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Nelson Chai

Nelson Joosuk Chai
Residence New York City
Education University of Pennsylvania
Harvard Business School
Employer CIT Group
Known for New York Stock Exchange-Archipelago Exchange merger
Salary $600,000 (2007)[1]
Title President
Spouse(s) Jung
Children 3
Korean name
Hangul 채주석[2]
Revised Romanization Chae Juseok
McCune–Reischauer Ch'ae Chusŏk

Nelson Joosuk Chai (born 1965) is an American investment banker.[2][3] He formerly served as the chief financial officer of American financial services company Merrill Lynch and briefly as Bank of America's president for the Asia-Pacific region.[4][5] As of August 2011, he is the president of CIT Group, reporting directly to CEO John Thain.[6]


  • Career 1
    • Archipelago 1.1
    • Merrill Lynch 1.2
    • Bank of America 1.3
    • CIT Group 1.4
  • Personal life and other activities 2
  • References 3


Chai served in senior positions at AlliedSignal and Philip Morris before joining medical diagnostics products manufacturer Dade Behring in 1997 as corporate vice president of worldwide field finance; he later became their senior vice president of business development.[7]


Chai was named chief financial officer of Chicago, Illinois-based electronic communication network company Archipelago Exchange in June 2000.[8] Chai was a major driving force behind the merger between Archipelago and the New York Stock Exchange; he repeatedly pressured his boss Archipelago CEO Gerald Putnam, to meet with NYSE officials, though Putnam felt that the NYSE would be uninterested and hoped instead to pursue an acquisition of rival ECN Instinet.[9] In April 2005, when Archipelago formally announced its pending acquisition by the NYSE, it was decided that Chai would take over as CFO of the NYSE in May 2006 from Amy Butte, who had held that position since February 2004. Butte later decided to leave the exchange entirely rather than continue at her planned new position as executive vice president of strategy and product development.[10] In 2006, Chai received a salary of $750,000 and a bonus of $825,000 from the NYSE; combined with other payments, his cash compensation for the year totalled $2,168,922.[11]

Merrill Lynch

On 3 December 2007, John Thain, the new chief executive officer at Merrill Lynch and Chai's former boss at the NYSE, announced that Chai would join Merrill in the position of chief financial officer starting on 10 December; the move was part of a management shake-up at Merrill, initiated due to their losses in the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.[4] Chai replaced Jeffrey Edwards, who had held the position of CFO since 2005; Thain stated Edwards would assume another unspecified role within Merrill.[12] Chai's new employer revealed that he would receive a bonus of $2.5 million for the 2007 fiscal year, split evenly between cash and stock, for his three weeks of work that year, bringing his total compensation for the year to $3.1 million.[1][13] Merrill justified the bonus by pointing out that Chai would not receive any year-end incentive payment from his previous employer. Chai was slated to receive a salary of $600,000 in 2008.[1] However, he and other top-level Merrill executives received no bonus that year, due to the ongoing financial crisis.[14]

Bank of America

When Bank of America (BofA) acquired Merrill Lynch in late 2008, they named Chai to head their Asia business.[15] BofA planned to relocate Chai to Hong Kong for his new position. He replaced Jason Brand, who had worked at BofA for 15 years.[16] However, Chai departed from BofA in February, just two weeks after the ouster of Thain, and was replaced by Ki-Myung Hong.[5] He had not yet relocated to Hong Kong at the time he quit. His departure left just one other member of Thain's management team in place at BofA, Tom Montag as head of sales and trading.[17]

CIT Group

In early 2010, the CIT Group reportedly approached Chai about the CFO position there after they hired Thain as CEO.[18] In June, they announced that Chai would be coming on board, but in the capacity of chief administrative officer and head of strategy instead. Chai's new responsibilities at CIT include global infrastructure and operating architecture, leadership of the insurance and consumer finance divisions, as well as business development and strategic planning.[19] A little over a year later, in August 2011, he was named CIT's president; following the promotion, he would keep his prior responsibilities as CAO and head of strategy, and in addition would take charge of CIT's corporate finance and vendor finance businesses.[6][20] His total compensation package for 2011 was $1.7 million, down by 40% from 2010, reflecting a broader downward trend in executive compensation packages at CIT to which the only exceptions were Thain himself and transportation division president Jeffrey Knittel.[21]

Personal life and other activities

Chai was born in New York to Korean immigrant parents.[13] He studied as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, and went on to receive an MBA from the Harvard Business School.[11] He has three children with his wife Jung, a stay-at-home mom.[22] They lived in Lake Forest, Illinois before moving to New York City. Chai previously drove an Isuzu Trooper compact sport utility vehicle, but traded it in for a Toyota Prius hybrid electric vehicle in 2004.[23]

