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September 30, 2009

Finance Looks Around the Bend

Catherine New
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“Your Business School years have coincided with an extraordinary time and now you have a huge opportunity,” Paul Calello ’87 told students in a recent lecture. “The themes of this time are change and responsibility.”

The CEO of the investment bank and a member of the executive boards for Credit Suisse Group and Credit Suisse, shared his views on the financial crisis and gave mentor advice on September 17 as part of the Silfen Leadership Series. Calello serves on the School’s Board of Overseers.

In discussing the impact of the crisis on the financial industry, Calello talked about the ways banks have had to innovate new solutions. He pointed to Credit Suisse’s executive compensation strategy as an example. The bank made headlines last December when it announced it would use its illiquid assets to fund some of its executive compensation packages.

“At first it was internally unpopular … but it was the right and responsible thing to do,” Calello said. “It was a way to align with the interests of shareholders, continue to rid the firm of these risky assets and, at the same time, address employees’ needs.”

Looking into the near future for the finance industry, Calello said he expected “many more significant developments to come in the next two years,” particularly from regulators. In response to a question about job opportunities, he said flow trading areas and products that are exchange-traded and centrally cleared would be strong.

As for practical advice for MBA students, he said there was no alternative to hard work and urged students to learn all they can about the crisis they’ve been living through.

“You will be part of an era of reform,” he said. “We’re relying on you to not repeat mistakes that have been made, but to help restore trust and confidence in our industry.”

Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School