Despite the tough environment for fundraising, Wall Street employees are still finding ways to give back to their communities. Tonight, mortgage traders and other fixed income professionals who play in Wall Street bands are hoping to have fun and raise a ton of money.On Thursday, Oct. 29, Refi Rock, a financial services fundraising organization, is holding a Halloween party from 7:00pm-to-11:00 pm at Terminal 5, one of the largest music clubs in Manhattan, to raise money for cystic fibrosis. The Halloween bash will feature several Wall Street bands include Yellowman, Slippery When Wet and 2U - named after the famous U2. A member of Yellowman is a friend of Bryce Ryness, the lead singer in the Broadway Musical Hair, who is taking the night off to sing at the charity event.
I spoke with Russell Middleton, a mortgage trader at JP Morgan who is the founder of Refi Rock, the organization that has raised money for the past six years. "We're trying to put the fun back into fund raising," says Middleton who was trading mortgages at 4:30 pm the other day when he was interviewed. He keeps the ticket price low at $40. 'We'll have bands that consist of peers who work on Wall Street," says Middleton. Middletown says there have been about 36 bands in all that have participated in the fundraisers. This year, Refi Rock is raising money for the Boomer Esiason Foundation named after the NFL quarterback for the Jets and Bengals, who learned in 1993 that his son Gunnar suffered from the disease and set up the foundation to find a cure for the disease. Esiason will be at the event, acting as MC.
Last year, Ref Rock held the event at BB King's Blues Club in Times Square and raised over $75,000. In July, Refi Rock held an event onboard the USS Intrepid, as Middleton wanted to hold a party there after it was recently reopened.
Several employees from Guggenheim Financial are members of Yellowman. John Ou, who is a mortgage trader at Guggenheim Financial, has played in several Refi Rock events since 2007. The model was battle of the bands, where the audience voted by buying shares in the bands, and the band with the most shares sold, won. This time the goal is to raise over $100,000, he says. Ou says he's played at about three events so far, but expects tonight's party to be a big event since Terminal 5 is the biggest music club in Manhattan outside of Madison Square Garden.
Some of the Wall Street bands have played at other charitable events. A Leg to Stand On (ALTSO), a charity that runs a Wall Street band competition, held its sixth annual Hedge Fund Rocktoberfest on October 16th. Its band members work in the hedge fund and finance industry. ALTSO improves the lives of children with limb disabilities in emerging countries, including India, Columbia, Bangladesh and Belize, by providing free surgeries and prosthetic limbs. Supporters of the charity include: Lazard Asset Management, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and Jacobs Asset Management, LLC.
While the press has had a field day with Wall Street for its role in the credit crisis -and it bares some responsibility, says Ou - there's another side that doesn't make the headlines. "Wall Street has always been a huge giver to charity. I wouldn't be surprised that there isn't a monthly event where Wall Street isn't directly involved," he says. A lot of people are involved with non-profits. It's kind of a culture that people don't speak about on Wall Street," says Ou.Tonight, mortgage traders and other fixed income professionals who play in Wall Street bands are hoping to have fun and raise a ton of money. Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio