the Coronation Street star charged last week with rape, of a 15 year old in
1967, which he strenuously denies, said in March, to a TV interviewer in New
Zealand, in relation to the Jimmy Saville sex scandal: “If you accept that you
are pure love, and if you know that you are pure love and therefore live that
pure love, these things won’t happen to you.” Asked whether that meant he felt
victims brought abuse upon themselves, he said both no and yes, adding “Everything
that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or
His beliefs in karma, the law of attraction, and pure love are common. They form the basis of what’s known as New Thought and Positive Thinking, which spawned The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, and books such as You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, Ask and it is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks, The Cosmic Ordering Service by Barbel Mohr, and Think and Grow Rich by Norman Vincent Peale, to name a few. Mohr’s book reportedly turned Noel Edmond’s life around.
I understand the tenets of these teachings well, having formally studied, for three years in the 80s, on a one-to-one basis, something called Religious Science and Science of Mind (SOM), which is not to be confused with Scientology. My tutor was Revd. Nona Coxhead, a former student of Charles Barker, who taught Louise Hay.
The ideas propagated by SOM and all New Thought churches and positive thinking gurus is this: You can cure all and have it all; health, wealth and happiness, by using the power of your mind to activate the law of attraction. And crucially, that each of us is here by choice, and that whatever we experience, be it abuse, serious disease or dire poverty, for example, is the direct result of wrong (negative) thinking, in this or a previous life. In other words, if you’re suffering in any way, it’s your own fault. It all starts and ends with you. You are as powerful as God, have the same creative power, but you're living in ignorance of this fact.
So, is it all one giant Ponzi scheme, or is there some truth to what’s being peddled?
As with all
things in life, the devil is in the detail, but there is a GIGANTIC flaw in the
core premise that millions of people keep overlooking (The Secret alone has sold more than 19 million copies): The basis
of positive thinking is, ironically, NEGATIVE! Yes, negative. The notion that we
attract all that befalls us, is a belief rooted in fear and judgement. Positive
thinking zealots are frightened souls desperately trying to eliminate what they
judge to be bad. In short, they lack faith in pure love. Moreover, even if their
theories are true, who’s to say those living in Somalia for example haven't chosen that path to help eradicate fear, by pricking consciences and engendering compassion, rather than because they’re all morons or
were wretches in a past life? I mention similar in my book The Logical Magic of Change which I only wrote because I was
sick and tired of the harm so-called positive thinking was causing. Read enough
reviews – not just the glowingly positive ones - of the books mentioned earlier,
and you will find some very sad stories from people who ended up feeling heaps
worse after failing to attract improvement in their life and affairs. The
disillusionment and anguish of a few was almost palpable.
I do think
the mind is a powerful tool, and based on decades of experience I am a believer
in affirmations as a way to connect with the natural gentle positivity within
each one of us, but we are far more than just our mind. We have an emotional
self, a physical self, and a spiritual self (the source of our core values and
that which acts as our moral compass). The mind is not alone or in sole control.
Perhaps the pure love positive thinking theory is so popular because it enables people to side-step responsibility. If we consider people who are suffering to be to blame for their lot, we don’t have to worry about them, do anything to help them or feel guilty that we have it better. Nor do we need to feel grateful for what comes our way, because we did the work and attracted it. It all adds up to a most convenient faith, which encourages arrogance and greed at the expense of empathy and humility.
The mother of the Boston Bomb suspects, speaking with TV network, Russia Today, was emphatic. No way could her sons be terrorists. She is 100% certain they’ve been set up by the FBI. My older son (Tamerlan, who is now dead) used to tell me everything. Everything. He would never keep anything from me. If there was anyone who would know (he was a jihadist) it would be me. I raised them. I am their mother… …Every second day they call me… Mama, how are you? Mama, we love you. Mama, we miss you… It’s impossible. Impossible…
Mrs Tsarnaeva seems to believe her sons love her so much they would not/could not do anything to hurt her. And there are many parents and adults the world over who subscribe to the same notion; that there’s a connection between love and behaviour; that if a person cares, they will behave a certain way/do certain things/not disappoint, etc.
