Hall of Fame 10 - Thomas Hanley

Thomas Hanley’s rise on Wall Street shows that it helps to be both lucky and smart. In 1967, after graduating summa cum laude with a BS in finance from New York’s Fordham University, Hanley went to work at Chemical Bank as a junior aerospace analyst. His second day on the job, Chemical’s senior banking analyst quit, and Hanley took over coverage of the major banks, insurers and financial services firms. In 1969, Hanley left Chemical to join investment bank Salomon Brothers, where he remained for the next 23 years. He made his first appearance on the All-America Research Team in 1977, as a runner-up in Banks; five years later he was No. 1, a title he would claim 14 times.

Clients valued Hanley’s worldly perspective; he was early to start global coverage of the banking sector. He was also quick to envisage the breakdown of U.S. interstate banking barriers during the 1990s. And few analysts had as deep an understanding of the companies he covered and the people who ran them as Hanley.

“One of the things I did that was a little bit different, I got to know the management of banks very well,” says Hanley, 67. “I grew up with them. When you are doing this for 40 years or something, you are going to meet a lot of people, and I stay in touch with them.”

Hanley left Salomon in 1992 for CS First Boston, taking his four-member team with him. In March 1996 they decamped for UBS Securities, the U.S. investment banking subsidiary of the big Swiss bank. Hanley retired in 2001, at the age of 57, after undergoing quadruple heart bypass surgery.

With respect to the current state of the financial services industry, the 2008 crisis was one of the largest he has ever known, but “three years later, U.S. banks appear to be very viable,” Hanley says. “The new element in the equation is what happens in Europe.” He expects there will be a complete restructuring, with consequences for banking in Europe and the U.S.

Lifelong New Yorkers, Hanley and his wife sold their Manhattan apartment at the start of this year and moved to a historic townhouse in Charleston, South Carolina. “I’m really happy here,” he says. “I worked hard in school, I worked hard at my job, and now I am working hard having fun.”

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