ML in a mess again

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Nov 2, 2007 9:43 am

If there is a scandle going on rarely will ML be left out!


They have a hard time staying clean wich is not good for our profession.
 
I explian to clients over and over again why I would refuse to work for ML and the among several  reason's is there morals.
 
 
Nov 2, 2007 11:40 am
Greenbacks:

If there is a scandle going on rarely will ML be left out!


They have a hard time staying clean wich is not good for our profession.
 
I explian to clients over and over again why I would refuse to work for ML and the among several  reason's is there morals.
 
 
 
Please, you were never in danger of being offered a position at ML as the above makes clear. As to "staying clean", would you care to go through the monthly NASD discipline reports and comment on the ethical standards at firms a tier or two below ML?
Nov 2, 2007 8:20 pm

That is a ridiculous statement, to stereotype 16,000 FAs as all being the same way, i.e. lacking morals.  There is far too much turnover among the major firms in our industry to say that one is more lacking in morals than another.  By the way...nice grammar (scandle is spelled "scandal", and "there" does not imply possession--you should have typed "their").  At ML one thing we DO all have in common: a college degree.

Nov 3, 2007 12:03 am

Pretty funny reply. I started at ML 24 years ago and am now indie. I was honored to have been offered a job there.

ML is a great firm, not my cup of tea, but a great firm nonetheless.

Nov 3, 2007 7:11 pm

I do not think anyone here is directly saying the reps are the problem.  BTW some more news:


 
 
 
STOCKGATE TODAY

An online newspaper reporting the issues of Securities Fraud



Merrill Denial exposes Corporate Policy Deficiencies - November 2, 2007

David Patch



It's all over the news; Merrill Lynch is under SEC investigation for possible fraud attributed to questionable deals made with hedge funds where the intent of the arrangements was to delay the reporting of heavy mortgage backed security losses.



While the news first broke through the WSJ the rest of the business media has picked up on the story and has forced Merrill Lynch to respond to the allegations.



In a carefully crafted release Merrill Lynch states, "We have no reason to believe that any such inappropriate transactions occurred. Such transactions would clearly violate Merrill Lynch policy."



This should bring confidence to all investors who hold long the Merrill Lynch stock. The allegations can't be true because corporate policy bans this behavior.



But wait a minute, now that I read the comments I am not so sure that what Merrill is reporting is exactly accurate, or worse. It does not actually state that Merrill did not engage in such acts, it simply says the Company does not believe the allegations could be true because to do so would imply that a rogue within the company violated company policies.



Of course, nobody breaks Merrill company policy correct?



So I ponder, was it accepted company policy to put out false research reports in order to pump garbage stocks to the public so the firm could offload their positions? Certainly by participating in the $1.4 Billion Global Settlement with the SEC, NASD, and NY Attorney General Merrill accepted responsibility for engaging in deceptive practices.



I am also wondering if it was accepted company practice to allow hedge funds to come through the Merrill Lynch trade desks and engage in market timing/late trading of mutual funds. Merrill settled for $13.5 Million in 2005 on charges of fraud associated with the illegal practice. By all accounts however the Merrill policies must not have credited this as being illegal since Merrill today claims policy violations do not occur at the firm.



And of course there was barge-gate of 1999 where Merrill had purchased an interest in several Nigerian barges that Enron owned but could not sell. The purchase was later exposed as accounting fraud as the barges were repurchased six months later by an Enron controlled entity at a prearranged price. The purpose of the sale was to simply take the barge liabilities off the books of Enron for a prearranged period of time. Several Merrill brokers were convicted in the fraud scheme but the convictions were later overturned. The overturned convictions do not dismiss the fact that Merrill was involved in what turned out to be a fraud scheme.



So I ask again, is the statement that the allegations now surfacing regarding Merrill's attempts at diverting losses off the books a matter of company policy violations or is it that company policies are riddled with holes that allows for fraud to exist and go undetected at the firm?



Some at Merrill should be concerned, as this matter is only one degree of freedom removed from similar efforts undertaken by former Refco CEO Phillip Bennett.



Recall, Bennett was caught moving bad debt off the books of Refco through a scheme using a hedge fund as well. Bennett, unlike Merrill, moved the debt off the books regularly as each quarterly filing was come due.



