a good working relationship. You actually had a good relationship with Hank Paulson —

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: — from when he was CEO of Goldman.

MACK: Yeah, he’s the best. Well, look, he’s honest. He’s smart. He’s straightforward. He gets things done. I have a lot of respect for Hank Paulson.

RITHOLTZ: Before we get to our favorite questions, there were a couple of little curveballs I wanted to throw you. There’s a story in the book, you talked about somebody who you go to, who you know is a giant Duke basketball fan. And you asked him to give up part of his bonus, as you were doing.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: And very begrudgingly, he did it for the team.

MACK: Right.

RITHOLTZ: And then you get Coach K involved. Tell us that story. It’s charming.

MACK: Well, he was a huge fan of Duke and I needed him onboard with what I was trying to do. And he gave up some power and money to accommodate me. And Mike Krzyzewski is a good friend of mine, a close friend of mine. So I called Coach K and I said, Mike, do me a favor. Will you call this gentleman and just tell him how much I appreciate what he’s done and that you are happy that you helped my friend John Mack out? So Mike calls the guy and he said, look, I want to tell you what you did is really something. John Mack is, he didn’t call me an a-hole, he said John Mack is a selfish tough guy, and what you did just warmed his heart. And I want to thank you because he’s my friend. The salesman was on cloud nine.

RITHOLTZ: I can imagine. And then another curveball I got to ask you —

MACK: Sure.

RITHOLTZ: — you once stole Barton Biggs’ car.

MACK: We hid it. His car was a dump.

RITHOLTZ: Right. It was a clunker. He had a broken rear window.

MACK: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: He just taped it off. He didn’t even replace the window.

MACK: Yeah, we hid the car and he was like —

RITHOLTZ: And then you had a make-believe sheriff from North Carolina call him?

MACK: Right. Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: And what was his reaction?

MACK: Well, he laughed at the end, but he had no idea what was going on. And Bart is a wonderful man, but he is a good guy to pull pranks on. So what I’ve learned in pulling pranks —

RITHOLTZ: Of which there are numerous examples in the book.

MACK: But here’s what I’ve learned, though. When the prank is on you, laugh. Because everyone is trying to get me in one way or another.

RITHOLTZ: Very, very funny. So we only have a few minutes left.

MACK: Sure.

RITHOLTZ: Let me jump to some of my favorite questions that we ask all of our guests. Tell us about your early mentors who helped to shape your career.

MACK: Number one, Dick Fisher, just hands down. He would call me and say, look, John, you got to do this. I know you’re aggressive. You’re a great salesman. You can’t manage people and try to threaten them and scare them. You got to ease up. So he did that. Also, I could go to him if I had a problem, a question. So he was without question, my best mentor.

And the other person is not that she mentored me, she’s my wife. She’ll say, John, you know, you want to reach out to that person and you know their kid is sick. You got him into Children’s Hospital, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. So she’s been a wonderful partner in telling me, you know, you’re being a little too aggressive, back down. And I think she’s right, I have softened up. Yeah, I think I have softened up. And that’s another thing. Morgan Stanley got behind us and we built this Children’s Hospital, which the employees love. They go up there on the weekends, and they read stories to kids.


MACK: That’s how you build a culture, that you do things like that. And I’m trying to thank Frank Bennack who’s at Hearst Corporation. He said to me he thought that was the best sign of corporate philanthropy he’s ever seen. So if some time you’re up near New York Presbyterian Uptown, if you go into the Children’s Hospital, Morgan Stanley Children’s, you’ll see on the wall that Morgan Stanley gave a lot of money. And then you’ll see names of hedge funds and other clients, when they heard what we’re doing, they gave money.

And you know, New York is huge. You got, you know, the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. You got them in Boston. New York City didn’t have a standalone children’s hospital. And our employees will go up there now and read books to the kids on the weekend sometimes.


MACK: It is a wonderful thing we did. We’re really, really happy with it.

RITHOLTZ: You should be very proud of that. You mentioned books. Let’s talk about some of your favorites and what are you reading currently.

MACK: Well, actually, I just read my book again. My favorite book all-time is Gone with the Wind. Can you believe that?

RITHOLTZ: That’s a big book, right?

MACK: It is a big book. So I’m taking history of the south at Duke University. And one of the things you had to do, you had to read 50 pages every other day about a history or something with a sound. So I picked up Gone with the Wind. I didn’t put it down until I finished it.

RITHOLTZ: Really? Wow.

MACK: If you haven’t read it, you got to read it.

RITHOLTZ: Seen the movie, never read the book.

MACK: The book is awesome.


MACK: It’s just awesome. So —

RITHOLTZ: What sort of advice would you give to a recent college graduate who is interested in a career in finance or investing?

MACK: Well, number one, you have to pursue it. You got to get in the door. Hopefully, you have a background that will help you. If your education, let’s say you’re a history major, I was a history major. If your education doesn’t put you naturally into that glide path, then take courses and get into that glide path. Go to school at night, get your MBA, that helps.

But more importantly, figure out how do you get to know people within that company. Make sure your job you have now, you’ve performed well in it. And get to know people in the company and get introduced by them to the head of a division or department. But you can get in it. I mean, there’s a lot of ways to get in this business. And one way of doing it, go work for JPMorgan, their asset management business. Go work for a hedge fund. Go work for a lot of people who are in the business and learn kind of the day-to-day sales and training business.

And if you want to be an M&A specialist, my advice is you need to have a degree in accounting or an MBA where you can really zero in and have the training that you need to do and do that. You can do that business. If you didn’t have any experience, if they give you a chance, my point is you got to give them enough information that they want to give you a chance. And the way you do that is do extra work, or work for a hedge fund, or work for, you know, whoever it may be and you’ll get that shot.

RITHOLTZ: And our last question, what do you know about the world of investing today that you wish you knew 50 years or so ago, when you were first getting started?

MACK: That great companies that you invest in, you should hold. And I always was looking for the profit and I made money on it. But some of these companies, well, take Apple Computer.

RITHOLTZ: Perfect example.

MACK: I’ll give you a great example. My son, 11 years old, Morgan Stanley takes Apple public. I buy him a computer. He says, dad, this is a great company, I want to buy stock in it. And he’s like 11 or 12 years old, and he buys shares on it. I think that small purchase is well worth over a couple million dollars when he did.


MACK: So he understood great companies and his father did. You hold them. He’s never sold a share.


MACK: And it’s just been a home run. So I believe —

RITHOLTZ: Well, dad is a trader. The son is an investor.

MACK: An investor. That’s right. A smart investor. So I believe you buy great companies and hold them, and that’s what we do now. We have a family office that helps me, we work with them. And we still meet and talk to a lot of investors.

RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. John, thank you for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with John Mack, former CEO of Morgan Stanley, and author of the fascinating book Up Close and All In: Life and Leadership Lessons really from a Wall Street Warrior.

If you enjoy this conversation, well, be sure and check out any of our previous 500 we’ve done over the past eight or nine years. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Sign up for my daily reading list at Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. Check out all of the Bloomberg podcasts on Twitter at podcasts.

I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps put these conversations together each week. Justin Milner is my audio engineer. Atika Valbrun is my project manager. Sean Russo is my head of Research. Paris Wald is my producer.

I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.






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