Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Business

C1 Financial chief's role as first gay CEO of a publicly traded bank called historic, mundane

Trevor Burgess rang in the morning at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday and became the first openly gay chief executive of a publicly listed bank.

Burgess, who was joined by other members of St. Petersburg-based C1 Financial's leadership team, disclosed in the company's initial public offering filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that his husband, Gary Hess, held some shares. The federal government recognizes same-sex marriage; the state of Florida does not.

Openly gay chief executives are a rarity at the nation's 1,000 biggest companies. Though some may be assumed to be gay or out in their personal lives, none have spoken publicly. The chief executive of the publicly traded IGI Laboratories, Jason Grenfell-Gardner, is openly gay. Burgess, who also spent about 10 years at Morgan Stanley, said he had been openly gay since he was a teenager.

Todd Sears, the founder of Out Leadership, a strategic advising firm that focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender business opportunities, called Burgess's role both "historic and mundane."

"On the historic side, he's the first openly gay CEO of a publicly traded bank," Sears said. "On the mundane side, he's just another married CEO, with a daughter, who took a company public."

Burgess said he hoped he could be an example for young people who are interested in business.

"I can't play football or basketball, but I am good at business," he said. "Hopefully I can be a good role model."

John Browne, former chief of the oil company BP, said, "Role models like Trevor prove that being open and authentic is no barrier to success." Browne resigned in 2007 as chief after a British tabloid outed him under a headline that screamed "The TRUE story about Lord Browne — by ex-rent boy lover."

C1 Financial, ticker symbol BNK, is the parent company of C1 Bank. Its stock price held its own in its first day of trading Thursday, closely matching its initial asking price of $17 a share after some modest fluctuation in earlier trading.

Information from Times staff writers contributed to this report.

 
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