Don't confuse Sandy Weill for those Wall Street execs who fret over "optics."
In a melancholy NYT profile of Sandy Weill over the weekend, the former CEO and chair of Citigroup admitted to some errors of management during his tenure at the mega-bank, but spurned claims that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act -- which erased key banking regulations after heavy lobbying by Weill -- was to blame for Citi's woes.
In fact, as the NYT points out, Weill is still so staunchly in favor of the repeal that he displays a wooden trophy of sorts in his office. (In the banking equivalent of a stuffed lion's head mounted on the wall, the plaque reads "Shatterer Of Glass-Steagall.") And, appearances be damned, Weil apparently was not compelled to take this gloating piece of memorabilia down before being visited by a reporter.
Glass-Steagall -- the legislation that required commercial and investment banking institutions to remain separate -- was the key piece of legislation that helped Citigroup morph into the banking behemoth it has become. By extension, it helped Weill's net worth skyrocket.
Weill said that Citigroup's failure makes him "incredibly sad," but Citi executives have declined his offers to help rebuild the company. Here's the NYT:
Starting in late 2007, he began approaching some members of Citi's board about returning to help with its recovery. He tried first when the board was looking to replace Mr. Prince as C.E.O., and later after Vikram Pandit got the job. At the time, Mr. Weill imagined that he would be welcomed. "I had 50 years of experience," he says. "I think I was a pretty good student of the markets, and the business. I had a good feel of things. I felt that just because I retired didn't mean my brain went to mush. Maybe I could help...
The rejection stung. Citigroup had for so long been central to his life. It was hard to accept that he had no control or influence over it anymore. "It's very hurtful. Even though he says, 'No, no, it's fine,' "says Joan Weill, his wife of 54 years. "I know him. The company means so much to him. It was his baby."