Long ago, and oh so far away, I fell in love with you, before I wrote the second Pfennig… You dear reader, you have kept me going through good times and bad, sickness and health, and all my whining. I couldn’t have done it without you… The last 10 years have been difficult for me, as you know, and I never held back any of the details.
I bet you’re wondering what this is all about and what is Chuck getting at this morning… Well, I’ve never been one to beat around the bush, so I’ll just come right out and tell you that now the TIAA/ EverBank transaction has been completed I’ll be retiring from EverBank (but wait, not the Pfennig – you aren’t rid of me yet).
It has been an eventful 17 years. Building a first-class World Markets business, traveling relentlessly, speaking, and doing all the other ancillary things that go with it. And making sure the Pfennig went out every day even when I was suffering with the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. There’s a lot to do in an entrepreneurial business and it was great to be a major player.
Indulge me a little nostalgia . . .
In 1992, Frank Trotter, came to me, and asked me to join his World Markets group at the old Mark Twain Bank… It was a small group, but they were growing by leaps and bounds, and in need of a foreign bond trader. I had spent time, in the past, on the bond trading desk, trading short-term instruments, like Commercial Paper, Bankers Acceptances, T-Bills, and so on. I thought that this would be a great move for me, so I grabbed the opportunity. That was one of the wisest things I’ve ever done. After weeks of studying foreign bonds and talking to foreign bond dealers to get an idea as to how they wanted to be dealt with, I began trading foreign bonds for Mark Twain Bank. Not long after that, I noticed that the sales people would come in each day, and spend the next hour trying to figure out what happened in the overnight markets. The problem was that the phones were on during this time of discovery for the sales people, and they often times didn’t know what to say.
Well, I arrived at work at least an hour before everyone else, and so I decided to start giving the sales staff some notes as to what happened overnight, and what to expect that day. I would walk over to the copy machine to make enough to put on the trader’s desks. The sales staff loved them! They loved the notes so much that that started faxing these hand-written notes to their clients. And that was the beginning of the distribution of the Pfennig. By 1995, Frank Trotter had developed a website for Mark Twain Bank, and the website needed new content daily… Ahhh, the Pfennig! It began to get posted on the website, and then soon after, email came along, and clients wanted the letter emailed to them each day. And now, 25 years after the first hand written letter, it’s time for my boot-heels to be a wanderin’ (got to love the Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan).
In 1994, our currency trader left Mark Twain Bank, and I volunteered to do the currency trading, and foreign bond trading along with the risk management duties for the World Markets Group. It made sense, for each foreign bond bought or sold, there was a foreign currency transaction to go with it. Now I could add currency trends and movements that I saw each day to the Daily Pfennig..
In the early days of EverBank, we didn’t have foreign currency CD ‘s and savings accounts. That business we had run at Mark Twain Bank was offered at First Star Bank who had bought Mercantile Bank, who had bought Mark Twain Bank. In June of 2000, EverBank bought the deposit book from First Star… At that time, the total deposits were $ 48 million, but within a month the deposits had fallen to $ 23 Million… At this time, it was just Chuck answering the phone, doing the trades, entering the trades, doing the risk management, and stuffing envelopes with statements. In other words, chef, cook, and bottle washer.. Soon, Cheryl Harper sat at my left-hand side clearing trades, doing general ledgers, etc. manually! My Friday latte’ Buddy, Michelle Boschert, ran the operations side. I had brought Jen Evans (now Mclean) with me to run the brokerage piece of the company, EverTrade Direct Brokerage, which I had started working on in my basement.
Next on board was our little Christine Jamieson (now Peplow)… She was full of energy and jumped in with both feet. Between having Jen and Christine as co-workers that I could depend on, I was ready for World Markets to begin to grow… And grow it did! Our Marketing guru, David Galland, read the white paper I wrote in 2001, called: The Decline of the Dollar, and decided to put his marketing prowess to work. Soon, we needed more people to talk to the ever-expanding list of new clients. That’s when Old Mark Twain Bank colleague, John Kaupisch came on board. And in 2003, another old Mark Twain Bank colleague joined us, Chris Gaffney, who is now the President of EverBank World Markets.
Working at an early stage company is always more than a full-time job – and building World Markets was no exception. I always think back to those times, when we were growing like a weed, and working 13-14 hour days, and ordering Pizza on the desk for dinner while we worked. Looking back at it I was pretty stressed helping to make it all happen. I do wonder how that played into my Stage 4 metastatic renal cell carcinoma (Kidney cancer) that I was diagnosed with in 2007 since I never smoked and was always active and strong as an ox. So, If you ever learn anything in life know that stress is not a good thing, and too much of it may lead to deadly diseases….
In 2001, we began to go to conferences and shows, and I would speak at these venues. One presentation at the Orlando Money Show, had the room completely filled, with people standing all along the walls, the aisles were filled with people sitting on the floor, and there were still hundreds of people outside the room wanting to get in. All to hear me speak… So, Chris stood at the back of the room, keeping the people from crowding into the room and probably creating a fire hazard, and would repeat what I was saying to the crowd outside the room. It truly was one of the best presentations I ever made.
I used to do a Top Ten Reasons why you should diversify with currencies and metals, and I would have cards with topics to talk about that were numbered 1-10, just like a David Letterman feature, and I would sail the cards into the crowd when I was finished with each one. Or there was the time in Vancouver when I had the crowd there singing… My presentations were never boring!
Over the years, I saved my lanyards with my name and company on them with the show or conference I was attending, and they hang on my coat/ hat stand in my office. I don’t know what I’ll do with them now that I won’t have an office to put the coat/ hat sand in. But there are hundreds of these “reminders” for me of where I was, what I was talking about, and the great people I met through the years.
As a group, sales, trading and operations, we were a tight knit group, and we worked long hours, but when it was time to kick back and have a cold adult beverage and talk about our day or week, we did that, and those “happy hours” will always be remembered by me as something I did, to bring our group together.
Now a little about the future . . .
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As always you can visit www.dailypfennig.com to read my commentary right up to date!
It has been a great long run at EverBank… You know, I worked 17 years at Mark Twain Bank, and 17 years at EverBank… Now I am headed off to another chapter. Maybe it’ll be writing the Pfennig for another 17 year giving you, dear reader, the truth, and someone to look under the hood, and tell you that things aren’t as the cable media would have you believe. I’ll be there for you.
I’ve adopted lyrics from “the Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel to be my theme song… Ready? Here goes…
In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains
Thanks for reading, please stay with me as I go to my new home, and thanks for indulging me as I went through this nostalgic walk back in time… Until we exchange emails again… I ask you to Be Good To Yourself!
EverBank Global Markets
Creator / Editor of: A Pfennig For Your Thoughts