Know your Customer, Lenny style

05/07/2017

 

CEO's Notes


 

Lenny's Business Card I spent summer of 1992 training at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and in Washington D. C., the latter experience made special by the excellent hospitality of Vince Cremona, the Maltese Chief of Protocol to Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Within the vault-like basement of the Fed building on Constitution Avenue, there was the barbershop of Leonard Gilleo, the self-appointed "Hairman of the Board." Lenny’s business card (image) plays with the Fed’s coat-of-arms and also carries his trademark insight on follicle economics: "My monetary policy is greatly affected by your growth rate."

Graced with more hair than now, I would visit the barber twice during my stay, courtesies of Mr Cremona. There I was sitting in the same chair as many bigwigs, including Mr Greenspan who visited Lenny every four weeks for a 20-30 minute session. The kind of access that Wall Street and fiscal policy pundits would kill for.

Gilleo was an institution at the Fed, raconteur, confidant and confessor. But calling him up for an appointment was impossible: you were only accepted if well-introduced by his clients. Lenny’s policy: "No reference, no cut", prudent from someone whose trade intersected with the stories of important people.

Bankers have become synonymous with stringent KYC and Due Diligence policies and procedures that come across as draconian. More on this in coming weeks. Meanwhile, if Lenny screens whoever tries to make way to his chair, imagine what his customers – regulators – do with their clients, the regulated. So spare a thought for us bankers, it's the price of staying safe in a tricky world.

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