Wall Street investment bankers know how to follow the market.
While their ranks were being decimated by layoffs in recent years, many went to work for Uncle Cam, managing the assets of the hundreds of thrifts seized by the government.
Now, employed by the Resolution Trust Corp. and the Office of Thrift Supervision, these people are securitizing seized thrift assets or packaging securities for sale on the Street. What's more, some are bringing an element of pizzazz to a normally quiet bureaucratic environment.
Following are profiles of seven ex-Wall Streeters who are now in Uncle Sam's employ.
Saves RTC Cash
Eric Alini finishes your sentences for you. He's impatient and intense. He takes it as a compliment if you guess that he's from New York, which takes no great feat of insight.
After a decade of working in New York's financial district, Eric Alini took a job with the Resolution Trust Corp. in Washington. Now, the 30-year-old characterizes his post as "the best job on Wall street."
As the RTC's top securities trader, Mr. Alini is responsible for selling the RTC's securities, the paper taken over from failed savings and loans. He helps decide when to sell, what the price should be, and which offers to accept.
Although his paychecks are about ont-third smaller than the ones he earned in New York, Mr. Alini finds his new job rewarding.
For example, he beams as he boasts about doing the largest mortgage residual deal ever -- worth $100 million, double the size of the next biggest.
Mr. Alini yanked a deal being offered by the RTC because the bids were too low. He then remarketed the deal, which was for $200 million in junior securities backed by mobile-home loans.
"I fought tooth and nail to get it done, and it got done," he said proudly. "I saved the government $60 million."
Mr. Alini has applied his cost-cutting savvy to other aspects of his new job, as well.
For wxample, everyone in the capital markets division was going to get an individual office: 30-plus rooms costing about $320,000 to build. Mr. Alini told the facilities manager that the traders needed to be in an open room so they could talk to each other.
At Mr. Alini's urging, the RTC was finally persuaded to buy its trading desks from a defunct brokerage firm. The tab: $92,000.
A Love Affair
Lisa Spector went to Harvard to get her master's degree in business administration, and fell in love.
"I fell in love with finance," she recalled. "On the first day of class, the professor gave us a test to see what we knew, and of course, I flunked it because I didn't know a balance sheet from a rock."
But the subject so engrossed her that she ended the semester with the highest grade in her clas.
That passion for finance detoured Ms. Spector to Wall Street from a planned return to her hometown of Washington for a government job.
But after 15 years of investment banking, mostly with Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York, Ms. Spector did return home. hired as the RTC's director of capital markets in the fall of 1989, she is the agency's highest-ranking recruit from Wall Street.
"It really is Wall Street in Washington," Ms. Spector said. "It's where the action is. We have an enormous amount of responsibility, but it is very intellectually challenging."
"It's exhausting, and it takes its toll," she said.
How long can she last?
"I promised I would stay for two years, and two years is almost up," she answered. "We'll see. I don't know how much longer I will stay."
But she is not going back to Wall Street. Instead, she may accept an offer she had while at the RTC to become chief financial officer of a financial institution.
Ms. Spector, 44, said she did not inted to end up at the thrift bailout agency. "How I came down here is a total fluke - an absolute accident," she said.
Aclient told her that the RTC was looking for investment bankers. Although her initial reaction was negative, she looked into the job while in Washington on family-relted business. Within two weeks, she had taken the post.
"I think now that we have the policies and procedures basically in place things are a lot easier," she said. "We've gotten an enormous amount accomplished. We're proud of it."
The capital market divisions has sold $30.1 billion in assets, of which $21 billion are mortgage-backed securities and $4.4 billion are junk bonds.
While overseeing the division, Ms. Spector said, she is focusing on negotiating deals to sell assets such as junk bonds.
The RTC "dominates so many of the markets that we are in," she said - such as junk bonds, interest rate swaps, and residuals - that Wall Street wants the agency to do its job right.
"If we do things wrong, that hurts their market, so in fact, they want us to do well," she said. "They are helping us, but they are also following the rules."
Ms. Spector got her first job on Wall Street in 1975 with White, Weld, a small firm specializing in creative finance. It was acquired by Merrill Lynch in 1978. Ms. Spector worked a dozen years for Merrill.
At the start, she was Merrill's internal investment banker, a post in which she placed the company's first public debt.
"I developed a strategy for getting Merrill into the markets," Ms. Spector said. "For a while, we had the best rates of any financial institution in the world."
Around 1985, Ms. Specotr went back to serving outside clients, including Morgan Guaranty, Bankers Trust, Chase Manhattan, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
"I was given as potential clients the most capital-market-sensitve institutions," she said. "The World Bank and the Kingdom of Sweden were considered the most creative debt financing institutions in the world, and I was their banker."
Ken Bacon never intended to work on Wall Street. But now that he runs the Resolution Trust Corp.'s securitization shop, he's glad he did.
"I went to a party to get some free shrimp and a drink and met some people from Kidder [Peabody]," recalled Mr. Bacon.
