CEO Chat: James Cahill, Drexel Hamilton
There is no great love that a man can have for another than to lay down his life.
And that is what combat veterans do each and every day in service and it’s time for Wall Street to show these courageous men and women some love, according to James Cahill, chief executive officer of Drexel Hamilton, a veteran-owned full-service institutional broker-dealer that’s founded on the principle of offering meaningful employment opportunities to disabled veterans.
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“It like I’m Father Flanagan and this is my Boys Town,” he said, referring to the famous orphanage founded by Catholic priest Edward Flanagan in 1917 in Omaha, Nebraska. “All these veterans want is a chance to work and add value to their lives, their families and to our clients. All they want is jobs.”
In a firm that began with just 14 people, now Cahill has 109 employees, 42 of whom are veterans across all service branches, 20 of whom are disabled. Also, Drexel Hamilton has graduated 30 of its employees “alumni” who have moved onto the buy-side and other areas.
“I want to help them,” Cahill said of his veterans. “We want to add value – especially where computers cannot.”
Drexel Hamilton places former soldiers right alongside veteran Wall Street traders – a veteran with a veteran – as Cahill tells it. And right in the trading trenches – baptism by fire. Veterans can learn myriad facets of the trading business, as Cahill will rotate veterans from the equities trading desk, to fixed income, to his IPO group, capital markets or syndication.
“All my veterans are trained to add value understand their business and their client. Anything other than that is not going to work,” Cahill said. “And they want to.”
The veteran has the utmost value, Cahill continued. Whether they served in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines and the case around veterans has two sides as he tells it. First, there is the charity side – raising monies to help soldiers, especially disabled ones, get the physical items they need to survive. This can be vans, prosthesis or other items needed.
The second side, and this is where Cahill sees his mission, to help returning wounded veterans get meaningful employment up to their capabilities. And for many soldiers, the sky is the limit. Cahill proudly points to his staff – medics, pilots, special forces operatives, snipers, ammunition specialists and others – all who want to work.
“These people want their dignity and we will help them,” Cahill said. “They are humble and have these abilities and talents that are not taught in textbooks. I’m blessed to have Wall Street veterans paired with these people.”
“We help them get their licenses and pay them,” Cahill said. For six years, Cahill has been doing this and he will continue. As his firm continues to grow, Cahill pledges to hire more and more veterans.
“I want more firms to do this, not just Drexel,” Cahill said. “There should be five or ten firms like ours. We just can’t hire them all. We welcome anyone who will help us. we should not fail these wounded kids.”