Monday, January 26, 2009

Taking the bull by the horns

As promised I am posting the response to my email... It is from someone I actually know and have the world of respect for. He is the distract Admin manager. A life time employee. He worked his way up the ladder. He is a good manager. I would imagine his retirement has tanked - given that some of his comp in in ML stock.

When he was the Admin Manager of the Office I worked in, he ran a tight ship and he did a good job. I would work for him again I think.

But still, he is an admin manager of a sales complex of a firm. While he has been to the executive suite in Manhattan, he is not part of the inner circle, by my estimation.

And that is the travesty. Good people, like KH and my friend and countless others, who have built their careers by doing what is right and by growing and learning - they are the ones who suffer - just like those at Lehman. They lose their retirement benefits and all of it - when some small niche of people get together and follow their own vanity and their own greed. When one is an CEO, CFO, CIO or whatever O's - they are an officer of the corporation and it is their DUTY to act in the best interest of the company - HELLO that is Business 101. I think they need to go take a refresher course - because there is precious little of that going on in this Day and Age!

It makes me incredibly sad. And angry.... I was heartened to hear that the Client Associates and other hourly employees did not get the shaft. That helps ease the anger a touch. But still...


There probably is more to come. Unfortunately the press just loves this sort of thing and frequently they spin it to their own advantage. Let me give you a better sense of the bonus issue. Overall the bonuses were down about 40% as compared to last year. You might say that they should be down 100% given the losses that were incurred by Merrill Lynch. But, the great majority of those bonuses, as in the past, are paid to support people. As an example, the CA bonuses, EIP, were basically flat from prior years. There was a tremendous effort on the part of senior management in our division to insure that the CAs, along with other support positions, did not have their overall compensation harmed in any significant way, even in the face of the losses incurred by the firm. Also, CAs did get an increase last year, which was pretty much in line with increases in prior years. At the same time, any employee whose salary was $100,000 or greater was frozen.

A lot of humor has been gained at John Thain’s and ML’s expense over the revelation that he spent $30,000 for a commode. There were other items on the list that seemed equally frivolous. But, to clarify, he did not spend $1.2MYN to redecorate his office. He spent it on a redesign of the executive suites, which included areas outside of his own office. I have seen the executive suites at ML and I have seen Thain’s office. The office itself makes up a small portion of the entire space. Now having said that, was it, in retrospect, a good idea to spend that money on the executive suites with everything else that was going on? Probably not. Some of us in the field take pride in running a tight ship and not spending money when it’s not needed, in both good times and in bad. Just ask E. Or even think back when you were here. We are careful with how we spend money and a lot of management in the field behaves the same way.

Just an update. I understand that John Thain has announced that he is reimbursing ML for the $1.2MYN. I believe that Maria Bartaromo is interviewing him today and this will likely be part of the discussion.

Lastly please remember. A big reason that you still have your account at ML is because of E. I’m certain that E will continue to do the best that she can for you in spite of the bad press that is swirling around ML right now. I am confident that we will eventually put all of this behind us and again will be a better organization for it.

Good to hear from you.


I am not sure I share his optimistic outlook - but HE has been in the business a long time... so I will sit with this a bit and wait and see. I still say we threw Martha Stewart in jail over a few thousands dollars and men like John Thain other executives can play fast and loose and make ridiculous judgments and in some cases commit something that looks an awful lot like fraud and well... it seems like that is going unpunished.

My next class in MBA school is Org. Behavior. Maybe it will shed some light on how those at the top can be so out of touch...or consumed by Mirror Mirror on the Wall, who is the greediest rat bastard of them all....

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