Marshall N. Carter spoke with GBA students, alumni, and veterans about his experience and expertise in the financial services sector during a visit to the college on Jan. 30 at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus.
Carter, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange Group, deputy chairman of NYSE Euronext, and Distinguished Visitor in Residence at the Graduate School of Business Administration, was the featured speaker at a meeting of the Fordham Wall Street Council.
Before “Leadership in Financial Services,” a question-and-answer session with the Wall Street Council at the Lowenstein Center, Carter spent two hours chatting with a dozen new veterans who are Fordham students or recent graduates.
A former Marine Corps infantry officer, Carter served two tours of duty in Vietnam, for which he received the Navy Cross and a Purple Heart in 1967. He discussed the challenges of transitioning from military life to the corporate world. They include:
• discerning hidden agendas where there once were none;
• adjusting to consensus-style management;
• going from a place that is a way of life to one that merely pays the bills.; and
• overcoming preconceived notions about serving during wartime.
“I had a boss who was absolutely convinced that during a staff meeting, I was going to have a combat flashback and jump on the table and start yelling. I didn’t always disabuse him of that notion because he wasn’t a guy I got along with anyway,” he said to laughter.
“We didn’t come to grips with Agent Orange, drugs in Vietnam and homeless veterans, but I do think you guys have to come to grips with post-traumatic stress disorder, spousal abuse, and suicide. Those are the big issues for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.”
Technical competence, advanced communication skills and adaptability are the keys to succeeding in the private sector, he said.
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Nicholas Frandsen, a former Marine sergeant who is majoring in political science at the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, agreed with Carter’s assertion that it is difficult to translate military responsibilities into terms that civilians can understand on a resume.
“One tip that was very helpful was to use words like maximize, coordinate, enhance, and communication,” Fransen said.
“Carrying a gun around Iraq doesn’t tell [a potential employer]that I have tangible leadership qualities, but once I was able to tease those qualities out of my military experience, I thought my resume looked quite strong.”
Carter suggested that soldiers tone down the management style that served them well in the military. What works in the armed forces, which emphasizes strict hierarchy and depends on directness, might be seen as pushy in the civilian world.
The trick, he suggested, is to make it clear to your co-workers that you’re basing your decisions on what is best for the customer.
At the Wall Street Council meeting, he tackled a plethora of questions about topics that include excessive executive pay, rising European opposition to the Volker Rule, and the recent drop in initial public offerings.
He expressed disappointment that none of the CEOs of major banks have taken more responsibility for their roles in the mortgage crisis that let to the 2008 financial meltdown.
When it was suggested that the problem was a structural one, and not one of lax regulation of the financial sector, Carter agreed to a point, saying that that the ratings agencies Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch bear some responsibility.
“Although I don’t think there’s a silver bullet, I believe the ratings agencies have been called to task for their conduct in the last three years. I do not believe that they have really been held accountable for some of those ratings,” he said.
He also questioned the wisdom of the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program. Although the 2008 bailout of several major financial institutions prevented a larger crisis, it made the remaining Wall Street banks—including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America—even more powerful.
“The banks now are three things: commercial, service, and proprietary trading,” Carter said. “Maybe we should have let one of the big players—instead of giving them all that TARP money, which there were no hooks on—be broken up?”
“The question I would have is, ‘Did the trouble really start in 1999 when Glass-Stiegal was repealed?’”