Thursday, January 28, 2010

(No.76) The financial services accountability deficit, Fox News & other emails to RickardsRead

I receive emails in response to my columns on various subjects including financial services and business issues generally. Some of my correspondents are known to me, some are not. To date I have published several columns of excerpts from selected emails (see column nos. 63,64,65 & 74 in RickardsRead.com ).

In the column below I have selected excerpts from emails sent in response to my columns. For reasons of privacy I have (except where noted) withheld the writers' identities. However in order to provide some context for the views expressed I have preceded each email with a brief reference to the writer's role or business connections.

Words within square [brackets] and italics are mine.

***************************************

The accountability and moral deficits in financial services
re column No.75 "Financial services deficits: a screed -- Part 1"

1. from a financial planner employed in the financial services business:

WONDERFUL. And it will fall, unfortunately, on ears that are incapable of making any connection between themselves and the problem. Just as 'might makes right' was used in other contexts, 'profit makes right' seems to govern corporate boards and those who serve them and more particularly 'year-end profits make right'. Especially for stock options.

2. from a former senior executive in a Canadian stock life insurance company:

No. 75 dead on!! Congratulations.

3. from a lawyer involved with financial services:

Absolutely loved this one and I am passing on to one of my [clients] most interested in ethics. She will love your read.

4. from a former life insurance industry executive:

I look forward to Part 2 (3, 4 ?). It is remarkable how the well intended publishing of executive incomes has in part led to an escalation of executive income based on the notion of not losing the execs to competitors over income. In other words the collective Boards [of directors] are now being compared to the actions of the weakest and least effective Board and the income/incentive program they were willing to put in place.

It seems to me that we have an ongoing escalation of exec incomes tied to everyone wanting to be at least at the mean and the few who have a 'pay top quartile' philosophy.

5. from an executive with a life insurance company in Canada:

Further to your blog ... [No.75] ... let's take a guy like [industry executive, name deleted] who was an absolute failure ... and put him in charge [of people who] had zero respect for him.

6. from an experienced financial services executive:

I can't wait for Part 2!!!!

7. from a person of long experience in life insurance agency management:

I have enjoyed all of your articles and see the zeal has not left.

Fox News pro and con
re column no. 66 "Wankers, wingnuts & Fox News"

1. from a Canadian, another person with long experience in life insurance agency management:

Sorry, I'm a Fox fan and believe they are on the mark more often than not. I also disagree with your views on medicare. Free enterprise rocks and the free-er the better.

No politicians have been stellar for a long time. Despite his faults Ronald Reagan was likely the best in my lifetime (and that is the best of a bad lot) but Obama is also the worst of that same lot, and a truly dangerous man.

2. from a Canadian businessman not in financial services:

Thanks for the well-written critique of Fox. I can't stomach watching Fox when I surf across it when visiting the U.S. I find the politics and screwed-up thinking of about 50% of the population in the U.S. very scary.

3. from a retired executive:

Thanks for introducing me to "plinth" and "codswallop".

The author of The Little Book
re column No. 67 "Freud, Buddy Holly & 1897 Vienna"

from Selden Edwards, author of the novel The Little Book:

I read this morning your delightful review of THE LITTLE BOOK. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about it, and in such an interesting way. It is difficult to figure out how much references like yours impact the "word of mouth" phenomenon in the book world but it is fun and heartening to see them. Yours is one of the best. I loved reading your take on my book and your involvement with fin de siecle Vienna.

*************************************************


Alastair Rickard

RickardsRead.com

email: Alastair.Rickard@sympatico.ca