Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Chair and CEO on Rebuilding From Tragedy of 9/11

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," September 11, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Five years ago today, of course, the markets could never open, five years after, the Dow finishing the day up about five points. The Nasdaq was up about seven and change. And the S&P 500 was up just a fraction.

Well, he lost 67 workers at his firm on 9/11, 67 of them, including — get this — his own 23-year-old son. But, instead of giving up, he built his business back up.

Earlier, I spoke with John Duffy, the chairman and the CEO of investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

I asked him, first off, how his day and this day affects him and his family.


JOHN DUFFY, CEO, KEEFE, BRUYETTE & WOODS: You relive the horror of that day. I haven't gone to any of the movies that have been released lately. I'm not sure I ever will. I don't think I need to. Lived the experience, you know, too close, so, I — I don't need to relive it.

But, yes, as we come up on the anniversary each year, there — there are constant reminders. But, in a — in a certain aspect, I don't mind that, in that because I think it's important for to us remember what happened that day, and it's especially remember for us at the firm that people not forget the 67 people that we lost, and the — the 3,000 people that were murdered that day.

CAVUTO: A lot of people are not familiar with your story, John. Did you hear from your son Christopher earlier that day, or did he call or communicate with your family that day?

DUFFY: I called the office after I heard the news report of the plane hitting the first tower. And I wound up talking to one of my assistants.

I didn't talk to Christopher. The first plane hit the north tower. Our folks were, obviously, in the south tower. So, we had no idea about what was going to happen 16 or 17 minutes later. I didn't feel the urgency to call him. I tried to call him after the second plane hit. I was unable to get through.

He had — he did talk with his younger brother Kevin, who's a student up Saint Michaels in Vermont. And they were — they were able to establish contact with each other. So, Kevin's actually the last one who talked to Christopher.

And that — that — the conversation took place shortly after the plane — second plane had hit the south tower.

CAVUTO: Can you share what he said?

DUFFY: Well, he said it was, you know, terribly frightening. They were trying to get out. Kevin speculated that they were actually in a stairwell at that point in time, trying to find a way out of the building.

And they eventually — you know, he stayed on the phone, but they eventually lost contact.

CAVUTO: You could have left it all. You could have retreated to any one of maybe a number of vacation homes, and rightly so. And you could have wallowed in self-pity — again, rightly so.

You didn't. Why not?

DUFFY: I don't think that would have been the right thing to do. I don't think I would have felt good about doing that.

I think we felt an obligation of sorts to the families who lost their breadwinner that morning.

CAVUTO: You lost your son. I mean, that's tough enough. I know you are trying to think of other people, but you are feeling their pain. You have it in bucket loads.

DUFFY: Well, yes.

I mean, I — I did not come back to work for a little bit more than two weeks. Andy Senchak and Tom Senchak ran the firm...

CAVUTO: Right.

DUFFY: ... in that period of time initially decided to put it back together. I didn't go back to work until I felt mentally I was ready to do that.

I was dealing with my own personal loss and grief for the first couple of weeks. After we had a memorial service for Chris, the second Saturday after 9/11, I kind of felt that there had been a little bit of closure, and that I needed to do something a little bit more positive than — than wallow in self-pity.

CAVUTO: It was no accident that Wall Street was targeted by the terrorists five years ago. Do you think it could happen again?

DUFFY: Absolutely.

CAVUTO: Boy, you didn't give that a — a moment of equivocation.

DUFFY: I think we would be fools to think it can't happen again. We probably thought it couldn't happen five years ago, but we learned we were wrong. And I think to take any false sense of security in that we are better off today I think is a mistake.

CAVUTO: For you, looking back five years, what's the one thing you have learned?

DUFFY: Don't procrastinate. You don't know how much time you have personally. You don't know how much time you have, you know, kind of a business aspect. I think, when you are faced with an opportunity or a challenge or a problem, you better resolve it today, or as quickly as you can, because you may not be here tomorrow.

CAVUTO: Someone told me, like, you are into all sorts of weird stuff now. You're financing a Canadian rock band.

You are practicing what you preach, I guess. But some people think you are going off your rocker.


CAVUTO: What's going on here?

DUFFY: I'm having some fun. I think it's part of — part of maybe how my personality has changed a little bit, in that, you know, if there is something you think you might want to do, because it's fun, or rewarding, or whatever the aspect, do it.

And I have got into three venture in the last year. Two of them are in kind of the restaurant business. One of them is backing a food chain — a restaurant chain out in California. Another one is a more local cheesecake company. And then I found my way into backing a Canadian band. And — and it's a great story.

CAVUTO: Christopher would like, I think, the rock band.

DUFFY: Christopher would love it. In fact, we...


DUFFY: And, when we release the C.D., we are going to call it Duff Jam Productions. And Christopher was known for throwing parties that were known as Duff Jams.

CAVUTO: Right.

DUFFY: So, we have got a song coming out. It was inspired by my book "Triumph Over Tragedy." And listening to the C.D. now, I'm inspired every morning. I throw it in the C.D. player in the car, and I listen to it, and it inspires me. So, inspiration works in different ways.


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