Remembering Mark W. Olson

A Letter from Andy Sandler Remembering Mark W. Olson

Treliant Team,

It is with great sadness and a profound sense of loss that I must advise you that our co-founder and retired Chairman, Mark W. Olson, passed away following a long, courageous battle with his illness.  Mark and I came to know each other almost thirty years ago when we teamed up to help banks understand and grapple with new expectations relating to fair lending.  Over the years Mark became a close friend as well as a mentor.  No one is more responsible for the reputation, success, and culture of our company than is Mark Olson. 

It was my greatest professional experience to partner with Mark in founding and building Treliant into the company it is today.  I can remember like it was yesterday our breakfast in June 2009, just as Mark was retiring from his highly successful term as Chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), when I outlined my vision for a financial services consulting firm that we could build together.  Mark listened carefully—being a great listener was one of his many qualities—reflected briefly, and responded: “Great, I have one more rodeo in me and this sounds like the right one.”  And so was the tiny consultancy consisting of Susanna and me set on the path to becoming one of the nation’s leading financial services consulting firms. 

Over the past 50 years, no person has made a greater overall contribution as a public servant, banker, and advisor to the financial services industry and all who work in it and benefit from it.
 Mark was an enormously well-respected public servant, acting in senior staff roles in Congress, as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and as Chairman of the PCAOB.  As one of the youngest bank CEOs in the country, in his home town of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Mark was selected to be President of the American Bankers Association, where his persistent focus on sound and ethical banking practices and sensible regulation guided the banking industry. 

After his term at the ABA, he led the EY financial services practice and later, after returning to government, he became the guiding force in the growth and development of Treliant.
 Among Mark’s greatest pleasures in his last years was to share all that he had learned in his frequent writing and CNBC appearances as a guest commentator on the financial services issues of the day and, most importantly to Mark, in his day-to-day interactions with all of you at Treliant.  He took such pride in all of your capabilities and the collective success that you have achieved by being skilled professionals, collaborative colleagues, and good people with good values. 

As much as Mark loved all of us and the financial services industry, he always reserved his greatest love and affection for his beloved wife Renee and his children Stephanie and Ben.  I cannot even recount the number of times Mark has told me over a good glass of wine how he viewed himself as the luckiest man in the world to have found Renee and to have had the opportunity to build a family and community with her for the many years that they had together. 

Please join me in pledging to the memory of Mark Olson, among the best men any of us will ever have the privilege of knowing, that we will carry on and do our best to live with his sense of dedication and decency in our personal and professional lives. 


Tributes to Mark W. Olson

"Mark was Treliant’s Wise Owl. He observed, listened, and spoke only words that generated effective action and sharpened insight. I will sorely miss his wise counsel and loving friendship more than any single person I have worked with over my entire professional career."
Susanna K. Tisa

"Mark was always forthright and kind. He reminded all of us that the only thing that really matters in our business is our reputation. He cautioned, “guard it carefully, for once it is lost you can never fully recover it.” Mark lived that way every day for as long as I have known him. A beacon for all of us.

Rest in Peace Mark W. Olson."
John P. Carey

"I was hired right about the same time that Mark joined Andy and Susanna. I was a consultant for the company back then. Mark was my “go to” person since the day I met him. I have counted on Mark’s sound advice and guidance for many years now. I would tell him the situation, what my approach would be, and then he would respond with “that is exactly what I would do.” If he had another opinion, he would explain the reason for it, and trust that I would carry it out in the appropriate way. He was quick to respond whenever I reached out to him. That meant the world to me. I have wonderful memories of my many conversations with Mark. We routinely weaved in to the conversation fun updates about family, trips, and upcoming plans. I loved when Mark would walk into the office and say “come see my new pictures of the grand kids.” He just beamed at the photos every time. He was so proud of his children and lit up at any mention of his wife, Renee. His smile was contagious, his heart was enormous, and his wisdom was unending. I will miss Mark very much."
Joan S. Morgulec

"Mark Olson has been ever present in my life, in Washington, since I arrived as a green young Congressman in 1982. He has been a moral compass, a fountainhead of knowledge and wisdom, and a steady force for doing the right thing, every time. Long before Treliant: he came to Washington as Chief of Staff for my mentor Congressman Bill Frenzel of Minnesota, perhaps the most admired Member of Congress during his time.

Then, Mark led a full Washington policy maker and good government career over the decades: President of the American Bankers Association, respected Governor at the Federal Reserve Board, Chairman of the PCAOB, insightful commentator on CNBC, all leading to Treliant.

Mark Olson lived the perfect example of "a life well-lived."

A life of kindness, care, and wisdom all in one.

Always wise, always the highest ethical standards, and always respectful and courteous.