Mrs Tsarnaeva also apparently encouraged Tamerlan to turn to Islam because she was scared he would get lost in a life dominated by alcohol, girls and drugs.Given that every society encourages conformity and selflessness, to a greater or lesser extent, it’s not surprising individuals mimic the system. But when we coerce and manipulate, whether out of brazen self-interest or fear and panic, to get a person, be it a child, partner, whomever, to act more in our interests than their own, we are taking not just one but many risks.
I’ve never met Chris Huhne nor been interested in his career, but having listened to commentary about his sentence, I indulged in my hobby and constructed his phonetic numerical chart. Phonetic numerology is an ancient art and soft science. It’s a system that enables sound and vibrations to be deciphered, via relationships between letters and numbers, based on the original Semitic alphabets. And the focus of this deciphering is one’s date of birth and full name, as well as one’s short name. While this might sound a bit off the wall, numerology is based on physics; universal laws governing motion, matter and energy, and so not as esoteric as it may appear. Anyway, here’s what I learned.
Chris Huhne’s Life Path is 1, and he was born with what’s called debt 19, and under the initiation of Fire – think baptism by fire. Debt 19 means that in a previous incarnation ego and selfishness ruled, and he put himself first. I learned this much from his date of birth. His names however - Christopher Murray Paul Huhne and Chris Huhne - hold the clues as to why he has found himself in prison.
He is extremely emotional and sensitive, but has suppressed that side of his nature, and tends to ignore it in others, finding it easier to be critical and demanding than understanding.
He also lacks wisdom, and is not much bothered about the concept of truth, and I am not saying this for amusement purposes. He genuinely lacks wisdom. It just isn’t there, in him. He’s not over analytical or reflective, and I doubt he enjoys spending time alone. He hasn’t therefore cultivated a spiritual dimension so to speak. Rather than thinking too deeply about the unseen, such as feelings, he’s kept himself busy. I suspect this is partly due to fear, perhaps of dogma, but also the ease with which he is able/was able to mould people to fit round him, on account of his strong personality.
Chris Huhne has a very strong personality. His chart contains four Master numbers (Master numbers are 11, 22, 33, 44―88). This is a lot. The number 11 appears twice, as does the number 22.
Let me give you an idea of what this means: The energy and influence of the number two impacts pairings, couples, cooperation and balance, inside and out; both inner integration and harmony in relationships. People with twos in prominent positions on their chart tend to be sensitive and as a result secretive, saying one thing while thinking another. The influence of number four involves hard work, organisation, and creating solid foundations; those built on integrity and motivated by deep honesty, so that what gets built is true and enduring.
An eleven vibration is higher than its root number of two (1 + 1). Twenty two is more powerful still, because not only, like eleven, is it a lot more powerful than its root number of 4, it also intensifies the 11 vibration, being twice that number.
We have three choices when it comes to how we use the energy of the numbers that influence our life. We can work a number constructively; listen to our inner voice, and face the pain of shame and embarrassment, and humiliation, etc., in small ways on an on-going basis, in order to grow. Or we can work a number destructively; boast, and blame and bully others when things go wrong. The third option is to deny/ignore a number, by focusing elsewhere, or taking drugs for example to blot out the impact of a number’s influence.
Whatever combination of choices led Chris Huhne to this point, he is now in a good position to capitalise on events, and deal with his baggage. Pardon the pun, but the way I see it, he has gone inside, in order to go inside. Whether he does is up to him, but he now has the opportunity to develop his soul as nature intended. His situation is not as grim as it looks, and I reckon on some level he knows this, and is already working out how he can turn events to his advantage.
