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The American Banker

[2001] This reporter had just ended his day at the New York Stock Exchange, corner of Wall Street & Broad, finishing up a story on the Technology Crash of the New Millennium, when I grabbed a drink at one of those Clandestine Bars found only in The Financial Capital, and feeling a bit out of place among the suits and ties guys wearing my salary. 

Luckily I sat next to a personable fellow with a voice made for radio, a regular guy amidst Wharton and Harvard Blue Bloods. I made idle conversation hoping the real story of the day might be the one no one sees coming.

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Richard Easton entered Wall Street through the back door. Armed only with a degree in English Literature and five years of finance experience, he founded Easton Bank of San Francisco with his hard earned money and a line of credit in 1988: "In those days, attitudes were different." Easton smiles, "Bank presidents lent money over three martini lunches based on a man's character. Today you can only borrow money if you don't need it."

When he was ready to sell Easton Bank SF in 1999, no advisory firm had a quick enough plan, so he sold his boutique bank in three weeks to Merrill Lynch for all cash: "If you have something someone wants, offered at a fair price with total transparency, acquisitions are easy," says Easton, "and that's how I learned M&A."

I visited Easton the next day in his new digs at 14 Wall Street. Investment banking has a new team in town.

The American Banker

Feb 2001 Copyright ©