It was short and sweet.
But with smiles all around and preceded by cheer-like clapping, Synovus Financial Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kessel Stelling rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday.
The big moment, a first for the Columbus-based regional bank, came at 4 p.m. with the CEO actually pushing a button that rings the bell, signifying trading is over for the day, then punctuating the close with the rap of a gavel.
Stelling was in New York City to address Wall Street brokerage analysts who follow his company’s performance. He was joined by several Synovus executives and board members, with high-fives being given just after the bell’s ringing concluded.
Synovus, parent company of Columbus Bank and Trust, celebrated its 125th anniversary in business just a couple of weeks ago. The firm is steadily rebounding from the financial crisis that hammered the banking and housing sectors starting in 2007.
In a recent interview, Stelling reflected on what ringing the closing bell means to his company, hoping it helps “bring closure” to the financial and human pain Synovus has suffered. It has downsized from 7,400 employees pre-recession to about 4,900 today.
“Three years ago, people didn’t think we would be here, and now we’re ringing the bell on the New York Stock Exchange,” he said. “I think what that symbolizes for our company is very important.”
Bells have been a tradition at the New York Stock Exchange since the 1870s, according to its website. It was in 1903 that brass bells replaced the original Chinese gong. And technology changed the bell cryer-style manual hand ringing to the simple push of a button.
For the record, Synovus shares gained 2 cents on the day, closing at $3.32, with the overall market rising modestly. The Dow Jones Industrials were up more than 71 points to 15,821, while the S&P 500 index rose more than 14 points to 1,782.