He has what’s called an 8 essence. A person’s essence is in short their realised and unrealised potential. Eight equals a love of power, ambition to govern and amass wealth, so he appears to have harnessed the power of eight well. But, 8’s true nature is about balancing the material and the spiritual; using power and wealth kindly and wisely, as well as for enjoyment. His minor essence is 3, which means he’s artistic (his flair for words and public speaking), imaginative, and gifted with the ability to inspire and uplift people. This eight/three combination indicates that he has just the tools he needs to turn his life around.
My conclusion is that Chris Huhne’s future is nowhere near as grim as popular opinion would have it, and that his current predicament could turn out to be a major blessing. As a One Life Path he is a survivor, and could yet rise like a phoenix from the ashes, especially now he’s cleaned the slate.
In line with the Volker rule and the Vickers report, Arnaud Boot and Lev Ratnovski, in their paper The risks of trading by banks (published yesterday on Vox/CEPR) argue for the restriction of trading activities: Without policy action, crises associated with trading by banks are bound to recur. Even strong supervision will not be able to prevent them. Consequently, it appears necessary to restrict trading by banks.
I'm not convinced
imposing restrictions will prevent another major crisis, but what I do
think would help expose a bank in trouble, before its problems get out of control, is the standardisation of static or referential data;
information that never or only very rarely changes.
In early 2010,
FIG (Financial InterGroup) published a paper entitled Infrastructure issues in the securities industry: The case for a
central counterparty for data management. A few extracts:
The importance of reference data systems can be understood by recognizing that all financial transactions are represented as data in information systems. If the data are wrong the transaction does not settle.
The financial industries' clearing and settlement infrastructure similarly has such identifiers for ... However, financial industry reference data that should be standardised and identical across each organisation and across the industry are not. These data are sourced independently, with each financial institution performing duplicative functions in an attempt to represent each unique product, business entity and valuation price identically, but failing to do so. The consequence is that proprietary and conflicting identification codes exist across the entire range of referential data, including such fundamental identifiers as symbols for corporate issuers, symbols used in contract markets, numbering conventions for securities, supply chain business entity identifiers and counterparty identifiers. To compound the problem, clearing and settlement systems operators, other infrastructure facilities and vendors, and even regulators maintain proprietary codes and duplicate sourcing and maintenance functions. Even dates and rates for corporate events and valuation prices for all manner of traded financial instruments are obtained and organised in this manner. Thus, the effect on operating costs and operational risk in faulty data entering clearing and settlement systems is significant. In fact, those infrastructure institutions that operate clearing and settlement systems have capital structures that are, in part, supporting the risk of mismatched transactions caused by faulty data.
It's a long paper, but I urge anyone who cares about the industry to read it, because it is packed with eye opening information and statistics.
Antony Jenkins, Barclays' new CEO, has a long and complex
to-do list, and there are only so many hours in a day. Some quick-wins would not
go amiss. As a consequence, simple, low
profile, bottom up, initiatives are less likely to be on his agenda, but like
pennies they can add up.
For example, making the prompt settlement of invoices raised by small businesses a top priority would demonstrate Barclays truly cares about the little guy and getting the economy moving. In a similar vein, the bank could introduce apprenticeship schemes for people without degrees. Among those working in back office, which is where I started, I imagine there are plenty of honest and highly talented people who would work their socks off and shine brightly given the chance to move on and up. The bank could start slowly; kick off with an easily manageable limit in terms of the number allowed to rise through the ranks in any one year. Such a scheme would widen the talent pool and so demonstrate diversity, and show Barclays is capable of both identifying and nurturing hungry, honest souls. The math side of the business does not require a degree. Going beyond what's legally required in terms of disclosure of compensation also seems a no-brainer to me. Divulging, for example, what the top one percent of earners are paid, by division, department and rank, using simple language and easy to understand figures, wouldn't give much away, yet would demonstrate openness and transparency.
Financial News – Issue 633 – 8th December, 2008.
Note: FN did not include what appears in blue typeface.
Industry needs to draw talent from a wider pool. Talking Point.
Valerie Thompson, Former securities trader, Salomon Brothers.