We remember Mark’s wisdom, his kindness, his insights, and his total commitment to doing the right thing."
Steve Bartlett

"Mark is remembered most for his strong moral compass and his wisdom, but I like to remember his generosity of spirit. He was always ready to help with any project we had. When Dodd-Frank was first enacted he agreed to go with Susanna and me on a cross country speaking trip to community bankers to discuss the law and its impact on them.  It was a hard trip, including many hours driving in cars to small towns, but he thrived on talking to bankers and their admiration for him was obvious. I asked him to speak with me for a whole day at the business college at Texas A&M. We spent a long hard day speaking to a group of students and faculty at all levels, ending with a long dinner.  Mark was amazing, engaging with everyone and speaking repeatedly. I’ll never forget how generous he was to put himself out there just because I asked. (Incidentally, I received an email from the dean of the business college yesterday. They noted Mark’s death and told me again how much they appreciated his visit back in 2011 and noted that he would be missed in Aggieland.)

One fond memory is his sense of humor and playfulness. Our very first Treliant party at the ABA Regulatory Compliance Conference in 2011 was held in a large hotel suite.  It was our first “coming out” party as a company to the compliance industry. At the end of the evening, Mark sat down at the piano and played and sang “Lean on Me.” It was such a great end to our first great party."
Kathlyn (Lyn) L. Farrell

"There are not enough praise-worthy adjectives in the world to describe Mark. No matter how long you knew Mark he always made you feel like you knew him a lifetime. He was a mentor and role model simply by his words and actions. I watched him with tremendous admiration as he courageously and graciously battled his health issues over the last two years. Mark’s philosophy was do what’s right and always act in the most ethical manner.

Who can ever forget that Mark Olson smile?

As the song goes …. Mark, 'you were simply the best, better than all the rest.'”
Howard A. Eisenhardt

"An expert at listening, which so many of us have not and never will master. Caring, gentle, and easily approachable. Mark commanded his subject matter and was a trusted advisor to so many, including to myself. I had the honor and pleasure to work closely with him, which was like working with a professor; you learned something new every time he spoke."
Ross Marrazzo

Never the loudest person in the room, but always the wisest. Why make a speech, if a few words will do? He led by listening and guiding which brought out the best in all those around him. Like so many, I am blessed to have crossed paths with Mark."
- B. Scott Fisher

"The reason I came to Treliant, in addition to Andy, Catherine Brown, and Lyn Farrell, was Mark Olson. I was doing a presentation with Lyn in some long-forgotten city and she introduced me to Mark. We had a great conversation and he convinced me to join this fledgling firm. When people like Andy and Mark, legends in the field, ask you to come work with them, you say where do I sign?

Mark’s integrity, honesty, and unique insight will survive for generations to come. His dedication to his craft was unsurpassed. I’ll always remember his very simple but genius advice to “always listen first.” Thanks to Mark it will always be at the front of my mind."
Carl G. Pry

"While Mark clearly distinguished himself with his intellect and keen sense of the financial regulatory environment, I will remember him most for his warm smile and genuine love for working with all of us at Treliant. Mark particularly enjoyed being a coach and mentor to our younger teammates and they responded with love and respect. I miss him already and will think about him for years to come. Although I have known Mark for many years, I am so blessed that I had the opportunity during the past two and a half years to work directly with him. Rest In Peace Mark."
Edward B. Kramer

"Ethicist and hockey player. That’s how I’ll remember Mark Olson. He was guided by bone-deep instincts for fair play in all of his endeavors, paired with a vigorous stance to compete and win. Skate hard, give more than you get, respect your opponent, respect the game, be a good teammate, shake hands and have a beer after the game. Repeat. If that’s old school, then I choose old school."
- Stephen C. Rudner 

"I’ll always remember Mark for his moral compass as a regulator and his willingness to “suit up” at a moment's notice as a businessman. 
He was always there for us and while he pulled no punches, he always had our best interest at heart. The consummate professional no matter which hat he was wearing. He’ll be sorely missed as a friend and partner."
Waldo M. Abbot

"My fondest memory of Mark Olson is when we had just finished Mid-Year All-Hands 2017 and we were sitting next to each other amid the festivities. I turned to him and said, “You should sing that song ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ – it would fit you perfectly.” He hesitated and then said, “Oh, I don’t know…” I kept telling him how it totally fits him because he 
is the very embodiment of the song itself… and then after a little while he said, “I tell you what, if you go and put that song on for me and write my name down, I will sing it.” And I did, and so did he. It was the most magical moment – one that I will never ever forget and will always be in my heart."
- Elizabeth Pereda

"Mark Olson was the truest definition of integrity: one of the pillars which our great firm, Treliant, was built upon. Mark was enormously respected. He was indeed one of the best leaders in our industry, and he will be missed.  Mark believed in doing things right with the utmost quality and respect. Mark was the role model for many of us in a ‘career well-defined.’  Not only did he have a very successful career
, but he founded Treliant – and offered many of us wonderful career opportunities; for this we are very grateful.  His honesty, hard work, and goals of building a successful consulting firm are the cornerstone of Treliant today. Thank you, Mark, for all that you’ve done. You will be greatly missed. We will carry on the legacy that you helped to build."
- Mary Anne Burke