In the Refco scheme Bennett arranged at the end of every quarter for a Refco subsidiary to lend money, upwards of$430 Million in bad debt money, to a hedge fund called Liberty Corner Capital Strategy, which then lent the money to Refco Group Holdings. Bennett's company then paid the money back to Refco, leaving Liberty as the apparent borrower when financial statements were prepared. The scheme erased the debt from the books of Refco.



If true, the parallels to the Merrill scheme are eerily similar.



According to the Wall Street Journal, Merrill was removing the uncertainty in losses relating to certain mortgage backed securities by selling the commercial paper to hedge funds. The risk to the Hedge Fund through the purchase of this paper was eliminated through contract terms where Merrill would repurchase the paper one year later at a guaranteed minimum price. The result of this shell game would allow Merrill to delay the losses associated with the commercial paper had they carried the paper on the books and had difficulties selling the paper to other investors.



With all this insight before us we still are left to ponder, Is Merrill's compliance operations failing to enforce company policy or are Merrill's Company policies flexible enough that fraud can be excercised without compliance detection?



Blue Plate Special: To understand more about Wall Street, Regulators, and the financial media go to www.Deepcapturethemovie.com to view a Presentation made last month at the 2007 PIPE's Conference held by DealFlowMedia.com in New York City .







For more on this issue please visit the Host site at www.investigatethesec.com

Copyright 2007
Nov 4, 2007 5:12 pm

If you cant join them..bash them on a message board

Nov 4, 2007 7:52 pm
Greenbacks:

If there is a scandle (SCANDAL) going on rarely will ML be left out!

They have a hard time staying clean wich (WHICH) is not good for our profession.
 
I explian (ok, I'll forgive this one) to clients over and over again why I would refuse to work for ML and the among several  reason's (REASONS) is there (THEIR) morals.



No worries chief, you must be able to write in English to work at a top tier firm, especially the world's largest, most profitable, wealth management firm.

Nov 5, 2007 11:11 am

I beleive it is the firms that lack morals not the reps!


But also some of the reps just do not know any better.
 
It reminds me of the slaves in the civil war who fought against the Yankees because there owners told them to. 
The sad thing is they thought they where doing the right thing.
The world needs sheep and ditch diggers.
So keep on listening to your firm and some day you to will recieve a Gold watch.
 
Nov 6, 2007 9:04 am

I just find it in poor taste to bash a firm.  Sure Merrill had writedowns, and it looks like they may have cut some side deals to try and keep valuations high.  But this isn't any different than most other firms in this arena.  Look at Goldman, everyone questions whether their reported profits are real since so much of it is based on their own estimates of what their stuff is worth.  All firms in this area had writedowns, everyone's made mistakes.  I see this as just really aggressive business practices.  they're all trying to make shareholders money, so they all piled onto the bandwagon and unfortunately they're all getting burned now.  I guess I fail to see how Merrill is any worse than say Citi or Morgan Stanley, or Bear, etc.

Nov 6, 2007 9:14 am
shadow191:

I just find it in poor taste to bash a firm.  Sure Merrill had writedowns, and it looks like they may have cut some side deals to try and keep valuations high.  But this isn't any different than most other firms in this arena.  Look at Goldman, everyone questions whether their reported profits are real since so much of it is based on their own estimates of what their stuff is worth.  All firms in this area had writedowns, everyone's made mistakes.  I see this as just really aggressive business practices.  they're all trying to make shareholders money, so they all piled onto the bandwagon and unfortunately they're all getting burned now.  I guess I fail to see how Merrill is any worse than say Citi or Morgan Stanley, or Bear, etc.



Maybe poor taste, but often accurate.  Merrill has a long tradition of 'aggressive business practices' yet they put themselves forth to the public as being a notch above other firms.

Nov 6, 2007 9:28 am

Sedona, not to nitpick.  But I don't think Merrill is the largest wealth management firm in the world.  I'm pretty sure they're just the largest here in the U.S.

Nov 6, 2007 9:37 am

I find the whole "holier than thou" argument, especially when down in broken English by someone obviously harboring an inferiority complex, to be laughable.  I’m not talking bucket shops that force-feed inappropriate products to the unsophisticated, but those who want to make an issue about ethnics among top tier firms.<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


 


I’ve offered it before, but anyone willing to defend the “my segment of the industry inhabits a higher moral plain than yours” logic is invited to peruse the NASD monthly disciplinary filings. Perhaps we could do it as a group. The best horror stories of client abuse seem to come from the same segement over and over again....


