10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jefferies Financial CEO Richard Handler

Richard Handler is the current CEO and Chairman of the Board for the Jefferies Group. He has earned the distinction of becoming the Wall Street CEO with the longest tenure. He’s had an interesting life and career that has led him to this point. If you’re not familiar with Rich Handler, here are 10 things that you didn’t know about him that will give you a more complete picture of who he is.

1. He’s a native of New Jersey

Rich Handler was raised in the state of New Jersey. As a teen, he attended the Pascack Hills High School located in Montvale, New Jersey. He graduated in 1979. He enrolled in the economics program and the University of Rochester where he earned his bachelors of arts in economics in 1983. He went on to pursue his MBA and graduated with this advanced degree from Stanford University in 1987.

2. He was working in finance before his graduation

Rich Handler is not one to let the grass grow under his feet. He’s constantly in motion and this is nothing new for the busy executive. Before he went to graduate school to earn his MBA, he took on a job at First Boston where he served as an investment banker. Next, he accepted a position at Drexel Burnham Lambert, working as a junk bond trader for Michael Milken.

3. He joined Jefferies in 1990 but not as CEO

When Richard Handler first started working for Jefferies he started out his career withi them as a trader and a salesman. It would not be until January of 2001 that he would be appointed as their CEO. It took him a little over a decade to work his way up to the position, but he was a hard worker, highly skilled in his craft and he showed the board what he was capable of during his tenure in sales and trading.

4. He made a positive impact at Jefferies that couldn’t be ignored

Prior to taking the helm at Jefferies, there were big changes at the company with Handler on board. In the era of 1990 through 2012 the company saw an annual change of shares compounding at a rate of 22%. While it takes a large team to make a company of this size run smoothly, Rich Handler definitely had an influence upon their success.

5. Richard Handler cares about education

Even though he’s a busy executive, Richard Handler makes sure that he offers advisement in areas where it is needed and valued. He cares about higher education and understands the value. He offers his advice and assistance to a variety of higher education institutions. He’s on the Stanford University School of Business Advisory Council and he is also on the University of Rochester’s Board of Trustees.

6. He’s an advocate for the underprivileged

Here is an interesting fact we learned about Richard Handler that many people are not aware of. He established the Jane and Alan Handler Scholarship Fund and named it in honor of his parents. Proceeds from this fund are designated to help finance the education for students who show exceptional talent and ability, but they must come from an underprivileged background while showing a potential for leadership. Mr. Handler has donated $25 million to the fund.

7. He’s also at the helm of the Handler Family Foundation

In addition to the scholarship fund named for his parents, Richard Handler has formed the Handler Family Foundation. He serves as the Chairman and the CEO of the Foundation. He’s also the Chairman of its Finance Committee. He’s a philanthropist who does what he can to help support the cause for higher education to glean the best leaders for the future.

8. He’s running two companies at one

Richard Handler is not only the Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Jefferies Group, He also serves as the director and CEO of Leucadia at the same time. In November of 2012, Leucadia and Jefferies formally announced their plans to merge the two companies. When the deal was completed in March of 2013, Jefferies became the CEO for both of them and it’s remained that way ever since.

9. He saved the Knight Capital Group

In August of 202, the Knight Capital Group suffered a tremendous loss because of a glitch in the technology. The loss amounted to $440 million and it was nearly catastrophic. Rich Handler joined forces with Brian Freedman and together they worked with their teams to develop a structure that would rescue the unfortunate company and Jefferies made an investment of $125 million which made them the largest shareholder.

10. His advice is valued globally

In 2012, then Chairman Brian Friedman worked with Handler to develop the Jefferies Global Senior Advisory Board. There are several big players from the industry on board and one of them is Jeff Handler. His advisement is something that is highly valued thanks to the decades of experience he’s had in the finance industry and his tenure as an executive leader on Wall Street.


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