Congratulations, Ira!

When SIFMA Executive Vice President and General Counsel Ira Hammerman announced his retirement at the end of 2022, we knew he needed a special send-off! Ira has served as our association’s lead lawyer for more than 18 years. On behalf of SIFMA and the SIFMA Compliance & Legal Society, please join us in wishing him well in his next, amazing chapter.

Congratulations, Ira! from SIFMA on Vimeo.

Reflections and Gratitude

Remarks by Ira Hammerman before the 2022 SIFMA C&L Annual Seminar

Thank you, Ken, for those kind and meaningful remarks. You have been our leader since 2013, and I have tremendously valued our friendship, continue to marvel at your command of so many substantive topics and issues, and have enjoyed our collaborations over these many years.

Folks, I have been at this a long, long time. Now I see some of you are skeptical as you see before you such a youthful-looking guy. But I’ve been serving this industry, first as outside counsel and then as SIFMA’s General Counsel, since 1983. And I have been attending this C&L Annual literally every year since 1987, when I was 26. That is 33 years in a row until COVID canceled the 2020 event. Those are some Cal Ripken attendance numbers I’ve put up on the board.

Well, as 2022 will be my last year at SIFMA, I wanted to use this occasion – in front of this audience that means so much to me – to say some public thank you’s. Now, I told the planning committee I would be brief, but if I go over time and they need to play walk-off music, I did ask that they play something from my favorite band, Green Day.

I believe I am the longest-serving General Counsel in the history of SIFMA and its predecessors, which date back to 1912. Believe me – it’s been a great ride! Representing our industry through the SIFMA platform has been the perfect job for me, and I have a lot of people to thank.

First are the various CEOs I have served, starting with Marc Lackritz who hired me, then a 43-year-old Clifford Chance partner, to join what was the Securities Industry Association (SIA).  Next, our members and the clients of SIFMA, without whom we would not be the industry’s leading trade association. Thank you for supporting us, for volunteering your time and expertise in our many areas of advocacy. And to our law firm colleagues, your associate membership in, and sponsorship of, SIFMA and the many ways in which you help us, year in and year out, with our industry advocacy has been most appreciated.  Our members of course also include the C&L Society’s Executive Committee and its Presidents — the ten of whom I’ve partnered with are so well known and accomplished they’re like one-named rock stars: DeMuro, Merolla, Dorfman, Turan, Guarneri, Plotkin, Bieler, Prince (no, not that rock star), Mandelbaum and Oroschakoff.  Thanks to each of you for teaching me and letting me be part of your successful tenures.

I would also like to recognize all my SIFMA colleagues that are deeply committed to you, our members. While there are many individuals at SIFMA that I’d like to publicly thank, time today does not permit so I’ll focus on my core OGC colleagues, each of whom I recruited to SIFMA, and I wanted to thank them for always making me look good.  Folks like Kevin Zambrowicz, whose 3 a.m. informative and value-added emails always start my days. To Kevin Carroll, my partner since 2007, who is so passionate about all that he does and a real class act.  To Bernard Canepa, who joined us from FINRA and has taken on literally every challenge I’ve thrown at him with professional expertise. And lastly, Melissa MacGregor who often reminds me that she’s known and worked for me over half her life going back to her Rogers & Wells days in 1998.

I’ve had the privilege to represent the industry at many meetings with regulators and legislators over these 18 years.  I’ve been in meetings with every SEC Chair going back to Bill Donaldson in 2004. I have also valued the close personal relationships I’ve built with the FINRA leadership over these many years and count each of them – Mary Schapiro, Rick Ketchum, and Robert Cook – as friends. Thanks to each of the regulators for always taking my calls, emails, and texts.  Even though we did not always agree, you always heard me out and I appreciated that.

In closing, I wanted to thank my family for all their support over these years and it seems fitting in this environment to start with my dad, Steve Hammerman. Now for the handful of you out there who may not know, Steve Hammerman is a living Wall Street legend. He was Merrill Lynch’s longtime General Counsel and ultimately Vice Chairman and served as this C&L Society’s President, was an Alfred Rauchmann Award recipient, and perhaps most importantly, teamed up with me in 1990 to become the only father-son duo to win the C&L Annual tennis tournament. I remind you of his impressive background to provide a little more context to explain how I clearly ended up going into the family business.  You see, when I was a teen, at the dinner table, I was exposed to stories about financial crises like WHOOPs, Baldwin United, the Hunt Brothers, Long Term Capital Management, and Orange County. The old-timers out there know what I’m talking about … anyone born after 1990 can simply Google it! And at that family dinner table, I heard, oh a few hundred times, my dad’s famous refrain:

No one’s bottom line is more important than the reputation of the firm.

1983 was not just the year I started at the law firm – it was also the year I married my best friend, Karen.  You’ve been my partner and clearly the better half of our team for the 43 years we’ve known each other.  Thanks for holding down the fort during my law firm years, being the bubbly personality at the endless conferences during my trade association years, and the best life partner anyone could have! I would also like to recognize and thank my three boys for being here with me to celebrate this milestone – Sam, Adam, and Jason.

I will certainly look back on my nearly 40 years as a securities lawyer and advocate for this great industry with fondness and pride. But later this year it will be time for me to pivot to the next phase of life. As many of you know, Park City, Utah has been my home base these past few years and there is a multitude of activities and charitable causes awaiting me there. So hit me up when you come out to beautiful Utah to ski, hike, bike, or just goof off.

Well, looks like I made it through before the walk-off music.  Thanks for listening, and I wish you all a fantastic conference.