By Kevin Schultz
Like most everybody else on the Street, he was hard working and aggressive. He was president of Ladenburg Thalmann Securities in the early 1970s. He was the whistleblower on the first Securities Investor Protection Corp. liquidation on the New York Stock Exchange, Weis, Voisin & Co.
But business didn't come first for Richard, and I am a case in point. Back in 1966, he received two phone calls at once. One was from his boss at E.F. Hutton, giving him his registered rep number. Now he could make money. But the other was my mother telling him to come home because she was ready. The trades could--and would--come later.
After stops with Muriel Seibert, Bear Stearns and Wiesenberger, Richard started his own firm, Triad Securities, in 1976. Triad was based in the old Trinity Building, which is less than half a block from Zuccotti Park. Until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2011, just as the first protesters were setting up their tents, he literally occupied the Street, arriving in the office at 6:30 every morning and running his trading desk until the closing bell at 4 in the afternoon.
Yet as much as he loved the firm and the work--and in contrast to the stereotype of the Wall Street titan that Occupy Wall Street so clearly tried to perpetuate--Richard was even more dedicated to the people he managed and served. He wanted to help his employees, by giving them a job and teaching them a business. He wanted to help his customers. The customer is always right, he believed, and he always fought in the markets for the best price for the client.
Richard gave up opportunities for his own wealth to make sure his clients thrived. Never having a trading operation, he was able to let Triad do its best for the customer. Yes, he could have made more money trying risky ventures like trading. He could have navigated the rules and maneuvered around the Chinese walls. But he felt a moral obligation to not compete with the customer. That was how he lived his life.
He was molded from an old-school mentality, always talking about the next down market. In his view, unless you worked before 1975, you didn't know what a recession was. Then 2000 came and the dot-com bubble burst. Times were tough. A few months later, the World Trade Center--two blocks away--was attacked and knocked down.
Yet Richard kept his focus amid the hysteria. He could see growth coming if he stayed true to his discipline. And the markets--including his initial focus area, initial public offerings--did recover. In the Great Recession of 2008-2009, his so-called "plodder style" allowed the firm to survive perhaps its greatest financial challenge, without losing an employee. Triad even recorded its biggest revenue year ever in 2010, his last full year of work.
Richard passed away from pancreatic cancer on Jan. 31, 2012, at age 71. He left behind his wife, Judith; daughters Cynthia and Carrie; sons Anthony and myself; and grandchildren Ryan and Rachel. He also left behind 32 employees who are dedicated to preserve his name and his legacy. That Richard Schultz legacy--to run an honest business, live by your word and look out for others--is to me the most important, especially in these uncertain political and socioeconomic times.
I don't necessarily want to glorify him as a genius, but he was able to expand the business globally, and he did anticipate the growth of the hedge-fund industry by being an early provider of prime brokerage. More importantly, I want the 99.9% of Americans who don't work on Wall Street to know that people like Richard Schultz exist, though they are not common and even more rarely seen in a place of greed and power.
Richard Schultz was a mentor, a friend and a larger-than-life personality who occupied Wall Street the right way for 45 years. Yes, my children will always remember him as grandpa, our employees will remember their boss and the customers will remember a fair business partner. I just wish the rest could have known that there is a right way to do business and help others while being a success.
Thank you Dad for showing me how to be a boss and good person.