From non-target to BB CEO: My story

Mod Note (Andy): #TBT Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted on 11/25/13. Check out @DickFuld"'s current Q&A here. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

I was like many of you at one point in my life. I was a non-target student with big dreams. Luckily, I was an extraordinary networker and worked my way into Lehman on the commercial paper desk. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I breathed the CP market and built a reputation from an early age as someone you should not fuck with.

Fixed income was becoming the lifeblood of our firm and I was at the epicenter of it. Lew Glucksman was a God at our firm. He had his office at the center of our trading floor and used to smoke cigars in his little glass encased office. Usually only coming out to yell at someone for botching a trade. (side note: he once became so angry that he kicked a trash can during the middle of the day and shattered the glass wall of his office) Lew was determined to show these fancy investment bankers how real money was made and he did. He eventually became the CEO, which was virtually unheard of at the time. Traders didn't become CEOs, but times were changing rapidly. I wanted to be him. I bled Lehman green through and through.

I stuck through the firm through the roughest of times. The first wave of shit was when we were bought by American Express. These people really didn't know what to do with us. They sold charge cards and we made mountains of money trading bonds. It was a horrible fit and we all wanted out. We eventually got our wish and spun out in 1994 with me as the CEO. 1998 was another tough time for us...the god damned short sellers were out to get us with the LTCM debacle. We were liquid with solid financials, but they were looking to take us down, but we weathered the storm and it made us stronger. The 2001 terrorist attacks nearly ruined us again, but we pulled together as a team and our clients rewarded us again.

My goal was for Lehman to be the top investment bank in the world and in many respects, that's what we became. But, first, we had to grow and invest in the other parts of our business to give us a more balanced approach to printing money. I invested heavily in the equities business and we sat atop the Institutional Investor equity research rankings for years. I invested heavily in our banking business and we did well there too. I built up an Asset Management franchise that was capped off by our purchase of Neuberger Berman in 2003. We were a globally diversified company that could provide expertise to virtually any financial problem. Our stock outperformed all of the other investment banks and almost every financial company out there. I was named CEO of the year multiple times because of our success in providing liquidity and solutions to our clients.

As you surely know by now, not everything turned out perfectly for us. We were in a similar position to the other banks in 2007, but the world started coming apart. Politics would eventually be the end of Lehman. Hank Paulson was determined to get us, he was so envious of what we accomplished and didn't want to see us dethrone his beloved Goldman Sachs, which we were all but certain to do. We also had the brother and the cousin of the POTUS on our payroll, which didn't help. So, they made us fail.

Ultimately, do I feel responsibility for what happened? Yes, I do. I will remember what happened for as long as I'm still breathing and I'm sorry that I let down my employees (who I consider family), our clients, and our shareholders. That being said, I'll never forgive those bastards (Paulson, Geithner, Bush) for what they did to the company we all loved. Anyway, there have been a lot of negative things said about me, so I just wanted to get the truth out there.

-- Dick

(PS -- nobody ever hit me in the company locker room, that was a lie designed to sell newspapers)


Hmmm... Harvey Specter working with Dick intriguing idea indeed. Imagine Harvey along side Dick as his partner and trusted counsel. Together they seek to rebuild the Lehman empire from the ashes, rehabilitate the Fuld name and prove to Jessica that Harvey is managing partner material after all. All the while as they face off against the unholy trinity of the SEC, the Justice Department and Daniel Hartman.

I'd much rather watch this show than the nonsensical saga involving Hessington Oil, Edward Darby etc. So Mr. Fuld, would you be interested to make a lateral move to showbiz and starr as yourself? You never know, sometimes life imitates art...Please do make sure that Louise and Katrina (not Mike pls!) get to make cross-over appearances one in a while.

Too late for second-guessing Too late to go back to sleep.
brandon st randy:

This is getting out of hand. Can someone at WSO verify the OP's identity?
To Mr. Fuld, if it really is you, what is your opinion on Mark Walsh?

Mark's the best real estate guy in the business, period.  Fair to say the SunCal deal didn't turn out great, but literally nobody saw that coming.  It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but it's a lot harder to actually play the game.

This is a really fascinating post. What was it that killed Lehman specifically? I had heard a rumor that when Lehman needed cash to pay for its debt and a couple of rival banks (I think specifically Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, I've heard) were holding securities and cash that Lehman owned, but would not allow it to access them, thus forcing the firm into bankruptcy (despite solvency). Can you shed some light on this? Is it based in truth, or complete and utter bunk?

Leveraged Bailout:

This is a really fascinating post. What was it that killed Lehman specifically? I had heard a rumor that when Lehman needed cash to pay for its debt and a couple of rival banks (I think specifically Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, I've heard) were holding securities and cash that Lehman owned, but would not allow it to access them, thus forcing the firm into bankruptcy (despite solvency). Can you shed some light on this? Is it based in truth, or complete and utter bunk?

There were some real problems that were short term in nature. Our mortgage book was fully hedged, so that wasn't the problem. We were at war and some of our competitors couldn't win a fair fight, so they spread rumors about our liquidity and some even pulled lines of credit on us. It was ugly people playing ugly games. I already mentioned my distaste for Paulson and how he misled us. We had great branding with him, but he caved to political pressure at the time. The guy's a fuckin' pussy and I'll never forgive him.

Screw Warren Buffett.

[quote]The HBS guys have MAD SWAGGER. They frequently wear their class jackets to boston bars, strutting and acting like they own the joint. They just ooze success, confidence, swagger, basically attributes of alpha males.[/quote]
Simple As...:

How'd you feel about Jimmy Woods being chosen to portray you in Too Big To Fail? Who would you have chosen?

