Twenty years represents a great deal of change for Wall Street, and the world in general.

As we chronicle the evolution of retail brokerage, specifically for those advisors in the employee channel representing wirehouse and regional firms, we see an industry adapting to rapid changes and taking advantage of unprecedented opportunities.

In this month's 20th anniversary issue, I've invited the leaders of some of the largest wealth management companies to share their perspectives on the last 20 years and what they believe is next to come.

That said, I'd like to take you on a short journey through some of the more memorable moments of the last 20 years. This certainly isn't a complete list, but I wanted to point out some of the events and people that have influenced the country and even the world. In 1991, On Wall Street published its first issue and United Nations forces attacked Iraq. The following year, the now-deceased mob boss John Gotti was convicted of a laundry list of offenses too numerous to mention, and Hurricane Andrew hit Florida.

In 1993, On Wall Street had a then-smiling Bernie Madoff on one of our covers. That same year, our country experienced the Waco tragedy and the first World Trade Center bombing. The following year was extremely unforgettable one: O.J. Simpson fell from grace — suspected of killing his ex-wife and her friend, and kept us mesmerized with the slow car chase. The Oklahoma City homegrown terrorist bombings marked 1995; and, we got the saying: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," from the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial that stopped the nation when his acquittal was announced.

In 1996, the fairy-tale came to an end when Princess Diana and Prince Charles split. And in 1997, tragedy struck again for the Royals, as we lost Princess Diana to a car crash in Paris, and mourned with England and the rest of the world. The scandal involving former president Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky dominated the headlines in 1998. And in 1999, the Columbine High School shooting tragedy rocked the American psyche. When the new century arrived, we discovered that we had survived the Y2K scare, but couldn't decide whether Al Gore or George W. Bush was president. After the uproar over voting in Florida, Bush was declared the victor.

But perhaps the most defining moment for the nation in the last two decades came, of course, on Sept. 11, 2001. The planes that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon left nearly 3,000 Americans dead.

In 2002, we invaded Iraq, and the following year, Saddam Hussein was captured. Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, and in 2006, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death and executed.

In 2007, we saw the beginning of the mortgage crisis and mourned the victims of the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech.

However, 2008 was singularly busy, especially for this industry. It was the year of the financial meltdown that would draw comparisons to the Great Depression; the collapse of the storied Lehman Brothers; and Bank of America buying Merrill Lynch. It was also the year of a particularly historic first — Barack Obama was elected as the first African-American president. In 2009, we lost entertainers Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett on the same day; and financier Bernie Madoff pled guilty to 11 federal felonies. Last year, we saw an earthquake rip Haiti apart, and the BP oil spill poison our Gulf waters.

So far in 2011, an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan; billionaire hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam was convicted in one of the biggest insider trading cases in U.S. history; and of course, Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was killed by a special Navy SEAL team.

Through the years, as technology advanced, natural disasters took their toll, economic cycles gave us booms and busts, and the people across the world became more interconnected, On Wall Street has continued to move forward.

In fact, it is our mission at On Wall Street to continue to grow and change along with our industry, the people in it and the world in general. So, thank you for sharing the ride with us.

 

Frances A. McMorris