It’s been one long year since the near collapse of our financial system and, if you’re anything like me, you’re still not completely sure what really happened. If you’re in or heading to the Big Apple and want to finally get a handle on what brought about the teetering of all things financial, check out The Wall Street Experience tours.
As a Wall Street insider and laid off, former Deutsche Bank V.P., Andrew Luan knows the collapse firsthand. Now he leads truth seekers through the canyons of downtown New York’s financial district, stopping outside J.P. Morgan & Company, Deutsche Bank, AIG, Goldman Sachs, the Bank of the United States, and the Federal Reserve while he explains the complex factors that led to the near collapse. He delves into CDOs (collateralized debt obligations; the type of asset-backed securities many blame for much of the debacle), securities, ratings, and provides tour-goers with an inside view of a trader’s life.
Tours start at 15 Broad Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange, and run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. The Wall Street Insiders Tour lasts two hours and costs $45 per person. On its website, the company mentions it can offer reduced rates for those who can’t afford full ticket price–a true indication that these are still tough times and that Luan really gets it. Check out a Q&A with him after the jump.
I live near Wall Street and work on Wall Street. So when friends visited me, it was natural for me to give them a tour of my neighborhood. They loved it. Some of them worked in the financial sector and were keen to hear what I saw on the trading desk. As the financial crisis unfolded, there were more and more things to show.
How many tours have you given?
We’ve been giving tours since April 2009 and run six public tours per week. We also provide private tours.
How many people have come along on your tours?
The size of our group has grown to double digits. We try to keep the group to a manageable and intimate size of less than 20.
Are most of those who come on your tour Americans? Foreigners?
We get half Americans and half foreigners, predominately Europeans and also a surprisingly high number of Australians.
What are the attitudes of those on your tours regarding the current financial crisis? Angry? Jaded? Confused? Hoping for change?
I would say they come open-minded to learn more about the financial crisis. My guests want to spend two hours seeing and hearing firsthand what happened, and I tell them that a financial crisis will happen again (perhaps not in our lifetimes) since we operate in a capitalistic system, which is driven by human ambition and regulated by human wisdom. Capitalism is the best system we have, but it’s also not perfect.
My guests are typically sophisticated, intellectually curious individuals with jobs as CFOs, private equity investors, traders, professors, students, doctors, lawyers, and business owners.
As the financial situation improves, do you hope to continue your tours and/or perhaps branch out into other topics?
First, I think it is valuable to remind people of history and the mistakes that caused such a crisis. So I hope to always have this tour available. Do you think people would like to take a Hurricane Katrina tour when they visit New Orleans, or a Ground Zero tour in NYC even years after those events? I think yes. I think the same with the Financial Crisis Tour. Second, the goal of The Wall Street Experience tour is to give NYC visitors an understanding of the financial markets and history that is not available elsewhere. We try to personify and demystify Wall Street, by allowing visitors to interact with real Wall Street workers and by telling stories that put events and faces to Wall Street buildings/landmarks.
No other tours are designed and run by people with Wall Street experience. So as long as there is a demand for an in-depth Wall Street tour that speaks about our current financial markets, we will run these tours.
Photos: Andrew Luan