Long before Greg Smith or the Vampire Squid or Zero Hedge or the Billion Dollar Global Settlement or the repeal of Glass-Steagal, there was Sandy “S.B.” Lewis, the original Reformed Broker.
Before I was even born (let alone blogging) Sandy was puttin’ the wood to ‘em and telling the truth. He became disgusted at an early time in his career, tried to do things right, got along with no one and then made a very big mistake that earned him an industry exile. His story is fascinating – both for his own orneriness and because of how remarkable it is that so little has changed.
Here’s Michael Powell and Danny Hakim at the New York Times:
Mr. Lewis saw in Wall Street a three-dimensional chess game played at great velocity. “Brain not brawn, and the smartest wins, yes!” he said.
He came to conceive of the Street as a drainage system, every pipe connected to another. Inside information sluiced from brokerages to white-shoe law firms to investment houses.
He glimpsed this world when he returned to New York in 1964. He said he sat in the front of his father’s Cadillac limousine, listening as Cy and friends talked angrily about a partner who had impersonated a reporter for The New York Times and got a half-hour drop on a Supreme Court decision. The firm profited by trading ahead of the news.
Mr. Lewis said he confronted his father that night. Dad, you must fire that man. Cy shook his head: He is too valuable, Son.
“That,” Mr. Lewis said recently, “was when I realized that the trouble on Wall Street was systemic.”
He refused to sit at the Four Seasons trolling for inside tips and paying for call girls for clients.
He was fired by all the best firms: Salomon Brothers, White Weld, Dean Witter and Merrill Lynch.
The whole profile is awesome, get over there: