Alum rings first bell of 2020 at the New York Stock Exchange

A very loud, 18-inch diameter bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has announced the first trades of each new day since the current building opened in 1903. On Jan. 2 of this year, the first trades of the new decade were rung in by Eastern Mennonite University alum Brian Plum ‘01, along with with Blue Ridge Bankshares, Inc. directors and managers.

Plum, who is the president and CEO of Blue Ridge Bank in Luray, Va., said the event was a momentous milestone. (Blue Ridge Bankshares is the bank’s parent company.)

“The experience was a great opportunity for me to reflect on how much I appreciate those people in my life, both living and deceased, who have impacted me along my journey, and to be grateful to the Lord for the success I’ve had and the people He has placed in my life,” Plum said. “I know it meant a lot to my wife and parents and others who have supported me along the way.”

That morning, Plum clustered on a small balcony with his colleagues, cameras flashing, and pushed the small green button which electronically controls the four bells located in each trading area of the stock exchange.

“There is a lot of pomp and circumstance,” Plum said. “Everyone gathers in a large, ornate room ahead of time for pictures and for a brief ceremony and presentation of keepsakes for the occasion. The group then heads down to the NYSE floor to sign a book and then proceeds to the balcony to ring the bell.”

What surprised Plum, besides the intense volume of the bell, was the number of people on the trading floor.

“The continued push to electronic trading has had an obvious impact on the number of people in and around the NYSE building,” Plum explained. 

Nonetheless, the nationally-televised experience was deeply meaningful to Plum, who has accumulated a number of local and regional recognitions throughout his career. He first joined Blue Ridge Bank in 2006, working his way up through leadership positions until becoming the bank president in 2014.

Plum, a certified public accountant (CPA), has been designated a “super CPA” by the Virginia Business magazine and the Virginia Society of CPAs three times. In 2018, Plum was named chairman of the Virginia Association of Community Banks.

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