Could the catastrophic failings of banks be the result of in-breeding and left-brain dominance? I would argue yes.
I’m sure you’re familiar with left versus right brain functions. The left side is analytical, logical, and objective; maths and detailed oriented. The right side uses feeling and intuition to make decisions, and is naturally inclined toward risk taking, due to an innate ability to judge character. Thus, by logical deduction the education system owes its existence to left brain thinking. Moreover, the degrees banks covet are in left-brain subjects, and candidates who achieve ace grades are thus likely to be firmly left brained.
In 1997 (Issue 40) I lamented the demise of back-to-front office progression and banks’ shutting the door on those less schooled in favour of graduates and to boot, graduates from a select few universities. My concern was that without a broad mix the industry could end up digging one enormous grave without anyone noticing.
In September 1998, LTCM (Long Term Capital Management) was on the brink of collapse, due to excesses in leverage, the use of derivatives and off-balance sheet transactions. Sound familiar? With less than $5 billion in equity capital, it managed to borrow $125 billion, and amass off-balance sheet derivative positions with a notional value of $1.25 trillion. The Federal Reserve organised a bail out by LTCM’s major creditors, which included every major house. Only Bear Stearns refused to help. The title of Roger Lowenstein’s book about the fiasco 'When Genius Failed' perfectly describes what happened. LTCM employed 2 Nobel Prize Winners, including Myron Scholes, half the brains behind Black and Scholes option pricing model.
A veteran credit trader at a global firm told me this week that they couldn’t recall any back to front office transfers in over ten years, but said if a desk assistant shows promise they may get onto the training programme. However, even the assistants are degree educated, and this firm only hires from top universities.
Goldman’s website stresses the need for applicants to have demonstrated strong academic performance, but so do the careers sites of all global firms. Credit Suisse boasts respect for differences in gender, age, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability, but not, alas, education. Barclays Capital says ‘if you are graduating from school, university, or have an MBA (or experience; my paraphrase), we are interested in hearing from you.’ Can you graduate from school? BarCap also asserts to ‘reward talent and innovation, rather than position and tenure.’ Is this a carrot or a stick?
Add in ageism, for despite the law we know how it works, and you end up with a group of people of similar age, as well as brain-bias. The fortunes spent on candidate screening seems an indulgence given such tight frames of reference, but maybe the need for extra insurance is also due to a lack of right brained staff.
Much was made of Nick Leesons’ failure of his A level in math, as if passing would somehow have made him honest. No amount of education, even from an ILU, can instil conscience. In fact, a clever crook can cook the books easier than a barrow boy.
I appreciate like attract likes, that birds of a feather stick together and all that, but in the context of bankers and traders who are paid millions and have a duty to shareholders, it strikes me as a staggeringly primitive business model. They might as well wear hoods. London Financial News - Issue 40 - Jan 1997 Firms must mix graduates with potentially more ‘street wise’ recruits, says Valerie Thompson. Any City firm that only hires graduates is running an enormous risk. The current preference for graduates over those less schooled could see the demise of an element that has contributed much to the wealth and character of the City. Since I firmly believe in the 80/20 rule, the majority of people couldn’t make money if their life depended on it. The prosperity of this industry will therefore depend on continually finding that 20%. Why shut the doors on a source of talent that has historically done so much to enrich the world of banking? The main problem is that many firms believe a graduate represents less risk than, for example, a barrow boy. Few firms have the brainpower or courage to assess a person who comes without a written pedigree and label attached. Without a benchmark except personal judgment, who wants to run the risk of hiring a potential Nick Leeson? Do you remember how much was made of the fact that Leeson failed his ‘A’ level mathematics? As if passing, or even getting a first class degree, would have given him that critical sense of responsibility to others, which is so essential to effective trading. Academic achievements are the result of using a bit of one’s intelligence in a particular way, but integrity, which comes from within, is a greater testimony to a person’s character. We use our cerebral cortex to acquire knowledge, but our brain-stem, the source of instinct, feeling, moral fibre and ethical leanings, is what feeds it. It is the depth and quality of these traits that will make or break a person. This is where firms should seek the best, from graduates but also beyond. To restrict the search to graduates, and worse, a select few universities, makes it harder to find that 20% who make money. It also leaves a firm poorly equipped to assess risk and make money. A blend of people from different backgrounds with different perspectives, ideally representative of all generations too, would better ensure opportunities are spotted. This course would provide better insurance when the illogical, irrational and seemingly crazy occurs. Since all markets are ultimately driven by people of all types, the unanticipated and unquantifiable always happens at some point. There is also loyalty to consider. To the scholarly, the average investment bank is nothing out of the ordinary. It is fashionable now to say, if you want loyalty, buy a dog. But for someone who has lived more or less devoid of rules, the comfort and support of an institution that gave him a chance to do well often inspires respect and total devotion. I regret deeply that few firms now allow people to transfer from the back to the front office. Not allowing them to work their way up works against diversity, and financial health.
