April 2020

Even With Heartbreaking Loss, Springtime Can Bring Green Shoots of Optimism

Dear Jefferies Clients and Friends,

We hope you, your family and your colleagues are healthy and managing through this crisis as safely and effectively as possible.  As you know, this week the coronavirus caused us to lose our friend and partner, Peg Broadbent, who served as CFO of Jefferies Group since 2007.  We mourn his passing and will carry his memory forever into the future.  We owe it to Peg’s legacy and to each other to stay strong and to persevere through this difficult time. 

Peg loved Jefferies and was incredibly proud of how our firm always rallied together in times of adversity to fight for the collective benefit of our clients and each other.  With Peg in mind, we wrote the note below to our almost 4,000 Jefferies employee-partners to allow all of us to begin to find the positives that can come from this awful tragedy.   We are a long way from healing and there are many challenges ahead for all of us, but hopefully these thoughts will help your team and ours put perspective to our challenges and provide some further motivation for us all to get to the other side together.

Please stay healthy and safe,

Rich and Brian

 

RICH HANDLER
CEO, Jefferies Financial Group
1.212.284.2555

rhandler@jefferies.com
@handlerrich Twitter | Instagram
BRIAN FRIEDMAN
President, Jefferies Financial Group
1.212.284.1701

bfriedman@jefferies.com
 

 

Dear Jefferies Partners,

The tragedy of what happened to our friend, Peg Broadbent, puts in perspective the daily upheaval and personal challenges that each of us now face.   Peg will be sorely missed and we will celebrate his life as soon as the world steadies and we can all be together again.  For the sake of his memory and the passion he had for Jefferies and all of us, together we will push forward to serve our clients and continue to build our firm. 

For each of us, the days are turning into weeks which will eventually turn into months and hopefully no more than a quarter or perhaps two.  Today is April 1st and we are in the early days of one of our nicest seasons, spring.  With the blessing of Peg’s memory and a will for all of us to find the path forward, we would like to share with you a few positive observations of what will hopefully emerge from the pain and misfortune we and the world are experiencing.  It is most important in times of great distress to appreciate what we all have and realize that the seasons will keep turning and together we will continue to grow and evolve.  Here is the beginning of a list of positive thoughts stemming from this virus that hopefully we can all build upon:

  1. Priorities:  How many times have people paid lip service to the trite phrase, “if you have your health, you have everything?”  Well, because of the scope, severity, contagiousness and swiftness of this illness, we now know the true meaning of these words.  The Coronavirus is reshaping the way we think about our health, the health of our families, including our extended Jefferies family, and the health of the communities in which we live and work.  The Coronavirus disaster is not fully reflected in stock indices.   It is reflected in the ever-growing list of souls who are contracting the virus and the effect it has on their loved ones.  Material wealth is meaningless without sound physical health.  The coronavirus is sweeping throughout the world and reminding us that if you or your loved ones are not healthy, there is no happiness.
  2. Clarity:  Relationships are only proven and truly appreciated in bad times.  Success, fame and wealth attract a bevy of admirers eager to squeeze into the bright spotlight so they can share the good times.  Uncertainty, hardship and duress attract a different type of person who helps ease the pain, not because they have to, but because they want to.  True friends show their heart at these difficult times and are there to provide direct assistance, empathy, moral support or whatever is needed.  It’s amazing how many enjoy the happy-time spotlight, and how few will be with you to help you through the lonely darkness.  Today is a perfect day to begin prioritizing the people most important to you and those to whom you truly matter.  It’s also no coincidence that the people who are always there for many in tough times are the ones blessed with an army of their own true supporters when the chips are down.  We count all of you as important to us and as the folks who have been there for us and each other from well before the beginning of this pandemic.  That is why it is so easy and important for us to be there for each of you now.
  3. Fragility:  In the course of mere weeks, healthy people have become seriously ill, fearless people have become incredibly frightened, wealthy people have become less wealthy, strong businesses have been brought to their knees and invincible societies have become hugely vulnerable.  Facing fragility and mortality causes us to value, respect and enjoy everything we have ever had and the preciousness of life.  Envy, greed and other similar byproducts of a long bull market can now be replaced with a great appreciation of how fortunate so many of us are already with all that we currently possess.
  4. Hygiene:   We have truly taken this one for granted in the developed world and this experience had better serve as a reminder that we need to improve conditions globally, if not because it is the right thing to do for all people, which we believe firmly, but also because health-wise we now know we are truly one.  There is no doubt that people will remember this experience for a very long time, and the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness” will never again have to be explained.  
  5. Oneness:  This is the most difficult one and our perspective may raise some controversy.  Coronavirus brings to the fore the question of whether the world is going to work together or continue to retreat from connection.  In the age of pandemic, global coordination, communication and trust are the best path to assuring our world survives.  Each country and continent is currently fighting their own fights independently, as people tend to do in the heat of the moment and when life or death decisions are happening in real time.  However, to avoid or minimize the risks in the future, global policies and means of coordination must be implemented for the benefit of the collective world.  Accurate Information must be transparently shared on a real-time basis.  Therapy and vaccine development will require the collective brainpower and large data capabilities of the world.  Positive breakthroughs must be quickly shared globally, as we know that if one region is sick and the rest of the world is healthy, it will not remain that way for long.  Countries will need to be able to act to protect their own people, but if the world doesn’t come together as well, nobody will be truly safe.  Sometimes it takes a pandemic to realize that the world united will stand and a world divided could fall. 

We have suffered a tremendous loss and nothing will make this better.  It is highly possible that there will be even more pain to be felt by the Jefferies family, as we are large, global and heavily engaged with society.  Our grieving period has just started and it is complicated by the fact that we are all working continuously in a manner different than ever before.  None of this seems to make sense.  All we are asking is that while we grieve, let’s allow ourselves the opportunity to embrace Spring and enjoy a small taste of the renewed freshness and optimism it always brings.   We can do this while we prioritize our families, friends, clients and each other at Jefferies.   Also, let’s make sure we go the extra mile for all of those who have been the most harmed by this disease, as well as the amazing people in the medical and related professions who are truly risking it all on our behalf every single day.  

With sadness today and optimism for the future,

Rich and Brian