Michael D. Robbins
The late Michael D. Robbins was a New York Stock Exchange broker and member who worked on Wall Street for 50 years. He died on September 13, 2014 at the age of 80.
Robbins retired from the stock exchange in 2007, after selling the brokerage firm he founded, Robbins & Henderson LLC, to Van der Moolen. In 2011 he became a contributor to Bloomberg News. He portrayed his role with Bloomberg as a "provider of historical perspective on the finance industry."
Robbins was a member of the board of trustees of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, serving the two three year term limits from 2006 - 2012.
He was elected to the board of directors of the NYSE in 1992 and served through 1998.
Robbins was inspired to seek a career in the financial markets by his parents, who would buy stocks in small amounts in the 1930s when they had excess funds to invest. Robbins spoke of his history on Wall Street in an interview on Bloomberg Radio's "Taking Stock" program.
After graduating from Princeton University in 1955, Robbins joined Eastman Dillon as a trainee for a job paying $250 per month. In 1958, expecting to make $20,000, Robbins performance netted him $100,000 in compensation. He moved from trainee to salesman to analyst with the firm.
In 1962, Robbins bought a membership on the New York Stock Exchange for $120,000 with his own money following a dip in prices for exchange seats following a dip in the stock market following President John F. Kennedy's showdown with the steel industry.
Robbins owned one of 1366 seats on the exchange and was one of three owners of his seat during the last century. He traced his seat's lineage back to Harold Higgins, who bought the seat in 1933. Higgins had bought the seat from Ralph Ranlet, who had purchased it in 1907.
Robbins was on the NYSE trading floor in 1962 for the culmination of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. He described in the Bloomberg Radio interview the panic buying that followed the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis as his first experience with panic in the markets, panic to the upside.
In 1978, after four years as a partner at Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, Robbins left to become a specialist on the floor. It was, by his admission, not a good fit, and in 1980 he left to start his own independent brokerage. He founded Robbins & Henderson LLC, a New York Stock Exchange brokerage firm with fellow member Christopher Henderson. Robbins served as chairman of the firm.
In 1986, he fought the NYSE establishment for the right, as an independent broker, to use a telephone on the trading floor. At that time, the privilege was reserved for member firms.
During his time as a member of the exchange, Robbins served as a floor official and Floor Governor of the NYSE. He was president of the Alliance of Floor Brokers for over 10 years. He also served as a member of the NYSE Market Performance Committee, the Market Regulation Review Committee, the Allocation Committee and the Security and Safety Committee.
Robbins is a 1955 graduate of Princeton University. His classmates included Ralph Nader.
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