SCHOLARS VS BARROW BOYS
Scholars concentrate on studying numbers and published knowledge, but the less schooled study human behaviour to better themselves. While a graduate may be able to identify a mathematical anomaly more easily, the instinctive and hungry mind is more able to pick up on the slightest change in inflection or body language, and analyse the less tangible. Having a trading force made up entirely of people of similar thought processes could leave us all digging one enormous grave, and no-one would notice.
We are in danger of being over-bred.Both the scholarly and the less-academic have their merits. Any trading floor should have a mix of both, because markets are driven by both intellect and instinct.
Although markets and certain asset-types can be valueless, relatively speaking, but still go up in price for months, everything is cyclical and markets will continue to shock. Markets and firms are governed by inconsistent ground rules, conflicting agendas, and intense power struggles, played out to cunning and deviousness. Who is better equipped to withstand such chaos and still make money, the graduate or the barrow boy who has overcome financial, emotional and academic deprivation and is more used to adversity?
The meritocracy for which the City was beginning to become renowned is now close to dead.
Investment banks of tomorrow will be plagued by conformity, and populated with the mediocre, incapable of an original thought or money-making idea, to say nothing of courage. ##
London Financial News - Issue 40 - Jan 1997
Firms must mix graduates with potentially more ‘street wise’ recruits, says Valerie Thompson.
Any City firm that only hires graduates is running an enormous risk. The current preference for graduates over those less schooled could see the demise of an element that has contributed much to the wealth and character of the City. Since I firmly believe in the 80/20 rule, the majority of people couldn’t make money if their life depended on it. The prosperity of this industry will therefore depend on continually finding that 20%. Why shut the doors on a source of talent that has historically done so much to enrich the world of banking?
The main problem is that many firms believe a graduate represents less risk than, for example, a barrow boy. Few firms have the brainpower or courage to assess a person who comes without a written pedigree and label attached. Without a benchmark except personal judgment, who wants to run the risk of hiring a potential Nick Leeson? Do you remember how much was made of the fact that Leeson failed his ‘A’ level mathematics? As if passing, or even getting a first class degree, would have given him that critical sense of responsibility to others, which is so essential to effective trading.
Academic achievements are the result of using a bit of one’s intelligence in a particular way, but integrity, which comes from within, is a greater testimony to a person’s character.
We use our cerebral cortex to acquire knowledge, but our brain-stem, the source of instinct, feeling, moral fibre and ethical leanings, is what feeds it. It is the depth and quality of these traits that will make or break a person. This is where firms should seek the best, from graduates but also beyond. To restrict the search to graduates, and worse, a select few universities, makes it harder to find that 20% who make money. It also leaves a firm poorly equipped to assess risk and make money.
A blend of people from different backgrounds with different perspectives, ideally representative of all generations too, would better ensure opportunities are spotted. This course would provide better insurance when the illogical, irrational and seemingly crazy occurs. Since all markets are ultimately driven by people of all types, the unanticipated and unquantifiable always happens at some point.
