We couldn’t be more thankful to have had a dynamic leader like Clay at the helm for the past eight years. At the end of November Clay will retire as we welcome his successor Anthony DeChellis. We sat down with Clay and asked a few questions as he reflects on his time as CEO.
Do you have a favorite Boston Private memory?
When I first became chief executive of our company in 2010, I met a very unhappy shareholder who had been hurt in the financial crisis. I tried to explain my thoughts on our company, and the goals I had for Boston Private.
About a week later, this person sent me a bright blue Superman t-shirt with a note that said, “If you can achieve even half of what you have outlined, you will be Superman. Be a Superman!”
I keep the t-shirt in a prominent place on a table in my office. It reminds me every day that I have to perform. Happily, we have long since met or exceeded the goals I shared with that unhappy investor back in 2010, and he ultimately became a friend.
When it comes to Boston Private, what are you most proud of?
During the depths of the financial crisis, we took a company with a lot of challenges and strengthened it on almost every dimension.
Today, Boston Private is a healthy, financially strong, independent financial institution with great clients and extremely talented employees. The company is well-run, and is a very solid business model upon which to build. I trust that the company will continue to do good things.
Here at Boston Private, we talk a lot about understanding our clients’ “Whys of Wealth” – what motivates them, why their wealth matters to them in the first place. What is your Why of Wealth?
Wealth creation has never been the primary motive for me. It has been the derivative of a very satisfying professional life, which allowed me to influence a number of businesses and careers. The real thing that drives me is working with talented people to build something special. Years ago, one of my then-young daughters was asked by a grade school teacher, “what does your daddy do?” She proudly told the class, “My Dad talks on the phone a lot and helps people do their job better.” I will accept that as a pretty good description of what I’ve enjoyed doing.
Each client’s wealth creation journey is endlessly fascinating to me. We have more than 20,000 wealth-creating clients, each with a unique story and a unique set of motives, so the “Why” of Wealth is hard to generalize. Most of our clients marry imagination, hard work and extraordinary persistence; many have overcome periods of great adversity. It’s all very inspiring.
What are you most looking forward to doing in retirement?
I have been working various jobs since age 12. I started my professional career in 1977. I have had the satisfaction of building and improving McKinsey & Company (30 years), and then Boston Private (almost 9 years). I wanted to end my career trying to be an effective chief executive.
I now look forward to trying to be a good husband, father and grandfather.