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In Conversation with Peter Cohen and Bob Pisani

Gabelli100 | May 10, 2021 |

As former chair and CEO of investment banks Cowen Inc. and Shearson Lehman, Peter Cohen’s career spans five decades in which he saw technology change the financial landscape through digitization, contracted the merger that resulted in the powerhouse Shearson Lehman American Express, and survived waves of financial emergencies, including the savings and loan crisis of the 1990s.

In a Gabelli School Virtual Centennial Speaker Series event sponsored by the Gabelli Center for Global Security Analysis, the CFA Society New York, and the Museum of American Finance, Cohen shared highlights of his storied career and his passion for financial history. He was joined by CNBC Senior Markets Correspondent Bob Pisani.

Cohen, now chair and CEO of Andover National Corporation, also considered today’s financial services industry and how it differs from the past. Modern brokerage firms like Robinhood are attracting new investors every year, but compared to other established firms, Cohen sees how their disorganization can lead to disaster.

“Robinhood is not the same as interactive brokers or [Charles] Schwab, Fidelity Investments, or TD Waterhouse,” he said. “Those are great utilities, brilliantly created, to allow people to access the markets in a very orderly way. I think Robinhood got out of control and wasn’t structured for what eventually happened with GameStop. It’s about understanding your business at the micro level, what can happen, and being prepared for it.”

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