In Memoriam: Thomas Chrystie, Merrill Lynch Pioneer Who Alienated the Brokerage Units

January 20, 2014

By Peter Wissoker

Last week The New York Times ran an obituary for Thomas Chrystie, the person at Merrill Lynch who recognized the value of idea of a cash management account (C.M.A.) and sold it to Donald Regan, then the head of the firm (as written about in Joe Nocera’s book, A Piece of the Action, who used Chrystie as a source as well).

It is to be expected that Chrystie’s death would probably be of some interest to readers of this blog (as well as a reminder for those of us with an interest in the economic history of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s that we better do our interviewing sooner than later).  But it is the material at the end of the obituary that really lifts the piece from memorial to story, and serves as a timely reminder that the notion of a single organizational identity is highly suspect. It reads:

“Mr. Chrystie was involved in other Merrill Lynch initiatives, but the C.M.A. was what he was most widely known for in the financial world, though not always with unalloyed gratitude. At a company awards ceremony soon after it was introduced, Merrill’s brokers, mourning what they saw as lost future earnings, presented him, good-naturedly, with a gold-plated casting of a human (or possibly canine) dropping.”

Readers will be pleased to know that according to his family: “The trophy…remained one of Mr. Chrystie’s most prized possessions.”

Peter Wissoker is a PhD student in Regional and Urban Planning at Cornell University


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