I don't watch movies and I don't know who Jimmy Woods is.


[quote=patternfinder]Of course, I would just buy in scales. [/quote] See my WSO Blog | my AMA

Are some of you guys really dumb enough to think this is actually Dick Fuld? Have you read any of his other posts?

Still a funny writeup though.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

"do I feel responsibility for what happened? Yes"


The real Dick Fuld only cares about himself. He needs to man up and own that whole thing, it's the only way to not look like a whiney bitch blaming everyone else for his problems. Stop blaming the gov't for not bailing LEH out. Stop blaming Goldman for managing their risk better. Stop blaming every goddamn thing except the dumb mistakes (40x leverage on speculative positions???) you made. And really, please, for the love of pearl, stop blaming the buy side. Of course they're going after a company when they smell blood, it's what they do, and who's job is it to hold things down when the sharks are circling? And why are they there in the first place?

Sorry to be so mean, but really.

Get busy living


You have no idea what you're talking about. You've never been to war like me. It's a jungle out there and people couldn't face me head on, so they played dirty. We were a group of underdogs who fought our way to the top and the ingrained players were scared shitless that we were going to eat their lunch. So, they shut us down through rumors and the government did absolutely nothing to stop it. They should be ashamed of themselves. No bank can survive the death-spiral that results from a crisis of confidence, not even the great Lehman Brothers. Freedom of speech does not mean you can yell 'fire' in a crowded room and that's exactly what happened to us.


Whatever happened to the Dick Fuld that punched a superior officer in the face? Sure you're not supposed to but it's one of the reasons I wanted to work at your shop after school. I respected you because you were a MAN. Now we're hearing "you don't know what it's like".....SO TELL ME, I WANT TO KNOW.

For years now, all I've heard you say is "look at what these people did to us", while being content to hold on to your cash. You acted like a bitch in a divorce. All we heard from you was "poor me, oh look at how mean everyone is".


If you're the real Dick, I want to know what happened to you. You had balls. You were mean. You were tough. You were smart. Everyone was saying that LEH was going to eclipse GS, if they hadn't already. You were a fucking MAN. Now all I hear is excuses. I want to know what the hell happened to the guy I looked up to and wanted to work for.

Dick. Seriously. What happened?

Get busy living

I'm not divorced. Listen, I'm sure I sound paranoid. But, just because you sound paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't looking over your shoulder. Those bastards were out to get me and nearly brought down the economy to do so. Literally the only major firm to go bankrupt was Lehman, you can't tell me that's a coincidence.

Also, nobody can ever claim that I kept all my cash. I had most of my net worth in LEH and lost nearly $1 billion. I was a true believer.


Why is everyone acting like a regular WSO poster is actually Dick Fuld?

Shh. You're missing the point.
Currently: future neurologist, current psychotherapist Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

Dick, this is the one forum on earth that's really going to understand you. Go into detail. Never mind my tone, I just wanted to make sure I had your attention.

Why do you think LEH was singled out? And how were you even in that position?

Get busy living
Why do you think LEH was singled out?
I've already mentioned why. Hank fucking Paulson had it out for us because he was worried that we would overtake the number one spot from his baby, Goldman Sachs. We also had two relatives of GWB on our payroll, which made it difficult to help Lehman from a political standpoint. It's all politics. We really didn't want to help out during the LTCM crisis and some people used that as a chance for vengeance on us. We didn't do as much business with LTCM as the others did, so we shouldn't have chipped in as much as the other guys. It wasn't right. People have no morals anymore.

Sooooo, an administration known for inbreeding and nepotism didn't help a company with their relatives on the payroll but they permitted Hank Paulson to hook up his favorite firm? More to the point, how were you guys even in that position? Maybe you really were captain of the Titanic, I get it, but at least go into detail.

To be honest, here's what a lot of us are looking for:

Without a "YOU'RE GOD DAMN RIGHT I DID IT" moment, a lot of us really just think you're telling the story in a way that indicates hiding from some type of guilt or legal liability.

Get busy living

We told the head of our investment management division (GWB's cousin) to call GWB to open up the Fed window. He didn't pick up the phone and I know it's because Paulson told him not to.

I have nothing to hide, which is why I'm here getting the truth out. If it makes you sleep at night, I'll be your bad guy who you can lay blame on for all your problems. But, you're only fooling yourself.


It says "John Paulson" in the OP. I call shenanigans.

"They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of your guys to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way.

John Paulson? LOL. GWB's cousin didn't call Bush directly on his personal line? You're saying that Hank Paulson had more influence with George than his own cousin? I call bullshit.

Get busy living
GWB's cousin didn't call Bush directly on his personal line? You're saying that Hank Paulson had more influence with George than his own cousin? I call bullshit.
that's exactly right. Look, who has more influence over you on a day to day basis? Your boss/co-workers or a cousin you've seen twice in the past 13 years? Get a grip.

This is about you, the former CEO and not me, the faceless slave. Let's keep it straight. So you're saying you didn't even try? Wow. You're saying that GWB's cousin had no influence? Are you retarded? He was on a first name basis with the president at the time. How can you not take advantage of that? Do you really expect anyone to agree with you on that point? I'd have to be retarded to see things your way. Whatever dude.

That's not even the main event: how did you guys even let things get to that point? Why did the firm even need help? Did you just suck at your job? Did you get arrogant and lazy?