Special Award: Michael T. Porter For his contribution to the Closed-End Fund Industry
Thank you, Michael, for your very kind words. I am deeply and sincerely grateful to you, Nicolas and my friends at Capital Link for your and their consideration, courtesy and thoughtfulness in presenting me with this gorgeous plaque, especially in the presence of my Wife Prudence and my Mother, and amongst so many friends.
This recognition carries tremendous meaning because, as we can see around us, there are scores of bright, persevering, and diligent professionals in the closed-end funds industry. These range from lawyers, consultants, stock exchange officials and fund sponsors to investment bankers, research analysts and mutual funds reporters. During my 13 plus years as a country funds analyst, I benefited from their efforts, and the industry benefited from their efforts. Most importantly, individual and institutional investors benefited from their efforts, with more and better products available, as well as broader and more comprehensive research and media coverage.
I started my Wall Street career in 1987 at Drexel Burnham Lambert as a European Banking Analyst. In 1988, my boss Alan Benasuli correctly foresaw the vast retail and institutional appeal of country funds, and encouraged me to build a research product designed to capitalize on it. The product was an instant success. In 1989, when Sandy Weil hired Alan to become Smith Barney's director of research, I was his first or second hire, just in time for the breathtaking country funds boom that swept across America and saw these funds jump to the top of the stock charts. Alan is in the audience; I would like to ask him to stand so that we can acknowledge his role.
Yet other individuals had a hand in altering the odds for me, including Michael Lipper, Alex Zagoreos, Don Cassidy, Thomas Herzfeld, and the late George Foot. Within Salomon Smith Barney, my close friend Joseph Murphy always devised brilliant ways to market the country funds.
Therefore, with respect, I acknowledge and share this honor with the many professionals in-- and outside this room with whom I have enjoyed associations over the years.
In March of 1990, Smith Barney hosted the first of 11 annual conferences that brought together country fund managers and retail and institutional investors. Many of these conferences were held in this ballroom. As I look back, the country funds conference was perhaps my major contribution to the closed-end funds industry. A secondary contribution was arguably the introduction in 1997 of a research product devoted to a set of exchange- traded index funds then known as WEBS - a first on the Street. Then, as today, these country index funds managed to find a place in our conferences. I will always recall the many exciting investment ideas that were generated at past conferences, the many friendships formed, and the happy experiences enjoyed.
And it is for these reasons, and for your thoughtfulness and kindness, that I thank you for this honor today.