There is also loyalty to consider. To the scholarly, the average investment bank is nothing out of the ordinary. It is fashionable now to say, if you want loyalty, buy a dog. But for someone who has lived more or less devoid of rules, the comfort and support of an institution that gave him a chance to do well often inspires respect and total devotion.
I regret deeply that few firms now allow people to transfer from the back to the front office. Not allowing them to work their way up works against diversity, and financial health.
July 11th, 2012
I felt Marcus Agius more than deserved the praise he received from the Treasury Select Committee today, for his candour and honesty when giving evidence. He was fully there, and his integrity shone through. He clearly has a moral compass and lives from the inside out. I am not sure Bob Diamond is blessed in the same way, and I am not trying to take a cheap shot here. Marcus Agius just strikes me as a man of faith so to speak; in firm possession of an innate sense of right and wrong which underpins his thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. By contrast Bob Diamond strikes me as a man of non-faith, someone largely dominated by fear and reliant more on the outside world for direction and guidance. If so, it would explain a lot. And make Marcus Agius by far the richest of the two.
July 10th, 2012
That corruption on the part of banks with respect to their Libor submissions ought to have crossed Paul Tucker's mind, as the Treasury Select Committee today suggested, would have required a personality transplant. He’s an economist; skilful at considering behaviours and perspectives without jumping to conclusions, not a trader or a politician for whom cynicism and distrust are permanent states of mind. The TSC also suggested the Bank of England had enough staff to enable Mr Tucker to make notes of all his phone calls during the crisis. We talk about seven times faster than we can write, and to recap a conversation we also need time to consider what’s relevant to log and what isn’t. So if Paul Tucker had taken the time to write up his calls, his accessibility and output would have plummeted. Moreover, had he done so, odds-on his colleagues would have been doing so as well, demonstrating an almost robotic adherence to internal procedures. Given that scenario, I suspect we would have seen headlines to the effect that the BofE was not up to the job, crumbling under the strain even. Imagine the run on banks that would have caused.
2nd July, 2012
I had a dream last night, in which there was an explosion on the floor of a major investment bank, culminating in 17 fatalities. It wasn’t any of the UK’s big four, or my former employer. On May 28th, I dreamed of this same bank, and the focus was on repos, and something called Repo 6, and my role was to explain to some people what Repo 6 meant. I woke up with a sick feeling, thinking, Jesus, I hope we’re not going to see a repeat of Lehman’s Repo 105.
I log my dreams, as they are a rich source of insight, and these two stem from feelings of anger and powerlessness. While I have a good grasp of investment banking, like 99.9% of the population, I am outside of it, and of limited resources, and therefore no match for a rich mob that can buy lawyers, and for whom winning, however unconscionably, is everything.
I’ve walked away from business from bankers because I’ve either sensed or seen what I consider wrong-doing. I’ve also lost business for daring to draw attention to practices rooted in dishonesty. As a single parent at the time, with two children to support, my only option was to opt out. That at least kept me clean. And in most cases, I’ve been vindicated. But that is truly of no comfort whatsoever. The state of banking is a burden on us all.
In my view, when we exploit others for personal gain we impress a stain on the ether; contaminate the atmosphere with negative energy. This accounts for what is known as dark matter, and also explains Karma. To me Karma is not the result of a punitive God, as some religious people believe, but the inevitable outcome of a mistake. And it’s a whopping mistake to exploit the hardworking, trusting, and vulnerable, more so if education is used for the purpose, and more so still, if planned and done knowingly.
A couple of extracts from my novel, Laws of Contrition, a raw and raunchy tale about life on and off the trading floor:
All crimes have their roots in an inability to control one’s impulses,’ she said to Steve, ‘which makes plenty of bankers criminals in my view. And their crimes are all the worse because they knew better and were paid shed-loads to do better. They’ve used their education to exploit the innocent.. ...Morality is a matter of motive, and it’s the quality of motive that defines character. And motive is a matter of choice. And I chose...
