August 6, 2015


How Jeb Bush Spent His Years on Wall Street : Former governor's time at Lehman and Barclays sets him apart from other presidential hopefuls (JUSTIN BAER, Aug. 4, 2015, WSJ)

Bankers and trading executives described Mr. Bush's contributions as "rich in content," which on Wall Street translates to having the kind of timely expertise that clients expect from top firms on topics essential to their investments.

"I spent a lot of time, I probably spent about 40% of my time working for Barclays," Mr. Bush told reporters in June. "I did a lot of their conferences where I spoke and I interacted with their clients."

Mr. Bush received a warm welcome on Wall Street, where financial firms often seek former political figures to help open doors. At least six firms offered Mr. Bush a position when he finished his second term as governor in January 2007, according to people familiar with the matter.

When he joined Lehman in June that year, Mr. Bush was the brother of a sitting U.S. president, George W. Bush, and already had ties with the investment bank, known for its scrappy culture and aggressive management team led by chief executive Richard Fuld, a longtime Democrat.

Mr. Bush would spend most of his time at Lehman working under Steve Lessing, who had been a "Ranger" for George W. Bush, a title for supporters who raised at least $200,000 for Mr. Bush's 2004 presidential campaign. Mr. Lessing headed client-relationship management and was the face of the firm to many money managers, hedge funds and insurance companies.

Mr. Bush soon drew the attention of Lehman's senior investment bankers, who looked for ways to put him in front of clients. He appeared at conferences for health-care clients and corporate directors, and joined a ski junket for bankers, people familiar with the matter said. He crisscrossed the country and flew commercial, often alone.

In late 2007, Lehman executives who spotted him striding past in midtown Manhattan-- BlackBerry pressed to his ear--said they recalled thinking that Mr. Bush, in a matter of months, had completed his transition from governor to harried bank executive. "This guy is the brother of the president, just walking by himself, no security," a former Lehman manager said.

Mr. Bush said he spent most of his time at Lehman "dealing with their customer base, providing insights in things like the madness of Washington, D.C."

More than a dozen of Mr. Bush's former colleagues and clients described him as focused, blunt and often opinionated. Unlike most former politicians in finance, Mr. Bush was seen as "commercial," almost a term of endearment on Wall Street meaning he understood how bankers prepared for meetings, advised clients and made money. He frequently reminded clients he was part of a team and ended meetings with a "thank you for letting us work for you," or a direct appeal to hire the bank, recalled one former Barclays banker.

Posted by at August 6, 2015 3:26 PM

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