Howard Lutnick Comments: Dialing For Dollars On Wall Street
September 12, 2012, The Wall Street Journal
Since 2005, BGC Partners and Cantor Fitzgerald have hosted an Annual Charity Day in all of its world-wide offices to recognize the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Celebrities from all walks of life come in to meet the traders and help them complete trades. One hundred percent of the revenues, which last year amounted to approximately $12 million, with the largest trade completed by Prince Harry in the company's London office, go to a large number of charities. This year, said Howard Lutnick, the company's CEO, "we're hoping to make more."
"This is such a difficult day in the office," explained Mr. Lutnick, who lost 658 employees in the attacks. "We wanted to turn it into a positive reason to get out of bed."
For the various personalities who lend a hand—ranging from movie stars like Edward Norton and Andrew Garfield to sports figures like Eli Manning to swimsuit models like Kate Upton—it's about "consummating the transaction," said Mr. Lutnick. The actual traders tell the celebrities exactly what it is they're supposed to say into the phone. Just their presence adds a certain energy and excitement.
"Lady Gaga was outrageous when she came in," recalled Mr. Lutnick. "She would sing a capella on the phone. The football quarterbacks do great, too."
"All of my trading experience is through acting in movies about bad traders," said Susan Sarandon, who appears in "Arbitrage," a movie about a bad trader played by Richard Gere coming out on Friday. "So it's nice to emphasize the good things traders are doing, too."
"You've got quite an operation here," former Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Mr. Lutnick, on the way from the trading floor.
Then the actress Carole Kane ("Annie Hall") approached Mr. Lutnick. "Did you have a good day?" he asked her.
"I'm very good at this," she responded. "I'm making you millions."
In a striking juxtaposition to the diminutive, squeaky-voiced actress, it was 50 Cent's turn to show the traders at the FX Liquidity and OTC Variance Swaps desks what he was made of.
"I'm a fast learner," said 50 Cent. "Show me one time and I'll go ahead and do it." He picked up the phone, and a trader told him exactly what to say. 50 Cent repeated it. "Well, that's easy," 50 Cent said, when he hung up the phone.
"I could do this for a living!" he told anyone who would listen. "Somebody's just got to tell me the numbers."