Jeff Kidwell Repo Expert and Movie Buff Jeff Kidwell Repo Expert and Movie Buff
by Ari Schonbrun
Jeff Kidwell Repo Expert and Movie Buff
Jeff Kidwell a friend of mine and a former coworker at Canon Fitzgerald he is a leader in the repo and leading industry and has been since 1982. He has worked for several large companies including Morgan Stanley and Canon Fitzgerald. He has created his own peer-to-peer financing product, is the author of two books, and is a frequent public voice in the industry. He has continued to share his knowledge through his consulting business. Where he has created an 11-week course on repo fundamentals. In this interview, he shares with me some bricks that he has faced in his personal and professional life, how 9-11 affected him, how he learned to listen to the whispers and emphasize the positive things in life.
Ari: Welcome to whispers and bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun, and I’m your host. Today. I have a very good friend of mine who’s joining us. His name is Jeff Kidwell. Jeff and I actually worked together at Cantor Fitzgerald from 2004 to 2008. Let me tell you a little bit about Jeff. Jeff graduated with a BA from Cornell University in 1982. He’s been an active senior architect in the repo and securities lending industry ever since. From 1983. From 1982 to 2004, Jeff worked at Morgan Stanley, where he became the head of the North American repo desk and help build the business into one of the top repo desks on the street on the street. From 2004 to 2008, Jeff joined Cantor Fitzgerald and became the CO head of the global repo desk trading and sales and managing director. From 2008 to 2018. He joined AVM and was the founder and head of direct repo his over the counter peer to peer financing product. Jeff co author of two books and a frequent public voice for the industry. Jeff’s experience in the industry has continued in his Kidwell consultants business, Jeff has DisArt designed, written, narrated and video the accredited 11 week course on repo fundamentals. Throughout Jeff’s lengthy career he has been on several task forces for the Federal Reserve and sia as well as a member of the financing executive committee of SIFMA. Jeff currently writes a regular repo commentary that is distributed to over 5000 people in the repo and securities lending industry, including many state treasurer’s, the Federal Reserve, the ECB, and numerous corporate CFOs. When not speaking about repo trading repo or meeting with clients, Jeff also sings the national anthem for Major League Baseball games. He’s done that 154 times since 2003. And he has performed frequently in a professional five part harmony group called Generation gap, and professionally as an Elvis Presley Tribute Artists. Please help me welcome Jeff Kidwell. Hey, Jerry. Hey, Jeff, how you doing?
Ari: That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. It’s been a long time where you left Canon in 2008. I’ve been literally I haven’t seen you since then. It’s about what, 13 years or so. That’s right. That’s amazing. I got to tell you, you and I were part of a rare breed. You know, we each stayed with a company you with Morgan Stanley, and be at Cantor Fitzgerald for the for over 20 years. Right. You know, I mean, it’s just I guess we’re just masochists. Yeah, it’s life for us. Right? Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers and bricks, the whispers of those voices telling you what is the right thing to do and represents the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. Now it’s common knowledge that everybody in their lifetime at some point in time has at least one if not several bricks thrown at them. Now I’ve had bricks thrown at me, the biggest brick being 911. You on the other hand, on the surface, seem to have lived a charmed life. However, after a brief conversation that we’ve had before, I know that is not the case. Now what I would like to do is I’d like to ask you to please share with me in my audience, some of the bricks that you had thrown at you beaten your personal life or professional life. Would you do that, please?
Jeff: Sure In my personal life, many people don’t know this, actually. So a lot of people know that I was married. They don’t realize that I was married twice. And actually, between the marriages and the divorce processes, and one of them was a record long, 11 year divorce process in court. Many people don’t realize I was married for a total or engaged of 35 years. Both marriages obviously have ended. They were painful marriages and painful divorces, particularly divorces, first one took two years second one took 11 years.It turns out that my ex wives were a lot smarter than I realized, and in schemed the court system and figured out a way to fire lawyers. So it would start the whole process over again annually. But my you know, it’s interesting that you say that because I have a very dear friend who’s going through a divorce. And his hopefully soon to be ex wife is already on her fourth lawyer. So, you know, I don’t know, they fight, they hire them. They fire them and it starts all over again. And I know it’s tough. So man, I’m 11 years that must have been tough.
