In Memoriam: CFA Institute Systemic Risk Council Mourns Passing of Founding Member William H. Donaldson, CFA

It is with enormous sadness that members of the CFA Institute Systemic Risk Council have learned that Bill Donaldson has passed away at age 93.

His contributions to the world of finance, education, and public service are an amazing testament to a life well lived. His many pursuits included service as the 27th Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Undersecretary of State under Secretary Henry Kissinger.  Bill also served as Chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange and Chairman and CEO of Aetna Insurance Inc.

In 1959, Donaldson, along with Richard Jenrette and Dan Lufkin, founded Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ). Its businesses included a range of investment, research, and brokerage services and grew quickly, becoming one of the top investment-banking firms globally. At its peak, DLJ employed over ten thousand professionals and was acquired by Credit Suisse for a reported $11.5 billion.

Bill was also generous in his service to many philanthropic, arts, and educational institutions, among them the Ford Foundation, CFA Institute, and Lincoln Center for Performing Arts.  Bill was perhaps most proud of his educational contributions as founding Dean of the Yale School of Management and service to his country as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps early in his career.

Even with these monumental demands, Bill continued to focus on life-long learning and mentoring others on market integrity and public service.  Among such activities, he partnered with Sheila Bair and Ira Millstein as a motivating force in the creation of the CFA Institute Systemic Risk Council.  His investment, regulatory, and securities exchange background was a key addition to our Council, which was created as a private-sector, non-partisan body of former government officials and financial and legal experts committed to addressing gaps in systemic regulation.   Many of these gaps were identified during the Great Financial Crisis and follow-on debates leading to enactment of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform Act.  Donaldson’s involvement brought weight and profile to this mission and to the commentary of the Council.

In a joint statement, Simon Johnson and Erkki Liikanen, Co-chairs of the SRC said,    “Few people have made such an enduring contribution to the evolving landscape of markets, based on firm advocacy for regulation that advances market integrity, safety, and soundness.  Bill was one-of-a-kind in his sweeping career, and it was a great privilege to serve with him on the Council.”

Sheila Bair, Founding Chair and Senior Advisor to SRC, added  “I knew and worked with Bill when he chaired the NYSE and the SEC.  He exhibited excellence and integrity in both private and public service. To have Bill’s wisdom and backing in the creation of the Systemic Risk Council was a blessing. If more financial regulators and Wall Street executives had followed his good example, we never would have had the Great Financial Crisis.”

All of us at the Council and CFA Institute offer our deepest condolences to Bill’s family.