Corporate Greed

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Jan 20, 2006 9:15 pm

Is it just me or does it seem like corporations are becoming very greedy, I wonder has it always been like this?


I could go on and on with examples in and out of our industries, but it just seems like it's in high gear.

Jan 21, 2006 1:58 am

You work at a bank and you have to ask this question?


Forget your payout.  Look around.  Look at the other departments.  Don't the department goals increase by 18% each year?  Profits increase by a similar amount.  Do salaries keep up?  No.  So, the profit margin widens.  Do the departmental goals even adjust downwards like the stock market?  No.  Why is that?  Greed.

Jan 21, 2006 9:39 am

Dewey,


I don't work for a bank anymore, I switched to a credit union several years ago. I am not just talking in our world I am talking everywhere, prospects I talk with are not getting matching on their 401K because it's frozen at the moment because the company is not making money.  These are companies that used to have defined benefit pensions.


This is just one example.


Jan 21, 2006 9:53 am

My firm (ML) cut its match on the ESOP a couple years back. 



But when I really look at it, they invested a ton of money in tools
that help us a great deal.  The pay-outs have been adjusted, but
they seem to reward the reps who bring in new business and produce well
(with bonus 2005 pay-out exceeded 50% for our group).  The Def
Comp has been loosened up from 10 years to 8 and our stock price has
nearly doubled since 2003.  At the local level, our office pays
for several high end seminars throughout the year, plus they paid for
us to fly a client our to New York to meet with the investment banking
group.



I have several beefs with the firm, but as far as building personal wealth for my family and me?  No beef.

Jan 21, 2006 9:59 am
Dewey Cheatham:

You work at a bank and you have to ask this question?


Forget your payout.  Look around.  Look at the other
departments.  Don't the department goals increase by 18% each
year?  Profits increase by a similar amount.  Do salaries
keep up?  No.  So, the profit margin widens.  Do the
departmental goals even adjust downwards like the stock market? 
No.  Why is that?  Greed.





This was true at the bank I used to work for, however each employee got
an annual bonus in their 401(k)/PS based on the firms ROE and a few
other metrics.  This resulted in several thousand dollars for
several years and the bank performed well.  This coupled with the
stock price appreciation allowed for the employees to participate in
this "Greed".  Unfortunately the vast majority of the employees
chose not to participate in such programs, which both sad and poor
finacial planning.

Jan 21, 2006 11:30 am

I wonder has it always been like this?


Yes. The corporations are greedy. The employees of the corporation are greedy.


And if you own the stock of the greedy corporation you are perfectly happy.

Jan 21, 2006 11:41 am
babbling looney:

I wonder has it always been like this?


Yes. The corporations are greedy. The employees of the corporation are greedy.


And if you own the stock of the greedy corporation you are perfectly happy.



It is the very essence of our free-enterprise system that you and blarm and others describe above.  Having said that, my concern would be that the focus on short term results and constant growth at any cost has swung to an extreme in the last few years, and the 'bursting of the bubble' in the early part of the decade did little to temper that myopic mindset.  Philosophically, I think that sometimes a businessman(or woman) has to focus on the quality of his work product, watch costs carefully and over time growth has a way of taking care of itself.  This was how I felt things were run at the "old AGEdwards when I was there, and it is something I missed.


Blarm-it is good that you are happy, and MER does have some good tools and benefits.  Ironic, too, though that you comment about how well the stock has performed and of course they have just reported fantastic earnings for the quarter.  I always said that participating in my firms ESOP was the best way to protect myself if I ever felt presently or in the future I was getting shanked by cost cutting or poor payouts.  Over the years it did indeed serve me well at two different publicly traded firms.  My time at Merrill as a rookie and registered assistant was too short to gain any advantage from it.  As many of you know, I eventually decided on a change in venue that offered me greater control over my costs and thus my net(hopefully that reference was subtle enough I won't get chastised for it this time).  It has been a good change for me, but it is not perfect nor is it for everybody.


Point being, that when my office mates would complain to me that the firm had cut payout on a product line or raised thresholds on the grid or the bonus plan, or wouldn't pay for a marketing project, I would always ask them-"Do you participate in the stock purchase plan?"  So very often many of them would reply in the negative.  I would then suggest they consider ownership in the firm as a way of compensating any shortfalls they perceived from being employees, but they were too short-sighted to get it.


Hmmm...short sighted perspective....we're back to that again.


The longer I'm involved in picking stocks for my clients, the more I am excited when I find companies where the stock price may have suffered because they had a 'light' quarter because they were doing what it took to be hugely succesful in the future.  It's rare to find those.

Jan 21, 2006 11:56 am

Here is another example:


I just closed a business account at 5/3 rd bank.  They charged me $50 to close the account.  It was a totally free business checking.


I asked the manager, " do you think I will ever come back and do business with your company since your charging me a fee to close an account I no longer need?"


She replied " That is your decision". $50 is not alot of money to me, but the idea of "free" being charged a $50 fee to close the account and I seen $3 fees several other times makes me angry...


Does anybody do business like I do.  Do what is in the best interest of your client and over time you will be rewarded?

Jan 21, 2006 12:24 pm

Joe,


I'm 100% on board with your philosophies.   There are way too many short sighted people on this big blue marble.


While I don't recommend individual stocks to my clients, when I do pick stocks to buy and hold for myself I try to choose those companies which "get it".   


Specifically those with the best reputations for treating their employees well and those with the best customer service.   IMO those have the biggest impact on the bottom line when they trickle down.


scrim

Jan 21, 2006 1:32 pm
bankrep1:

Here is another example:


I just closed a business account at 5/3 rd bank.  They charged me $50 to close the account.  It was a totally free business checking.


