Market purity in a government age: BB&T’s lessons on corporate temptation
Culture of Competition CEO Series
Video
About This Event

Post-Event Summary

On Thursday, during the first event of AEI's new Culture of Competition CEO Series, former BB&T Corporation CEO and current Cato President John Allison presented the ethical business principles that kept BB&T focused on long-term value for its customers. Rather than using government programs to create short-term stock increases, emphasized Allison, BB&T sought to create long-lasting relationships in the communities served by the bank, and at times went head-to-head with regulators and government officials to push for sound banking policy.

Allison attributed BB&T's anti-cronyism tendencies to its management training, which underscores the importance of ethics and creating meaningful work for employees. By striving to live according to BB&T's governing principles, said Allison, managers have the freedom to serve their customers in ways that best fit their needs instead of working for higher stock value.

He stressed that in cases when government regulation interfered with customers' long-term interests, the bank focused on compliance, but also lobbied for changes to the rule. Allison concluded by emphasizing that considering BB&T was the only bank that remained profitable for every quarter during the US financial crisis and recession, the bank's commitment to market principles affirms the superiority of free enterprise over cronyism and special privileges.
--Lori Sanders

Event Description
As political connections increasingly determine economic success, how should a principled, free-market CEO lead? AEI’s new Culture of Competition CEO Series will explore this important question. In this keynote, Cato Institute President and CEO John Allison will discuss his time as chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation, America’s 10th-largest financial services holding company.

As BB&T’s leader during a period of immense growth, Allison consistently stood for markets over special favors. Based on the experiences detailed in his latest book, “The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy's Only Hope” (McGraw-Hill, 2012), Allison will address the temptations created by government incentives and the principles that kept BB&T focused on true value creation rather than easy, unsustainable profits.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.

Agenda

11:45 PM
Registration and Lunch

12:00 PM
Introduction:
Arthur Brooks, AEI

Keynote Address:
John Allison, Cato Institute

2:00 PM
Adjournment

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Lori Sanders at [email protected], 202.862.7172.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected] or 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

John Allison is the president and CEO of the Cato Institute. Before joining Cato, Allison was chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation, the 10th-largest financial services holding company headquartered in the US. During his tenure as CEO from 1989 to 2008, BB&T grew from $4.5 billion to $152 billion in assets. He was recognized by the Harvard Business Review as one of the top 100 most successful CEOs in the world over the last decade. He is a former distinguished professor of practice at Wake Forest University School of Business, and serves on the board of visitors at the business schools at Wake Forest University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

Arthur C. Brooks has been the president of AEI since January 1, 2009. Previously, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to military operations research. His most recent book is the New York Times bestseller “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (Basic Books, 2012). Other books include “The Battle” (Basic Books, May 2010), “Gross National Happiness” (Basic Books, 2008), “Social Entrepreneurship” (Prentice-Hall, 2008) and “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism” (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.

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