The 6-foot, 5-inch, Mr. Bacon bested one of Kidder's big shots in an argument and landed a job. Then he found he liked investment bankers after all. He stayed on Wall Street for eight years: five with Kidder and three at Morgan, Stanley & Co., where he helped thrifts securitize their mortgages.
But Mr. Bacon, who has a master's degree in business administration from Harvard, had always wanted to work in government, so when give the chance to work in Washington, he jumped.
"It's still like a male club," he said. "The Treasury. The Fed. All these places. And I had a chance."
His first job in government was as director of policy at the RTC Oversight Board. But he got bored quickly.
So in February, Mr. Bacon jumped to the RTC, where there was plenty of dirt for hundreds of hands.
He securitizes assets seized from failed thrifts. Of the $160 billion in assets the RTC has seized, 25% are single-family mortgages. Unfortunately, they don't all conform to the secondary market standards of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) or Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac), so Mr. Bacon created what he called Ritzey Maes - the RTC's own securities.
The RTC securitized $2.5 billion worth of mortgages from June to August, spreading the business around Wall Street. (Each of the six deals to date has had a different lead underwriter).
An upcoming issue, underwritten by Goldman, Sachs & Co., takes mortgages from 83 thrifts that are being serviced by 20 companies.
"This is a mammoth undertaking," said Mr. Bacon, calmly. "Nobody has ever done this before."
But that's no big deal, because Mr. Bacon has big goals. "We hope to do our first commercial mortgage transaction sometime late this quarter [or] early next quarter," he said last month.
Mr. Bacon likes everything about his job but the pays. At the RTC, he earns less than half of what he made on Wall Street.
"For me, I think [this job has] been great. I've gotten a chance to build something, to manage something, to make a difference, to stretch out," he said. "There is only one thing wrong. I ain't making no money."
When Japanese investors reacted coolly to a debt offering by Hershey Co., Gerri Rigby sent them samples of the "Great American Chocolate Bar."
Ms. Rigby, the RTC's deputy director of capital markets, knew that her potential buyers just needed to know what she was selling. She also knew the Japanese liked candy and buying brand names.
The 15-yer Merrill Lynch & Co. veteran is bringing that sales
Ms. Rigby understand her customers - brokers on the Steeet - because she used to be one. She knows what they expect and how they do business.
The 39-year-old spent her entire Wall Street career with Merrill Lynch, working in its New York, Tokyo, and London offices. Basically, Ms. Rigby brought investors together to buy debt. She has priced and sold everything from zero-coupon bonds to interest rate swaps.
She quit Merrill in February 1989. "I was beat," she said, recalling her decision to take a year off. She traveled the East Coast states and then bought a house on the ocean in the New Jersey town where she grew up.
In December 1989, a former Merrill colleague, Lisa Spector, called to ask her to join the RTC's capital markets division. Ms. Rigby declined becasue she was having too much fun fixing up her new home and did not want to move to Washington.
Ms. Spector called again in January with a compromise: Ms. Rigby could come to work at the RTC as a part-time consultant. Ms. Rigby agreed to drive down for a day to get a feel for the job.
"One phone call, and it was back in my blood," she said. She passed over the offer to be a part-timer and instead took the full-time job originally offered.
The job "was too big to do part-time," she explained. "The only way I know how to do things is 120%."
Ms. Rigby is blunt; she bowls you over with her confidence and energy. She drinks caffeine-free diet Coke, bites her nails, and is trying to quit smoking.
Ms. Rigby said that she let Wall Street brokers know that they could not outwit RTC.
"When I came in, I said: 'Hey guys we're one of you. We've got a huge responsibility here, but there is no need for you guys to think you're going to pull any wool over anybody's eyes.'"
Unlike others at the RTC, Ms. Rigby is not worried about being criticized. "I'm not afraid to show anybody what we're doing here," she said.
Nevertheless, Ms. Rigby plans to leave the agency by March. She wants to return to investment banking on Wall Street.
One big reason she cited is the success she had there.
"I had great rapport with the people I interacted with. There was a whole network of salesmen who trusted me," she said.
Mark P. Hurley has packed a lot into his 33 years: West Point and five years in the Army, a master's degree in business administration from Stanford, 3 1/2 years with Goldman, Sachs & Co., and now, a top job at the Office of Thrift Supervision.
As the OTS director of resolutions, he is helping to make decsions that affect every insured financial institution in the country.
While usually free-speaking and confident, Mr. Hurley can sometimes seem innocent and awed.
"We're worrying about billions of dollars here," he said. "Especially to someone who had only 3 1/2 years experience - it was a tremendous opportunity."
Mr. Hurley is one of two investment bankers who joined the OTS after Tim Ryan took over in April 1990. The other is David Kelso, who oversees the agency's dealings with the Resolution Trust Corp.
Out of graudate school, Mr. Hurley took a bond sales job with Goldman Sachs in Dallas. But his clients, ailing banks and thrifts, didn't need to buy bonds: They needed to be bailed out.
So Mr. Hurley spent 3 1/2 years working with the government to recapitalize the Southwest's financial institutions. And then one day, Mr. Ryan called, asking Mr. Hurley to move to Washington as his special assistant. Mr. Hurley hesitated but took the job, and he hasn't looked back.
