After serving with Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-based The Baker Group for 35 years, Lester F. Murray has announced his retirement as of May 28. He has been an associate partner with the company since 2014, working within the firm’s financial strategies group.
Every Friday at lunchtime for the past decade, community bankers, directors and others in the financial services industry have been treated to the wit and wisdom of Murray’s economic newsletter, officially named the Baker Market Update, but now better known as Lunch with Lester. The newsletter is a recap of economic news that’s nearly impossible to read without chuckling, laughing or chortling, yet readers have been provided with everything they need to know about the state of the U.S. economy, Federal Reserve policy and/or financial markets in any given week. Murray also hosted Latte with Larry, a Monday morning preview of the week’s economic developments, Federal Reserve actions and an overview of the week’s expected data releases. The two weekly reports are also available as podcasts. Murray also maintained the company’s Market Moment blog.
A graduate of Oklahoma State University with a BS degree in finance and economics, Murray began his career as a regulator, working as a national bank examiner at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—or “The Force,” as Murray likes to call it. He then went to work for a bank dealer department and eventually found his home at what was then called James Baker and Co. During much of his tenure at The Baker Group, he enlightened, educated, informed and entertained many a banker as an instructor at banking schools and a presenter at banking trade association events, as well as the company’s own events.
“His weekly writing has been his real gift,” The Baker Group notes in a press release announcing Murray’s retirement. “Weaving cultural news with economic data and an unmatched wit, Lester gave us our lunchtime lesson each Friday with plentiful laughter. Whatever the season, there was a quip, pun or creative string of metaphors that somehow led us to a lesson about newly released economic data. There are a lot of economic columnists and writers, but there is—and always has been—only one Lester Murray! And after more than 35 years with Baker, we’re all going to have to get used to suffering through Friday lunchtime without Lester’s cooking. It won’t be the same, but there’s always hope for that book we’ve encouraged him to write: The Way Things Ought to Be.
The Baker Group will continue with its weekly update after Murray’s retirement. This Friday, May 28, will be his final installment of Lunch with Lester.
Established in 1979, The Baker Group is one of the nation’s largest independently owned securities firms specializing in asset/liabilty and investment portfolio management for community financial institutions. The company helps clients improve decision-making, manage interest rate risk and maximize investment portfolio performance.