The reason Cantor Fitzgerald’s chief executive Howard Lutnick didn’t perish during the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center is because of his son.
That Tuesday morning happened to be the day his five-year-old son Kyle started kindergarten. He and his wife both wanted to take him to his first day at Horace Mann School.
Lutnick was in his son’s classroom when he first heard news of the attacks that would forever change his life and his firm.
Cantor Fitzgerald occupied the 101st to the 105th floors of One World Trade Center — just above the impact zone of the hijacked plane.
Cantor Fitzgerald suffered the greatest loss of life of any company that day. The financial firm lost 658 of its 960 employees, almost two-thirds of its workforce.
What’s even more heartbreaking, Cantor Fitzgerald had a policy of hiring relatives, so those who lost someone at the firm likely lost more than one loved one.
Lutnick lost his brother.
Because the attacks had devastated Cantor Fitzgerald so badly, the firm was not expected to survive. Remarkably, within a week the firm managed to get its trading back online.
And Lutnick made a commitment to keep Cantor Fitzgerald going, despite the odds and the difficult choices that had to be made.
Lutnick made the controversial decision to cut off the paychecks to employees who were killed.
Instead he gave the victim’s families 25% of the firm’s profits for five years, and 10 years of health insurance.
Cantor Fitzgerald certainly suffered a tremendous loss, but it might also be one of the greatest comeback stories on Wall Street.
Today, Cantor Fitzgerald operates in its Midtown offices at 499 Park Avenue. The new offices are located on the second floor, hundreds of floors below the firm’s position in the World Trade Center.
You can watch one of Lutnick’s heartbreaking interviews right after the attacks below: See the other firms that lost people >
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.