If the end, if the person doesn’t pay that lawyer after they fire them, then the lawyer won’t pass along the discovery and the production information and the files. So that all has to be started again. So you go through the depositions and the discovery, and that takes months, maybe a year. And then when all of a sudden a court date appears, then they fire the lawyer again. So it starts the whole thing again, it just snowballs. So yeah, that that was something that I think a lot of people may have heard a bit about, but didn’t know, you know, the extent of it. Wow. I know that. Probably a handful of people in the country know this part, which is that in 2006, I found my daughter. So I never had any children through these 35 years of marriage.But I’d had a child before I ever got married. In fact, the first girl I dated for two months,got pregnant and decided to move away, rather than marry me. And she put the child up for adoption. So I never got any information. I didn’t know how to find this child. But every April I thought about, you know, I have a child out there. And it really got to me after going through these two failed marriages, not able to see a child or not have a child. And so in 2006, through Catholic Charities, I found my daughter, and we had I mean, she called me the day after I called them. She called me on the cell phone as I was boarding a plane in West Palm Beach. And I said, Oh my God, I’ve been waiting for this call all my life. But can I call you back in two and a half hours? So when I landed in New York, I couldn’t call her we had a four hour conversation. She had no anger towards me. No. She didn’t make me feel guilty. She understood. Ironically, at 19 She had an abortion of a child. And ironically, her adoptive mother had
put up a child for adoption and then couldn’t have children. So it’s just a weird thing. Oh, age 19. So we had a great relationship. I was giving her away at her wedding. I met her fiance, who was whose name is Eli Whitney. And he’s a great grandson of No way. No way. Yeah, that gets even weirder. I won’t go too far into that. Wow.
Wow. Anyhow, we both were dressed Gothic when we had all in black with the with the chrome hearts logos and, and Celtic crosses and everything. Unfortunately, I think she got my looks. So she was kind of a big girl. And we had a great time. And so I was giving her away at her wedding. After I got my first Father’s Day card. And about five weeks after my first Father’s Day card, I got a call that she had died.
So she died of allergic reaction to Cipro, she just had a root canal and had an infection. And there was no one there because her fiance had just broken up with her a week before. So she was alone. So I had two years with her. The irony is that I’ve had a lot of accidents. And I know a lot of people know that. One of the breaks is I got hit by a car and and was badly injured. But I’ve had a lot of sports accidents and things like that. And I actually thought that because of my risky behavior, that she may never learn her medical history. So I wanted to get her her biological medical history. And in the end, it was switched around. It was actually so that I could have closure with her and she could have closure with me, because she was gonna pass on.
Ari: Wow, now. So talk about you know, the, the brick of the of the,
of the two divorces, and the you know, the woman who ran out, basically ran away with your child.
And then all sudden, like the whispers coming back where you get in touch with her and you know, like, a whisper of you need to go find her, you need to go find her thinking that that’s because I’m probably going to die. Give him my risky sports and injuries and all that. But in in the end, it was actually her. How old was she when she passed is 2828. And she wasn’t married?
Jeff:No. She wasn’t married.
Ari: Wow. Wow. Jeff, I am so sorry. That is his that is not something that I was expecting. I mean, I kind of knew about the about the divorce work, right? I didn’t know it was 11 years. But what 13 years all told, but but but I didn’t know about the about your daughter and how to
look, on the one hand. You had two years with her. Right?
Jeff: Correct. So God was smiling upon you at that point for those two years. And said Jeff isAre you something all right, here it is. And he gave you the two years with your daughter. But you also whispered to me, and said, Now do the right thing. So, being a professional singer, I actually sang at her funeral. So I sang four songs at her funeral. And I heard her voice because she was a professional singer. And we had all these things in common. Both English majors, both worked in the finance field, both sang the national anthem for the Red Sox, both professional singers. I mean, it’s just on and on and on.
