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A Wall Street Insider Takes His Industry to Task

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John Taft’s voice was just starting to go hoarse when I interviewed him over breakfast in Manhattan last week. The chief executive of RBC Wealth Management-U.S. had been on the road plugging his new book about Wall Street, and it was apparently taking its toll; he actually cancelled several interviews later in the day. I got in under the wire, you might say.

John Taft

Stewardship—Lessons Learned from the Lost Culture of Wall Street, took about six months to write, Taft says. It’s a subject close to his heart, as my story on Registered Rep.’s homepage today notes. It’s not a jeremiad against high finance, but Taft doesn’t pull any punches either. Wall Street placed its interests ahead of investors, he says, and the country suffered as a result.

One of the reasons he wrote the book was to restore confidence in the industry, he says, “but actually it goes beyond that. The whole notion that we have a responsibility to others, not just leaders of financial institutions, not just leaders of society, but all of us. We need to do a better job of behaving like stewards in our daily lives. It was the financial crisis that woke me to that message, and I wrote the book to make that point for others.”

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