Nov 6, 2007 9:59 am
I would have to agree with you on that.  I bothers me when I constantly see people in our business denigrate an entire segment for ethics or whatever due to a few bad apples.  And to feel morally superior because of it is laughable, reminds me of that old people in glass houses quote.
 
I work in a wirehouse, I like it here and think I have a pretty sweet deal.  But I would never start bashing any of the other top tier firms because situations change and you never know when you might have to make a move.
 
mikebutler222:

I find the whole "holier than thou" argument, especially when down in broken English by someone obviously harboring an inferiority complex, to be laughable.  I’m not talking bucket shops that force-feed inappropriate products to the unsophisticated, but those who want to make an issue about ethnics among top tier firms.<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


 


I’ve offered it before, but anyone willing to defend the “my segment of the industry inhabits a higher moral plain than yours” logic is invited to peruse the NASD monthly disciplinary filings. Perhaps we could do it as a group. The best horror stories of client abuse seem to come from the same segement over and over again....


Nov 7, 2007 10:09 am

In that article, Enron Barges were mentioned.   Has anyone seen "The Smartest Guys in the Room"?  (I think that's the title).

Nov 7, 2007 9:23 pm

Folks, let's keep in mind that companies are a collection of people (especially in financials). To question the morality of Merrill, Morgan, etc is to assume the majority of employees are immoral.

Let's keep in mind that Merrill, Morgan, Citi, etc lost COMPANY money, NOT clients'. Maybe the Series 6 or 65-only reps are not used to trading, but when you trade, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Wall St firms have been reporting record profits for a couple of years now, and I didn't hear anyone call profit-making immoral.

What would you have Wall St firms do with their cash? Buy US Treasuries? In a rapidly depreciating currency?

Nov 8, 2007 11:58 am

Sedona

It is not about the firms losing money. It is about ML trying to defer the loss illegally according to the SEC. 
As far as the reps are concerned I believe most of them  try to do the right thing for the firms clients.
But the rep can only do what the firm wants them to do. If push comes to shove the client and the rep will lose and the firm will win.
This has been proven time after time.
Everyone of us makes mistakes but when you are being  lied to or forced to do the wrong thing, from your employer you will then understand why reps leave wirehouses.
You will also get tired of explaining the bad press your firm recieves to the firms clients.        
Nov 8, 2007 7:58 pm
Greenbacks:
Everyone of us makes mistakes but when you are being  lied to or forced to do the wrong thing, from your employer you will then understand why reps leave wirehouses.
       
 
I don't think you have the slightest idea what you're talking about.
Nov 8, 2007 10:28 pm
shadow191:

Sedona, not to nitpick.  But I don't think Merrill is the largest wealth management firm in the world.  I'm pretty sure they're just the largest here in the U.S.


For now...we will see for how much longer that will last though!

Nov 9, 2007 9:49 am
mikebutler222:
Greenbacks:
Everyone of us makes mistakes but when you are being  lied to or forced to do the wrong thing, from your employer you will then understand why reps leave wirehouses.
       
 
I don't think you have the slightest idea what you're talking about.
 
Mike
That is why you are still at a wirehouse. You have not figured it out yet.  
 
Nov 9, 2007 1:18 pm
Greenbacks:
mikebutler222:
Greenbacks:
Everyone of us makes mistakes but when you are being  lied to or forced to do the wrong thing, from your employer you will then understand why reps leave wirehouses.
       
 
I don't think you have the slightest idea what you're talking about.
 
Mike
That is why you are still at a wirehouse. You have not figured it out yet.  
 
 

<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> 


I don't know what you think you know about life at a wirehouse, but based on your obsessively repeated, ill-informed and illiterate rants about life there, I can only assume you're either someone who washed out at one or you’re simply a jealous competitor repeating self-serving gibberish you’ve heard.


 


There are plenty of valid reasons for people to leave a wirehouse for other platforms, but your constant yammering about a supposed lack of ethics being forced on reps there is just nonsense.