‘Something beautiful’: How Cantor Fitzgerald rebuilt itself after 9/11

The financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald used to be on top of the world -- quite literally -- before the September 11 attacks, when the hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, killing nearly two-thirds of its employees.

In the 17 years since then, the equity powerhouse climbed its way out of grief and back into business. Although it lost 650 employees on 9/11 -- most of its work staff -- Cantor now employs more than 4,000 people, having steadily rebuilt in the years after the terrorist attack.

And on Tuesday, for the 16th year, BGC Partners held its star-studded charity day for the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund.

In total, the company has raised $147 million to aid not just families of loved ones who died during the attacks, but countless other charities dedicated to 9/11.

“It’s uplifting, it’s upbeat, it’s exciting,” Cantor CEO Howard Lutnick said during an interview with FOX Business’ Liz Claman. “All of my employees are waiving their days’ pay, and they’re having fun, and they’re raising a lot of money for charity. On such a tough day for us, they’ve turned it really into extraordinarily, powerful, into something beautiful.”

And that’s not to mention the reparations Cantor itself pays to families: The company offers 25 percent of everything, including salaries, to families, as well as providing any children of parents killed in the attacks with a job if they want one.

In 2016, Cantor hired about 57 children of parents who were killed; now, it’s about 100, Lutnick said.

And Lutnick understands the pain of losing a loved one. He lost his best friend in the terrorist attack that shook the U.S. to its core, as well as his younger brother Gary Lutnick, who also worked at Cantor. (Lutnick himself became an icon after the attack, having missed work to take his son to his first day of kindergarten).

“I’ve always felt that I was standing on my brother’s shoulders in rebuilding this company,” he said. “It’s his voice that I was able to talk to the families with, and it’s his soul that we’ve built up this company on, taking care of so many people. He lives on inside of me, inside of my sister, inside of this company.”