Greg Fleming, who was the chief operating officer and co-president of Merrill Lynch, left shortly after the firm was acquired by Bank of America. His last year there was controversy, as mounting lossess and management changes—the ouster of CEO Stan O’Neal and his replacement by John Thain—through the company into turmoil.
So where is he now? He’s landed on Wall Street—in New Haven. The Yale Law School is located on New Haven’s Wall Street, where Fleming is teaching a seminar at the school’s corporate law centre on the financial meltdown. His high profile guest lecturers this semester have included include James P. Gorman, co-president of Morgan Stanley, Charles R. Kaye, co-president of private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC and Daniel L. Doctoroff, president of Bloomberg LP.
Fleming doesn’t seem to be in a contrite mood. In an interview with the Connecticut Law Tribune, he seemed to pin the blame for Merrill’s collapse on others at the firm—specifically those in trading.
Fleming’s role in Merrill Lynch’s investment bank was separate from the trading side that gambled with ill-fated mortgages. His approach was to form close relationships with CEOs and CFOs of companies to understand their business and provide investment counsel. “I developed quality relationships through deals that I counseled clients not to do,” Fleming said.
As he progressed toward higher-ranking management positions, Fleming became more involved with the direction of Merrill Lynch, especially in his final years with the company.
“I’m proud of the years I spent at Merrill Lynch. I have many great colleagues who are building careers at the new company,” Fleming said. “I look back and feel good about a lot of what we collectively created over many years. If I could change anything, I would go back and push even harder with some of my own views when there were disagreements with others,” though he declined to elaborate.
Besides a reformatted company, the constant grind of Wall Street also caught up with Fleming, he said, and precipitated a career change. “It was 18 hours a day plus many hours on the weekend,” he noted. “It was virtually impossible to unplug.”
With children ages 8 to 12, his seminar at Yale will provide him more time at home in Westchester County and allow him to take on a different profession that has significant ties to his family—his mother, father and brother are all current or retired teachers.
While the agreement to teach at Yale is open-ended, Fleming has discovered a natural connection to teaching that he believes could lead to more opportunities in the future, even if he returns to the financial world.
“There’s a real sense of accomplishment for me in this,” said Fleming.•
There’s no mention of the fate of Fleming’s subpoena from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo about bonuses at the firm or Bank of America’s attempt to prevent him from testifying.