Regulating You Stresses Them Out
After months of trying to fill the position, the SEC hired a psychologist this summer to help boost flagging morale. It seems to have worked. A report by the Government Accountability Office early in the year showed that more than one-third of the organization felt morale within their division or office was low. But more recently the SEC was ranked fifth within the federal government in a study titled “2005 Best Places to Work” conducted by the Partnership for Public Service and U.S News and World Report.
Amalgamated Antimatter Anyone?
In July, after several months of deliberations and input from all 18,000 of its employees, the recently spun-off American Express Financial Advisors selected its now familiar new name: Ameriprise. Apparently that was better than some of the other names the company trademarked but left on the slush pile (See above). It's hard to find words that are not trademarked these days, so many companies are stuck inventing new ones, explained one branding executive.
How About a Bull-Market Rain Dance?
Commonwealth Financial hosted a conference at the Sundance Resort in Utah this summer for its advisors. It included a competition to see who could write the best directions to build a teepee. Shortly afterwards, the company was named the best place to work in Massachusetts by The Boston Business Journal.
Reps Have a Bad Rep
According to a Harris poll conducted in August, 2005, stockbrokers finished dead last in prestige when ranked against 21 other professions. But hey, we're not gloating. Journalists came in 19th place. Firemen and scientists tied for first.
Not So Hot Stock Tip
This summer, a pair of pump-and-dumpers impersonated a financial advisor, faxing handwritten stock tips ostensibly meant for a fictional client to 153,000 fax machines. “We need to buy AVLL now,” says the first of four faxes, promising that the value of the stock would “Tripple”. Enough investors believed the tips were for real that shares of AVLL soared, and the alleged stock scammer was able to collect several hundred thousand dollars on their sale. Moral of the story: Don't take stock tips from bad spellers.
At These Prices, Why Stay?
A lot can change in a month. At the beginning of June 2005, Philip Purcell was the CEO of Morgan Stanley. Shareholders called the “Group Of Eight” were calling for his head, but things weren't so bad, not yet. He was still making $22 million a year and was backed by a board packed with allies who swore they'd stick by him.
Well, the board had a little change of heart. By the end of the month, Purcell was out, and his old foe John Mack was in. So, it was a bad month for Purcell? Not really. The guy no longer has eight angry men breathing down his neck, and he received an exit package totaling upwards of $113 million. Yeah, we'd “quit” too.
SEC's Cox Asks: How Do You Go To The Bathroom?
In his first speech before the securities industry at the November Securities Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Fla., new SEC Chairman Christopher Cox invoked a somewhat unconventional — even odd — theme to underscore his point about the need for his SEC to pay careful attention to detail when crafting new regulations. His repeated chorus was: How do you go to the bathroom?
Cox told the story of Project Mercury, in which space engineers failed to consider the possibility that astronaut Alan Shepard might need to urinate during his scheduled 15-minute space flight in 1961. Due to a delayed takeoff, Shepard had to go in his spacesuit. As a result, the “urine-soaked” monitors in the suit, as Cox described them, weren't able to measure his bodily functions in space. It's a silly mistake, as Cox pointed out: Children always ask astronauts, “How do you go to the bathroom?” When implementing new regulations, the SEC staff has an interesting new battle cry.
Will Leitch is a former editor at Registered Rep. and now edits the sports Web site Deadspin.com.