The Municipal Forum of New York Tuesday night hosted its 19th annual awards dinner to honor three members of the municipal bond industry: New York City Comptroller William Thompson, long-time municipal banker Samuel Ramirez, and Wisconsin capital finance director Frank Hoadley, who was awarded the forum's lifetime achievement award.
The forum granted Ramirez, founder and president of Ramirez & Co., its private-sector honor, the Austin V. Koenen award for his work in the municipal industry. Ramirez began his investment banking firm in 1971 and expressed his respect for the municipal market and its participants during his acceptance speech.
"Receiving an award for something you love doing is a moving experience. I have to confess I'm deeply touched this evening," Ramirez said before an audience of more than 400 municipal bankers, issuers, credit analysts, and bond lawyers. "I imagine my feelings are very much similar to many of you sitting here - gratitude for working in an industry that values integrity and ethics, appreciation for having so many colleagues who are friends, and satisfaction for working in a field that does make a difference."
Thompson, whom the forum honored with its public service award, also talked about the industry's distinction among other financial trades and thanked the muni community for helping to bring New York City back from 10 consecutive quarters of economic recession after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and for helping the city achieve a general obligation upgrade from all three credit agencies to double-A.
"I always thought that municipal finance was the one area of the securities industry where finance professionals could use their imagination and expertise to directly serve our communities," Thompson said.
Hoadley graciously accepted his lifetime achievement award in a speech that combined a humorous top 10 list of personal self-disclosure along with his apprehensions about certain practices in the municipal market.
"My worry closet is first of all what I see as a shrinking municipal bond industry. I'm very, very worried about that tonight," he said. "I'm also worried about the shrinking capacity for credit analysis because I think that in more and more of this industry, the investors are looking to shortcuts to credit analysis that are ultimately harming this industry."