Gold's plunge, the dearth of commodity deals, the impending cuts in bonuses – all were eclipsed Thursday night at least for a couple of hours as some of the biggest names in the Canadian securities business gathered to celebrate a new industry hall of fame.
The group of eight inductees included brokerage builders and industry legends such as Tony Fell, Lawrence Bloomberg and the late John MacNaughton, who, among other things, was the first head of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
The celebration drew a room full of boldface names to a Toronto ballroom, including the chief executive of Bank of Montreal, Bill Downe, and the co-chief executives of Royal Bank of Canada's securities unit, Doug McGregor and Mark Standish, to name a very few. The older generation of Bay Street was also very much in evidence, including Tom Kierans, who once ran what is now the investment banking division of Bank of Nova Scotia when it was an independent firm known as McLeod Young Weir.
The general consensus in the room was that the evening was a highlight of what has otherwise been a tough year for many firms. Table talk revolved around whom should be inducted next year, a good sign for the prospects of the dinner as an annual event.
The posthumous honorees were represented by family members. The four living inductees were on hand to accept their awards, giving acceptance speeches that hinted at why they were so successful in business. They showed men who were funny, humble, generous with praise, firm, and untroubled by such minor barriers in life as time limits. Nonetheless, the evening moved along crisply and wrapped up on time, something always appreciated in a business where morning meetings start early.