Corrupt bankers are breeding anger, cynicism and distrust that will hang in the air for generations. That I don’t believe they can avoid the consequences of their behaviour, however much they might believe otherwise from the vantage point of their cocoons; mansions, bodyguards, close to no engagement with Joe Public, and engineered chat, otherwise known as brainwashing, provided by like-minds to reassure their egos, is small consolation. Their deeds are affecting and infecting us all.
But while I’m appalled by the greed and self preoccupation of some, I am heartened by the actions and behaviour of others, such as Stephen Hester, who I think is doing an excellent job under extremely difficult circumstances, and for a relative pittance.
What needs to be changed to clean up banking already runs to a long list and it’s a list that will undoubtedly change constantly. And whatever clean-up measures are introduced are unlikely to make any meaningful difference, because the industry’s drivers; the bullies and cheats with the gift of the gab and the ability to perform on stage, will continue to use their power and ill-gotten gains to stay one step ahead.
What could however make a difference and could also be implemented right now, this very moment in fact, and by any bank, is the introduction of the age-old basic question; What if everybody did that? If at board level down to department heads and extending to traders of all kinds, this question was considered in respect of any significant action, particularly new actions/decisions and those that don't feel right, the long term impact would invariably be obvious. And therein would lie the guidance necessary to determine whether or not to proceed.
One can but dream!
14th May, 2012
Marcus Agius, Vikram Pandit, and Sergio Ermotti, CEO’s of Barclays, Citigroup, and UBS respectively, have all suffered shareholder outrage over executive pay but, unlike Andrew Moss of Aviva, survived. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is working hard to pacify dissident shareholders ahead of their May 24 AGM, but it may yet be a colourful affair thanks to Greg Smith’s public resignation in the New York Times. Among other things Smith claims a number of Goldman MD’s often referred to clients as Muppets in internal emails. I suspect plenty of shareholders are also clients. Lloyd Blankfein has ordered a trawl for such emails. In the scheme of things, Credit Suisse’s CEO, Brady Dougan, got off lightly at his AGM, although Aziz Syriani, head of the compensation committee came in for some flak, being told he ought to be ashamed of himself. And JPM did even better, thanks to ISS - the influential shareholder advisory firm - endorsing the bank’s pay deals. But I bet Jamie Dimon wishes all he had to worry about now was fending off criticism over compensation. On the heels of Ian Hannam’s resignation (Global Chairman of Equity Capital Markets) following a hefty fine by the FSA for market abuse, Dimon has now lost the services of Ina R. Drew, the 15 million dollar a year Chief Investment Officer, whose London-based underling, Bruno Iskil, notched up a loss in the billions, while apparently seeking to hedge the bank’s exposure using credit default swaps.
So where’s the good news?
Well at least Jamie Dimon has admitted to stupid mistakes and sloppiness in respect of the loss, which in my book needs to be applauded, because too many high ranking bankers lack the courage to admit to failure. This is having a detrimental effect on the reputation of finance and the wellbeing of all those employed by banks, including traders, especially traders in fact, whose actions can have far reaching consequences. Currently there is an addiction to un-reality and glitz in the upper echelons, an aversion to giving people the truth, due to an inability to face it, since it can't be any other way. Yet without the truth, people are left confused, because they know on some level they are being spun a glossy yarn and it conflicts with how they feel because it flies in the face of common sense and insults their intelligence. That breeds cynicism, and can easily lead to recklessness through despair, albeit unconscious. Jamie Dimon may well have been advised by his PR chiefs to take the stance he’s taken, but there’s always a grain of truth in everything a person says, and he’s spoken the words, and in so doing shown some humility. If more bankers followed in his footsteps, and focused more on doing the right thing than for example justifying huge pay packets, the benefits could be massive and massively positive. Ignoring conscience, creates fear, and fear breeds chaos and panic, whereas right now what with all that’s going on in Europe, we need genuine reasons to be calm and realistically hopeful. What Jamie Dimon has done is a big step in the right direction.