Mr. Hurley recalls with enthusiasm working on the Landmark transaction - sale of $750 million worth of golf courses and resort hotels owned by struggling Oak Tree Savings to a consortium headed by Dai-chi Kangyo Bank.
"That was the second-or third-largest real estate deal in history," Mr. Hurley said. "You'd have to be a partner at Goldman Sachs" to get that kind of responsibility.
"At Goldman Sachs, I might see five to 10 interesting deals a year," he continued. "I see that daily here."
For example, when the Rhode Island private deposit insurance crisis broke last January, Mr. Ryan asked Mr. Hurley to go to Providence. His task: to assess the situation, report back to Mr. Ryan, and recommend action.
Is on the Record
Ann Richards writes down what she does every day in 150-sheet notebooks. She has filled six books, or 900 pages, since going to work for the Resolution Trust Corp. 16 months ago. And she writes small.
She keeps track of her daily actions - especially the whens, hows, and whys - just in case anyone, like Congress, asks.
Mr. Richards is an assistant director in RTC's capital markets division. She is responsible for selling assets plucked from failed thrifts' portfolios. So far, she has focused on junk bonds.
Ms. Richards, noted for her engaging smile, seems the calming antidote to her division's other top staffers: hard-driving Deputy Director Gerri Rigby and intense sales manager Eric Alini. The three run the day-to-day operations of the division, under Director Lisa Spector.
"Between Gerri, Eric and me, there is hardly a product that the three of us haven't touched at some point," the 43-year-old Ms. Richards said. "We know how to seek help because we have such a string of contacts."
Ms. Richards has logged more time on Wall Street than any of her top counterparts in the capital markets division. She worked for Merrill Lynch & Co. from the time of he college graduation in 1970 until 1985.
During her tenure at Merrill, she worked on pricing and marketing the corporate bond issues managed by the company, selling commercial paper to new clients, especially interntaional banks, and working in the company's international corporate finance department.
She left Merrill in 1985 for E.F. Hutton, where she managed the brokered deposits program until late 1987 when the company merged with Shearson Lehman Brothers.
Like a lot of Hutton employees, Ms. Richards got the boot after the merger.
But within a week, she was working at Thomas McKinnon, where she set up and then managed a brokered deposits program.
Now, she works for the RTC, where she sold $3 billion in junk bonds this year, mainly in the first quarter when junk prices were rising. "We sold into a tremendous rally," she explained. "But I know someday I will be questioned about it."
The second-guessing the agency endures "does make one a little cautious," she said, adding, "Usually, I don't have time to be afraid."
And she keeps those notebooks up to date, just in case. In her first six months with the agency, she filled 10 pages a day.
Ms. Richards said she enjoys her job because of the diversity it offers.
"No day is like the day before," she said. "Where could you go at this stage in life and still learn every day?"
Thrives at OTS
David A. Kelso, associate director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, said he spends most of his time trying to help government and Wall Street understand each other.
"The Street is discovering that it has a lot at stake down there," he explained. "I think often my role is being a translator and that works both ways:" OTS to Wall Street and the Street to the regulatory agency.
Mr. Kelso oversees the agency's accelerated resolution program, which aims to market and sell sick thrifts before the government is forced to seize them.
ARP was touted as a way to save a lot of money because a thrift's franchise value would be retained through early sale. But with just about 15 thrifts sold through the program, so far, it has not lived up to expectations.
Mr. Kelso explained that the agency had to focus on the worst thrifts first. "We had the problem of having to work off prior inventory," he said.
A year ago, he recalled, people said accelerated resolutions would be impossible to achieve. But now, 30 of the 94 thrifts in the agency's worst category, Group IV, are in ARP.
"There will be a lot more done before the end of the year," Mr. Kelso promised.
Mr. Kelso, 44, began working at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the summer of 1976. He ran the firm's special investments section from 1983 on, developing nontraditional investments such as the Nikkei put warrant in early 1990. That security bet the Japanese stock market would go down. It did. Issued at $2.50 to $5, the warrants today trade at $20 to $30.
He also raised $263 million in three private placements from February 1988 through November 1989 to help Deposit Guaranty Bank make acquisitions, including the takeover of Texas American Bancshares in Fort Worth, Tex.
"It was unusual - selling interest in a Texas banking institution in the late 1980s [when banks] weren't in favor and neither was Texas," said Ronald G. Steinhart, chairman and chief executive of the merged banks, now called Team Bank. "So it was challenging and Dave did an excellent job."
"That was my first real direct exposure to the problems of commercial banks and thrifts," Mr. Kelso said.
Now, he said, he likes working for the government.
"Occasionally, at Goldman Sachs, the 'in' box was empty," Mr. Kelso said. "Here, it's never empty. It's much more demanding, absorbing place. The scope of the problems is larger, and there is just no end."
But he admitted that it was an adjustment getting used to being attacked all the time. "People certainly feel comfortable complaining and criticizing the work we do," he said. "You have to develop a thick skin to work here."
"I was used to rather short decision-making chains and ones that were largely internal," he said. "It's just a much more complex and subtle process" in government.