Chai has served on the board of directors of the United States-India Business Council since August 17, 2007.[24] He is also a member of the national board of directors of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.[25]


  1. ^ a b c Jeffs, Luke (2007-12-11), "Merrill to pay Chai $2.5m for three weeks' work", Online Financial News (Dow Jones), retrieved 2007-12-12 
  2. ^ a b "22일 일하고 29억 받는다 메릴린치 새 CFO 한국계 넬슨 채씨 (Worked for 22 days and got paid ₩2.9 billion; Merrill Lynch's Korean-descended CFO Mr. Nelson Chai)", Chosun Ilbo, 2007-12-09, retrieved 2012-10-21 
  3. ^ Xu, Jody (2010-06-01), "CIT Hires Ex-Thain Lieutenant Chai As Administrative Chief", Wall Street Journal, archived from the original on 2010-08-15, retrieved 2010-09-30 
  4. ^ a b "Merrill Hires Finance Chief", The New York Times, 2007-12-04, retrieved 2007-12-12 
  5. ^ a b Chan, Cathy (2009-04-08), "Bank of America Said to Lose Asia Power Banking Team", Bloomberg, retrieved 2009-11-17 
  6. ^ a b Rusli, Evelyn M. (2011-08-08), "CIT names Nelson Chai president", The New York Times, retrieved 2011-09-23 
  7. ^ "Merrill Lynch Names Nelson Chai as Chief Financial Officer", Press release, Merrill Lynch, 2007-12-03, retrieved 2007-12-12 
  8. ^ "Archipelago appoints Nelson Chai as chief financial officer", Press release, Archipelago Exchange, 2000-06-12, retrieved 2007-12-12 
  9. ^ Bailey, Jeff (2005-06-03), "A Maverick Becomes the Man", The New York Times, retrieved 2007-12-12 
  10. ^ "A Change at Big Board", The New York Times, 2006-02-15, retrieved 2007-12-12 
  11. ^ a b "Nelson Chai Profile", Forbes, retrieved 2007-12-12 
  12. ^ "Merrill Lynch names NYSE's Nelson Chai as CFO", Forbes, 2007-12-03, retrieved 2007-12-12 
  13. ^ a b Jeong, Yeong-hyo (2007-12-08), "메릴린치 韓계 CFO 넬슨채 올해 총보수 310만弗 (Merrill Lynch's Korean-descended CFO Nelson Chai total compensation this year $3.1 million)", Chosun Ilbo, retrieved 2009-02-11 
  14. ^ Harper, Christine (2008-12-08), "Morgan Stanley, Merrill Executives to Forgo Bonuses", Bloomberg, retrieved 2009-11-17 
  15. ^ Comlay, Elinor (2008-12-18), "Bank of America names Merrill CFO to head Asia", Reuters, retrieved 2009-11-17 
  16. ^ Keoun, Bradley; Trowbridge, Poppy (2008-12-18), "Bank of America Moves Chai; Berkery Said to Depart", Bloomberg, retrieved 2009-11-17 
  17. ^ Farrell, Greg; Guerrera, Francesco (2009-02-03), "BofA Asia head and Thain ally leaves", Financial Times, retrieved 2009-11-17 
  18. ^ "CIT Group Names Ex-Merrill Lynch Head John Thain CEO", RTTNews, 2010-02-07, retrieved 2010-09-30 
  19. ^ "CIT Names Nelson Chai Chief Administrative Officer, Robert Rowe Chief Credit Officer", RTT News, 2010-06-01, retrieved 2010-09-30 
  20. ^ "한인 넬슨 채, CIT 그룹 사장 됐다", Korea Daily New York, 2011-08-11, retrieved 2011-09-23 
  21. ^ "CIT CEO Thain's 2011 pay rose 23 pct to $8.2 mln", Reuters, 2012-04-05, retrieved 2012-10-21 
  22. ^ "Steering Away from Guzzlers", BusinessWeek, 2004-05-31, retrieved 2007-12-12 
  23. ^ Png, Ivan; Lehman, Dale (2007), Managerial Economics, Blackwell Publishing, p. 23,  
  24. ^ "USIBC appoints Nelson Chai to its Board of Directors", Economic Times (India), 2007-08-17, retrieved 2008-02-20 
  25. ^ Board of Directors: Nelson Chai, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, retrieved 2009-12-01 
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