John E. Herzog, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of The Museum of American Finance will discuss his book, A Billion to One: The Story of Herzog, Heine, Geduld, Inc., the history of the legendary Wall Street firm his family founded.
Herzog’s route to building a securities trading behemoth started modestly, when his grandfather, walking the teeming streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, began trading currencies. His father, Robert, joined these walks and learned how to earn a modest “spread” changing notes and handling remittances for newly-arrived emigres.
Robert apprenticed at a bank where his aptitude for figures and entrepreneurial yearnings led him to abandon a dependable $50 monthly wage for his first partnership. Rapid changes made him a sole proprietor very quickly, beginning a struggle just to stay in business. The family firm had survived more than prospered in 1959, when John accepted his father’s invitation to join the four others on the staff of Herzog & Co. Opportunity was elusive as he struggled to find business and develop a specialty. On a typical day, the firm made only four or five trades.
John’s most significant deal was convincing two similarly-principled brothers to put their doughnut business on hold to develop their trading careers at Herzog & Co. The very talented Irwin and Buzzy Geduld worked with John to build a company with the ability and culture ideally suited to an expanding national trading opportunity. With a long list of company shareholders, the exquisitely timed sale of Herzog, Heine, Geduld to Merrill Lynch in 2000 provided the ultimate reward.
This intimate memoir would be more believable had it not happened on Wall Street. It’s an unconventional story about integrity, not greed, where wrongs are quickly righted and fairness is never mistaken for generosity. For Herzog, the reward is sharing success with all who made it possible, and his story tells us how that happened.
Kirkus Reviews said A Billion to One is “an expert insider’s account of the securities industry that should interest active investors… The author’s insights into the industry itself are trenchant, and especially welcome in the wake of another seismic change in the regulatory landscape.”
Bio: John Herzog spent his active business career at Herzog Heine Geduld, Inc., which was founded in 1926 by his father. He joined the firm in 1959 and spearheaded its expansion into the third-largest NASDAQ market maker in the country. He retired from the firm as Chairman Emeritus when Merrill Lynch acquired the firm in 2000. This story is told in the book “A Billion to One” published by the Museum of American Finance on June 27, 2017.
Mr. Herzog is formerly Chairman of R.M. Smythe & Co., Inc., one of the world’s premier auction houses, specializing in antique stocks and bonds, banknotes, coins, autographs and photographs. In 1988, Mr. Herzog founded the Museum of American Finance, donating part of his extensive collection of financial memorabilia to the Museum. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. A graduate of Cornell and New York University Stern School, he is a former member of the NYU Stern School Board of Overseers; president of the Board of the Fairfield Museum, and a member of the American Antiquarian Society, Grolier Club, Down Town Association and the Union League Club in New York. He is Honorary Chair of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, and member of the board of the Pequot Library, Southport, CT.
Mr. Herzog is also a Trustee Emeritus of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg, VA, and was a member of the board of regents of Long Island College Hospital. He is a holder of the Ellis Island Medal.
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