So I sang at her funeral. And then at the reception, afterwards, I get to hear her CD. And I never heard her voice. And she sounded wonderful and beautiful. Um, two years after she passed, I got a letter in the mail from the mother of her former fiance, Eli’s mother, and it was written typewritten six pages, by my daughter of when she met me.
It was all about her feelings. And when she met me, beautifully written, like Hallmark movie, in fact, I took it to a music movie producer to see if they wanted to use the right. The see. I mean, it was it was perfectly written, wow. Wow, that was so well. So, so different from the depth. So, you know, so on the bright side, if you want to call it that, you’ve got the CD. So you’ll always have her voice. And you’ve got that letter that you’ll always have, that will, you know, that will basically, you know, give you that knowing what her feelings were right and always have that in, you know, written. I mean, that’s an incredible gift. It is okay, if you have to go through a tragedy that you went through.
This is this is definitely a gift from God, who said, I know I took your daughter, but it was, you know, I needed her here. Okay, but I’m going to leave you with something. So you should always have her. And that goes to. So the day I met her, she took the time and patience. Before she came down to Manhattan to create a photo album. Of all of her pictures for the 26 years I missed. And she captioned each one. This is my first birthday. This is my first Halloween. And it was wonderful, huge book, and there was an empty space on the cover. And her boyfriend had a fiance had a Polaroid camera. And he took two pictures of us gave one to her. And when I tucked into the empty space in front of and I still have that photo.
Ari: Wow. Wow. So all of this going on. And yet you still managed to keep up a career. That is an amazing career.
I mean, you’ve done so much in your life in the financial world. I remember going through your repo program at Cana, I remember that. That was really cool. And
the other thing that I found amazing. Alright, that it was not in your bio. Which which I didn’t read was most people don’t know. You are an avid movie buff.
Jeff: Oh, yes. Right. I remember movie theater practically. Yes, I remember.
Ari:You know, it was like, every every weekend, it would be every Monday, it would come out besides your repo report. There’s a Okay, and I saw a five movies over the course of the weekend. And let me give you my critique on the movies. But I and I’m gonna like when did this guy have the time he’s like, unbelievable, but I really loved that that was so close. So great.
Jeff: You know, it commentary is still set up like that, although I don’t see his movies, especially with the COVID pandemic. But back then I lived above the movie theater at 67th Street and Broadway. And I saw 100 movies do 120 movies a year. So um, yeah, I saw a lot of Oh, yeah, but the commentary still has the whole entertainment section. It’s got the Kardashians, it’s got all the sports and now I’ve amplified that and and put in the f1 racing and, and all that because there’s some IndyCar racing fans and NASCAR fans. So I put that all in the commentary too. So it’s still entertaining. That’s the that’s the idea and write a little bit of information. And then they want to come back and see it more. Correct.
Ari: Absolutely. Now I can well, those phone calls though, would take me 20 years to make the phone calls to all the people I know I got a contact list than 9000 people really so don’t forget when this comes out, you know, put it out to your 9000 People they got to listen to this podcast. I will you know now let me ask you this alright, knowing what I now know.
You must have gotten to a point that you were so low down you were so despised and that you probably said to yourself, you know that’s it, I’m done. I can’t do this anymore to happen my dreams that were the goals I’m having
In. All right, you must have? And if so, how did you? How did you manage to get through that? How did you get out of that? What did you do? How do you know? When did you talk to somebody? Did you seek counsel? Did you? You know, did you see it? Did you go to a priest? Did you go to a rabbi? Did you I mean, again, I don’t know what you are not. But hey,
Jeff:Um, I, I reached that point a few times. So it wasn’t only once actually, at the end of my or in the middle of my first divorce, which is probably about 1990 91. I sought counsel. So I had a psychotherapist and, and I get to share my thoughts. And it was very helpful. I think anybody going through a divorce probably should seek some kind of counseling, maybe with a priest or rabbi or whatever.
That helped me Then things got obviously worse over time. The bricks were bigger. They were kind of like cinder blocks after a while. And so at the end of 2007, when I left Cantor, I left Wall Street. I was done. I was just done. I was
discouraged. I was this is right. When I was separated from my second wife.
