Wall Street Leaders Welcome Openly Gay CEO of U.S. Bank

Top Wall Street executives voiced support for C1 Financial Inc. Chief Executive Officer Trevor Burgess, who yesterday became the first openly gay CEO of a bank traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

C1 Financial, based in St. Petersburg, Florida, priced its $44.7 million initial public offering this week. The firm was created in 2009 when Burgess, a former Morgan Stanley investment banker, and three other investors took over the Community Bank of Manatee, ultimately acquiring other lenders in the state.

“Leaders who feel comfortable being open about their sexual orientation are more productive and engaged, which directly impacts the success of their organizations,” Irene Dorner, CEO of HSBC USA, a unit of HSBC Holdings Plc, said in a statement. “Sincere congratulations to Trevor on leading the way with this IPO.”

Wall Street firms seeking to recruit the best talent have hosted conferences for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the industry, while enacting non-discrimination policies and providing health-care benefits for same-sex partners. Industry leaders including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein have spoken on the topic and supported gay marriage.

‘Case Study’

“Deutsche Bank is proud to offer our congratulations to Trevor Burgess for his courage and authenticity,” Jacques Brand, CEO of North America for the Frankfurt-based lender, said in the statement. “We know that the ability to be oneself at work is fundamentally important to individual and organizational success.”

C1 Financial had $12 million of net income last year, and $13.1 million in 2012, according to a prospectus for the IPO. The lender’s assets have quintupled from the end of 2010 to $1.45 billion at the end of June. Burgess and three other people still hold a majority of the bank’s stock. The IPO priced at $17. The shares were unchanged at yesterday’s close of trading.

It’s particularly meaningful that Burgess has been openly gay throughout his career and found success, said Todd Sears, founder of Out Leadership. The organization hosts Out on the Street conferences and yesterday praised Burgess as the first openly gay CEO of an NYSE-listed bank. Shares held by his husband, Gary Hess, are mentioned in the bank’s prospectus, just as they would be with other CEOs’ spouses, Sears said.

“It’s kind of exciting, the normalcy with which he’s handled all of this,” Sears said in a telephone interview. “It’s an interesting case study in that it is historic and also mundane at the same time.”

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