Former Head of Securities Lending • State Street & Chairman • EquiLend •
State Street’s securities lending arm can attribute its growth over two decades from the minor leagues to the majors to many factors. But perhaps no single player was as important as ralph Vitale. Vitale, who worked at State Street for more than 17 years after spending a decade on the brokerage side with Burgess & Leith, grew the firm’s securities lending business to become a huge source of revenue and one of the biggest agency players in securities lending.
“When I started in securities lending in 1987, what there was of it was small,” Vitale says. “What was so much fun was that, while State Street had a rapidly growing franchise in custody, the securities lending market was untapped. It was a tremendous growth opportunity within a well-run company. And opportunities like that don’t come along that often.”
He also served as the founding chairman of the board of EquiLend, the securities lending platform backed by State Street and other leading banks, in 2001. “Ralph was the visionary behind EquiLend-at a time when State Street and the large custodians dominated the lending industry. It was his sense of stewardship toward the industry that inspired the vision to create what he hoped would become an industry utility,” says Christine Donovan, now head of securities lending at BBH, but 20 years ago the second person Ralph Vitale hired into the non-dollar equity lending group at state street.
“EquiLend has done pretty well,” Vitale says, adding that he stays “pretty plugged in” to the industry. “It was a step that was not greeted with great interest from the brokerage side. I was off with my timing-I thought EquiLend would have evolved into an exchange-like utility by now. It will be interesting to see how the consortium members respond to the recent central counterparty challenges being launched.”
When State Street acquired Deutsche Bank’s custody business in 2002, Vitale was, naturally, placed at the helm. But a year later he left just as the integration was nearing completion, telling Global Custodian at the time that he didn’t want to “do a Michael Jordan and stay on too long.” But, like Jordan in the basketball hall of fame, his legacy in securities lending was already secure, and Vitale now spends his time on other passions: part-owner of a fly fishing shop and spending time with his 9-year-old daughter.