I was I was just, I couldn’t deal with all the politics and I couldn’t deal with all the
stuff going on. Plus, we were in the middle of a crisis, right? This is 2000 2007 2008. Yeah, right. Melaka hated 13 accounts. 13 of my chosen customers, unfortunately, were not meeting margin calls and had and, you know, collateral had to be liquidated. And I was in Howard’s office a lot going over strategies. And it just was so much. And we’re working on weekends, because there was it was such a crisis. I remember being there, the Columbus Day weekend, like the entire weekend.
And I had had enough, it had been a long time. And so I come down to Florida and I and I, I actually went to California met some clients. And they came to Florida where I had a vacation home, just to meet a few clients went to lunch with one client and they said, Oh my gosh, it’s like the Wall Street Kingpin. And you’re down in Florida now and you’re gonna stay in Florida, you have to come work for us. I had basically a month or two off and suddenly was back in again. It’s like, it was like Godfather Part Three, and they pull me back in.
I did another 10 years at IBM and and then after that, I still want to be part of this. So I’ve started this consulting firm, which has no politics, because it’s just me.
I hear I got away from the politics and and I can work on my own my own pace. And I’m in Florida. No complaints here. Everybody’s coming down all my all my friends from New York now moving.
Ari: Yeah. Do you remember?Was Craig Schneider there when you were there?
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. So funny. Yeah. He moved to Florida. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. He’s talked to me on Facebook a few times. Yeah. Yeah. He’s near me, too. Yeah. Wow. Wow. That’s that’s that’s totally amazing. You know, and what you need to adjust me through it, by the way. Oh, yes, please. Um, what got me through it was making myself busy. If I run, I don’t, I don’t let
despondency or depression or loneliness catch up to me.
It’s not necessarily the best advice to give people but I keep busy. I have constant to do lists. Everybody knows that. If they ever saw my trading desk, they so to do list, I have it down here. And I’m constantly crossing things off and adding new things. That work, Zack, yeah, so I just keep busy. Even in my, I don’t know if you’d call it semi retired state. I’m still actively working. But um, yeah, I made sure that I’m busy. I’m doing something productive. That’s, that’s great. You know,
the reason one of the reasons I do this is because I know in my audience, there are people that have gone through or are going through what you’ve gone through, and they can identify and that’s, that’s one of the reasons I’m here. That’s why the reason I do my podcast because I want people to understand that no matter what it is, they’re going through, somebody else has gone through the exact same thing. And they’ve gone through it pulled out of it, and you know, kept on going on and you know, continued on with life. And people need to hear that they need to hear these kinds of stories. So I want to thank you so much for being here and for sharing your story.
Ari: And it’s truly amazing. You’re an amazing individual. Jeff, I know you again, you know, a long time. So before we go, all right words of advice.some words of wisdom that you might have for my audience, whether it’s a template or something,
Jeff: please, I think these are age related. Okay, so I discovered at 40, that the world was moving too fast, and you need to slow it down. And at 50, I realized everything that I thought was important at 30, or 40 isn’t important at all, nothing of what you think is important in your 30s. And 40s is ever important in your 50s. And then in your 60s, I discovered, I just turned 60.
That nothing, if something is something you don’t want to do, or somebody wants you to do something, and you don’t think it’s right, you just don’t do it. It’s just, it’s it, you start crossing. If people are negative energy, you cross them off the list. If this is something you’ve never liked doing, don’t ever do it again. So you start removing the negative things from your life. emphasize the positive things. There you go. I’ve learned that over time, there you go. And that’s and that’s the whispers somebody tells you, you need to do this. You go no, I don’t. That’s the whispers that you know that you’re hearing that saying, Look, this is wrong. This is wrong. For me. This is not, you know, and you walk away. And that is, you know, it takes courage. It takes courage to do these things. All right, but at the end of the day, it’s all for the best.
Ari: Jeff, thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. I’m sure you’ve touched the hearts of many of my audience. Good luck going forward. You been listening to whispers in bricks and I’m your host, Gary showman. Until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.