Joseph S. Fichera is one of the founders and the current chief executive officer of Saber Partners, LLC, a New York financial advisory firm for corporations and government regulators. His areas of expertise include corporate governance, financial markets, capital markets finance and effective regulation. He provides independent expert advice to corporate and municipal finance issuers, investors, regulators and brokerage firms.
Under Mr. Fichera’s leadership, Saber is widely recognized for its strategic guidance and financial innovations — unique, precedent-setting solutions — that have set new standards and lowered costs, especially for companies or governments that sell securities in the global capital markets. Saber analyzes, advises, creates and carries out strategic financing solutions that cross financial products, whether equities, corporate debt or securitized debt (See Client Testimonials).
In addition, Mr. Fichera has served as a Senior Advisor to The Williams Capital Group, L.P. an independent securities brokerage, investment management and financial services firm. He advised WCG on various securities and capital markets related initiatives involving the Company’s corporate and municipal client service efforts including mergers and acquisitions.
One of Fichera’s first innovations was SABRES (“share-adjusted, broker-remarketed equity securities”), a preferred stock structure that challenged conventional wisdom and reduced capital-raising costs and risks in the preferred stock market then-dominated by auction rate preferred securities. Developed in the late 1980s, SABRES attracted sophisticated issuers, like Exxon Corporation, across America. While in corporate finance, another one of his innovations influenced and won recognition in the market for municipal and not-for-profit institutions as well. Within 2 years of being hired as an entry-level Associate, The Bond Buyer described him as a “securities innovator” who created the first flexible debt security to manage risk and lower capital costs known as “Adjustable Tender Securities.” Still in his early 30s, Fichera became a go-to resource for clients in search of strategic advice and creative solutions based on solid financial principles and demonstrated personal integrity.
Throughout his more than 3 decade Wall Street career, Fichera has taken on challenges to resolve opaque corporate problems involving finance, policy, and governance. His client list has grown to include Fortune 500 companies, such as ExxonMobil and GE Capital, state regulatory commissions, the governor of California, Hendrick Automotive, Luby’s Restaurants, Trans Tech Pharma, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, among others.
Fichera also has a record of balancing the interests of public sector clients and rate-paying consumers with the financing needs of corporate bond issuers. He has assembled and led top-notch Saber teams that have advised the public service commissions of Florida, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin on the sale of billions of dollars of corporate bonds to finance vital infrastructure and related projects. These projects included the costs of the transition to a competitive market for electricity in Texas, retirement of nuclear facilities, repair of critical public works after hurricanes in Florida, and clean air facilities in West Virginia and Wisconsin. Saber also created new and unique ways to guide intricate financings through global capital markets. With these innovative financings under Mr. Fichera’s leadership, Saber opened new investor markets and new investor bases, saving borrowers millions of dollars.
Fichera was an early, outspoken critic of the auction rate securities market long before its collapse. He has advised institutional investors, broker-dealers and regulators on possible solutions to the current crisis and helped resolve litigation.
As a public and private-sector financier, Fichera has consistently advocated greater transparency, stronger oversight and active participation to help make markets work effectively and efficiently. He plans to continue promoting these and other common goals with his characteristic passion and persistence.
Joseph Sebastian Fichera grew up in a working-class family of Italian descent in Rochester, New York. As a teenager in the late 1960s, he responded to efforts for school desegregation by voluntarily switching from his own largely white Catholic high school to a largely black inner-city school. His community efforts, through the Catholic church for justice and equal opportunity in education – including serving as an ex-officio member of the Rochester city school board – impressed Princeton University. After considering his SAT scores and strong academic performance, Princeton admitted him to the class of 1976 on a tuition scholarship. He was the only student from the city admitted.
After later earning his MBA from the Yale School of Management and many years on Wall Street, he returned to Princeton as an executive fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He then became one of Princeton’s visiting lecturers on world finance and politics in 2008. He also helped advise the university’s economics department, then chaired by Ben Bernanke, the current Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. He currently serves on Princeton’s Center for Economic Policy Studies led by Alan Blinder, former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve and member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. Mr. Blinder is Chair of the Saber Partners Advisory Board since the company’s inception in 2000 and also was one of Mr. Fichera’s economics professors while he was a student at Princeton University.
In the Spring of 2008 and Fall of 2011, Fichera taught a graduate level course on public finance at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University as a visiting lecturer. The course examined how public and private sector organizations raise capital in the financial markets, with a strong focus on public policy.
Before forming Saber Partners in 2000, Fichera learned the complexities of investment banking from the bottom up. He started as an Associate and through promotions served variously as a vice president in corporate finance at Smith Barney, and a managing director originating and executing transactions, often through product development at both Prudential Securities and Bear Stearns. During the Carter presidency, he was a special assistant for policy in the Department of Housing and Urban Development working for the first African-American woman member of the US Cabinet, Patricia Roberts Harris.
Fichera’s many articles on accountability, transparency, and financial management have appeared in The New York Times, Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, and other business periodicals. In 1990 and 1991, Institutional Investor presented him its “Deal of The Year” award for transactions first for corporate and then for municipal finance. He then was awarded a subsequent “Deal of the Year” award in asset backed securities from Asset Securitization Report. His innovations and insights have been profiled in detail in the print media, from The Wall Street Journal to Yale Management Review. He has been a frequent guest commentator on financial news media, including Bloomberg Television, National Public Radio, CNN Financial, and Fox Broadcasting.