I asked the manager, " do you think I will ever come back and do business with your company since your charging me a fee to close an account I no longer need?"


She replied " That is your decision". $50 is not alot of money to me, but the idea of "free" being charged a $50 fee to close the account and I seen $3 fees several other times makes me angry...


Does anybody do business like I do.  Do what is in the best interest of your client and over time you will be rewarded?



yes.


and those very kind of 'screw you we're too big to care' nuisance fees really make me crazy!

Jan 21, 2006 4:24 pm
bankrep1:

Here is another example:


I just closed a business account at 5/3 rd bank.  They charged me $50 to close the account.  It was a totally free business checking.


I asked the manager, " do you think I will ever come back and do business with your company since your charging me a fee to close an account I no longer need?"


She replied " That is your decision". $50 is not alot of money to me, but the idea of "free" being charged a $50 fee to close the account and I seen $3 fees several other times makes me angry...


Does anybody do business like I do.  Do what is in the best interest of your client and over time you will be rewarded?



I can even do you one better. I had a client when I was at the bank and he was charged some "misc" fees in his business account. He called be because he didnt like the bankers at the time. I checked into it for him and found out the fees where most nickel and dime stuff for processing issues, like hard to read micr lines on checks.


He and I both thought the fees were silly. He asked for a list of the fees so he knew what he would be charged for. I spoke with the branch manager, small business officer, commercial loan officer and finally a full VP to get list of the fees. The VP told me there was no list. I asked how can I relay the what the client will be charged for. The VP said we dont disclose this information because these were charges, not fees. The guy wasnt initally angry, he just wanted to know what he was being charge for. Well, after my explanation he was livid.


Now that is blind greed to the Nth degree!!!!! After all of this, their stock is still in the crapper.


There is a guy a lot of us have chatted with that says, "Begin with the end in mind." I dont agree with everything he says or does, but I think this rings true. I know if I work hard, smart and ethically I will be rewarded down the road. I think a lot of companies, people, brokers have lost the idea of earning your stripes and just want to a higher stock price or more money right now. You have to earn it!

Jan 21, 2006 4:38 pm

true true giff.


too bad that guy didn't seem to follow his own advice....

Jan 21, 2006 6:41 pm

whose that

Jan 21, 2006 7:23 pm

bankrep1:

Here is another example:


I just closed a business account at 5/3 rd bank.  They charged me $50 to close the account.  It was a totally free business checking.


I asked the manager, " do you think I will ever come back and do business with your company since your charging me a fee to close an account I no longer need?"


---------------------------------


Maybe I'm missing something. Because it was totally free, couldn't you have simply drawn the account down to a balance of .01 cent and forgotten about it (saving yourself $50)?

Jan 21, 2006 10:17 pm

I was told if I wrote a check and the account went negative I would be put on Check Systems, which is like a credit report all banks use. 

Jan 22, 2006 10:09 am

Nothing is free.  Remember OLDE Discount in the early
1990's?  "FREE TRADES" were the rage, but only on the stocks they
portfolioed, and the reps that sold the service and the stocks were
collecting as much as 8 points on each "FREE" trade.  Keep your
eyes open for petes sake.



See everything for what it is, and expend your energy finding a way to make it work for YOU.  Anything else is a waste.

Jan 22, 2006 7:41 pm

bankrep1:

I was told if I wrote a check and the account went negative I would be put on Check Systems, which is like a credit report all banks use. 


-----------------------------------------------


"Chek" Systems is only a factor if you run a negative balance and fail to deposit enough money to make it positive. Reporting you to Chek Systems only happens after numerous attempts, by the bank, to collect from you. Still, a totally free account, with no outstanding checks, and a .01 cent balance should not incur any charges to drop the balance into negative territory.


A second option is to call and claim you lost your checkbook, giving the bank a list of legitimate, uncleared check numbers (if any) to allow to clear through. (Make sure you draw down the balance as low as possible.) The bank will allow only those uncleared, authorized checks to clear, then probably close the account. Then you just never go back in to the bank to re-open another account.


Also, another option is to literally "pitch a fit" in the branch. Yes, you read right, "pitch a fit". (I used to be a bank branch manager umteen years ago.) No manager wants a demonstrative, dissatisfied customer in their branch during business hours. It's embarassing to the staff and the other customers. A manager will do whatever is necessary to get that type of customer out of the bank, including agreeing to waive the $50 closing fee.


Moreover, threatening to write a letter to the president of the bank, FDIC, etc. will also get you your desired result. No manager wants his boss on his back for a lousy $50.

Jan 22, 2006 9:22 pm

I just don't care about $50 that much, but thanks.  My point was that corporations seem to have this attitude, we'lll screw everyone any way to make a profit.


I wonder if it's always been like this.  I would think trying to make/keep your customer or potential customer happy should be a goal, but I find more evidence to the contrary

Jan 22, 2006 10:47 pm

"Blarm-it is good that you are happy, and MER does have some good tools and benefits"


JoEDaMan- you got the wrong guy. I wasnt talking about ML's stock or ESOP plan. Although I will be participating in the next month or two... Its hilarious- old dinosaurs in our office are NOTICELABLY more happy on days when MER goes uo a point or two.... All those 10's of thousands of stock they own makes for a nicer retirement....

Jan 23, 2006 1:18 am

My firm charges $5 if we want to send a check to client.  $5 to get their own money!  I can't believe it.