It is with a heavy heart I report that former Cargill Investor Services (CIS) executive Peter Wind has passed away at the age of 70. Peter was the chairman of the advisory committee for John J. Lothian & Company, a good friend and mentor to me and to many in the industry.
He died at home on Saturday after collapsing in the morning. He was at home at the time with his wife, Stephanie, who found him collapsed. She applied CPR and called for an ambulance, but he did not revive. He had not been ill.
Wind was an early supporter of what became the John Lothian Newsletter. It was Bernie Dan who relayed the news of Wind’s passing and it was Dan who first introduced my newsletter to Wind and fellow CIS executive Jan Waye. Wind and Waye both reached out to me after reading my newsletter for several weeks, inviting me to lunch. They wanted to know who I was, and why I knew so much about the industry and markets.
Wind became the prime salesman for JLN as he used my newsletter as a calling card. When he called on a prospect he would ask if they read JLN and if not, he said he would get them on the distribution list. At one time, I had over 200 CIS employees receiving JLN in the early days because of Peter’s pitching.
Wind became more than a supporter of JLN, he became a friend. He lived just a couple of towns south of me. He was a member of the same denomination of Christian church as me, the United Church of Christ. He had a summer home not too far from the spot in Michigan where my family went to church camp.
He was also an Eagle Scout and very supportive of my scouting efforts. He was a regular popcorn customer of my sons, preferring the unpopped popping corn.
Peter grew up in Kansas and would often share stories of his Scouting exploits, or other youthful experiences.
Wind loved to tell stories of his Cargill days. He had been highly developed as an executive by Cargill, who sent him to numerous executive programs over the years. He would often share the wisdom he learned from these educational experiences at some of the top U.S. universities with me and others whom he mentored.
He also had a very mischievous side to him. After the Peregrine Financial Group scandal in which Russell Wasendorf Sr. went away to jail, there was an auction for Wasendorf’s possessions and those of PFG. Wind knew that former Penson Worldwide Inc. chief risk officer and general counsel Carl Gilmore really wanted to buy Wasendorf’s golf clubs. Gilmore had been sued by Wasendorf over a business deal and held a grudge, even after winning the case.
Wind encouraged some colleagues to bid up the golf clubs in the online auction to make Gilmore pay up for them. (Sorry Carl.) The story can now come out.
Wind would describe Bernie Dan as his partner at Cargill for 20 years. However, Wind was at Cargill first. He told the story about how when CIS was looking to fill a position, it came down to Dan and an attractive woman. The attractive woman got the job, but Dan was hired a few months later when the woman went on maternity leave.
Wind would also tell the story about being given a check for $1 million and told to go over to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and buy some memberships so CIS could clear the CME. He was in his 20s at the time, so it was a big thing.
He also would tell the story of having to call and wake up the vice-chairman of Cargill at 2 a.m. because he had pledged over $30 million to make good on a margin call in Singapore. I believe this was in the middle of the Barings crisis.
When Wind retired from Cargill, after the presidency of CIS went to someone else after Dan had left to join the CBOT, Wind tried his hand at the hedge fund business. He had discovered two academics who were sisters, and brilliant, who had a stock trading strategy that looked great on paper. Wind backed them, but the real results were far from exceptional when actual trades were made.
Wind then invested in a firm that had been a client of CIS’s that was in the stock clearing business. Wind had wanted to buy it when he was a CIS, and when he was not allowed to, he saw his days were numbered there. The world was changing, and futures firms needed to be able to also offer equities to help meet the needs of the high-profile hedge fund customers and others who were CIS customers and needed to trade stocks.
Wind invested in Penson Worldwide. He then took a role with the firm as vice chairman. He helped them acquire Goldenberg Hehmeyer so that Penson would have futures clearing services to match their equity clearing. He was putting together the firm he wanted to at CIS in another way.
However, issues emerged at Penson that ultimately caused the firm to be sold. Peter cut his losses in the firm and exited his role. He was not happy about the experience.
Wind had even recruited his friend Dave Johnson, retired from Morgan Stanley, to the Penson board and his former Cargill partner Dan had joined the board for a while.
Dan would leave the Penson board and a little later get hired by MF Global as chief operating officer, working under Kevin Davis. When Davis was forced out because of big losses in an office in Memphis, Tennessee, Dan took over as MF Global’s CEO.
Once Dan got his footing as CEO, he realized he needed his wingman Peter Wind. MF Global hired Wind and signed him to a nice contract. However, for reasons that are still a mystery to me, Dan resigned shortly after Wind started.
Wind was stunned, he told me at the time. He was alone at the firm. And he was isolated by the new MF Global CEO Jon Corzine, whom he only met a couple of times when Wind was with MFG.
Since he had a contract, Wind honored it and did the work Corzine wanted him to do. But it was not very fulfilling and Wind spent a lot of time reading the newspapers.
While Wind was working for MF Global, he invited me to his office at 440 South LaSalle. It was the first time I had been in the Man/MF Global offices in 10 years. I had been banned by some small minded Man executives who took umbrage with a private critique of the firm’s preparations for single stock futures that was shared with them.
When Wind’s wife Stephanie was diagnosed with breast cancer, he resigned from MF Global immediately and took care of his wife. She successfully recovered.
Wind would also have his own scare with cancer, but of the skin variety.
Wind was a frequent golfer and spent lots of time in the sun chasing the little white ball around. He may have been the most popular last second fourth for foursomes in the industry. He kept his clubs in his car so he could play anytime.
As far as I know, Wind had successfully dealt with his skin cancer.
It was during this time that Wind wanted a place to hang his hat when he came downtown, so I gave him a desk in my office. We even decided to create an advisory committee for JJLCO and I asked Wind to chair it.
He was also pursuing an idea he had for SGX to open a U.S. office. He wanted them to hire him and he would help them grow their U.S. business and mentor some younger people to take over from him. In a role reversal, I introduced Wind to the then-CEO of SGX, Magnus Bocker.
The talks progressed but never resulted in a job offer. It would be several more years before SGX would open a U.S. office.
At the time, Wind would often come downtown to play handball or to attend CME Group disciplinary committee meetings, or attend an industry gathering.
Wind would regularly come into the office, though not every day. He would hang out for a while and chat with the team, read his newspaper and do a little trading.
Wind’s time in our office eventually diminished as he spent more time at his home in Michigan. He had come up with the idea to buy the house next door (a small cottage), knock it down and double the size of his house. He was envisioning lots of grandchildren staying at the home.
Peter is survived by his wife Stephanie and his three sons, Christian, Evan and Seth.
And he is survived by a bevy of former Cargill, CIS and Penson colleagues whose lives he touched with his intelligence, humor and skill.
He is also survived by the JLN team, past and present, that greatly valued his advice, counsel and humor.
He shall always live in our hearts.