Post of the Day
July 16, 1998

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Women and Investing Folder

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Subject: consolidation doggerel
Author: laopera

Today, in LA sunshine hot and bright, I am sitting in my office thirteen floors (my trisaidekaphobia notwithstanding) above Figueroa Street reading two things: one, a memo from my boss's boss, the bank's Vice Chairman; another, the W&I thread on consolidation, begun in earnest concern by ATV and anticlimaxing in, well, mere doggerel. Somewhere between the two--the hard reality of the Vice Chair's memo and the cybermoans about banking--is the truth; because the truth is always in between.

The Fools weigh in: banks are distant and detached, the service is terrible, the bigger the worse, credit unions (credit unions? to my mind a notch above dry cleaners) are better at serving us, etc. I wonder if anyone realizes that Glass Steagall has had a Berlin Wall like collapse and now banks are competing with big interstate banks. I wonder if anyone notices that the baby boom has warmed up to Wall Street with their surplus cash, sometimes as much as 85% of it (stodgy Credit Suisse says you need only 15% liquidity in this market!),
  "Yes. After so many changes, those might be the key words: "motivate some." Who is left to motivate? Who could endure such a post-Dilbertian environment and remain motivated? Am I not supposed to think by this point that the survivors are mere inmates?"
and that means that Banks, though growing like everything else, are holding a much lower share of your wallets and purses than they held of your parents' wallets and handbags. And I wonder if anyone notices that, in just about every other facet of their lives, they prefer home delivery, but when the product is printed notes and specie people still--ever?--prefer a live transaction inside of very hideously expensive-to-maintain, air-conditioned bricks&mortar bank. And I finally wonder if people know that what used to be an 80/20 rule (eighty percent of your customers are unprofitable, 20% are profitable) is now more like 89/11.

Think of what kind of service dry cleaners would provide if 89% of their customers were unprofitable! You'd have to run a tuxedo shop or be a window dresser to get your clothes back on a hangar...

But then. Then I read my Vice Chair's memo. First off, it is spun from gold (I am a bit immodest to say that everyone who read it initially thought I wrote it, for it was so close to my own wordsmithing...but I did not). At any rate, my Vice Chair, who could not pick me out of a crowd of four but has sent me a memo anyway, has spent a lot of the Bank's $450/Arthur Andersen consulting hours putting this thing together with someone...

What is coming is my fifth boss in nineteen months...and I am oddly relieved...at least no "efficiencies improved" (layoffs) again...

"An altered climate will present both a new competitive paradign as well as new challenges..."

"This will come as no great surprise, but it does entail a degree of change that will excite and motivate some, and generate anxiety and concern amongst others..."

Yes. After so many changes, those might be the key words: "motivate some." Who is left to motivate? Who could endure such a post-Dilbertian environment and remain motivated? Am I not supposed to think by this point that the survivors are mere inmates?

"...you need to take one first step of a hint of a whiff of action towards making your employees feel like they're not idiots for checking out of this career entirely..."  

So the truth might be in between. You customers of banks, you need to know that you aren't warming up to the delivery channels that the banks want to extend to you to make you easier to process. You need to bank on the internet or online. You need to take $300 out of the ATM once a week, rather than $40 every day. You need to NEVER bounce a check EVER. And if you are determined to stay in love with the bricks&mortar so much, then you need to think about what it does to your lifelong bank to grab a cheapo out-of-state mortgage that will change compainies four times by the time of your second, and if its worth it to pay your state a fine every time. Not to mention your 4.9 out of state Visa which turns to 26% in six months if you're not careful. You seem to still think that the bank is not a private business, but a public utility...

And you, bank Chairs and Vice Chairs, who lay a thousand stresses on already overstressed employees who feel at the end of their ropes, and who outsource with impunity, you need to take one first step of a hint of a whiff of action towards making your employees feel like they're not idiots for checking out of this career entirely and living in a truck in Baja for the rest of their lives...

"@$#%" I relapse. "I'm just a marketing wordsmith who studied art in college. Why should I care how the chips fall this or even the next time? I'm going downstairs for an iced cappucino." Stepping on the elevator, I see that it says "12" even though I'm on 13. "Jeez," I moan to other polite non-smokers descending, "if we can't get the elevators right, how can we ever get the Y2K thing done..."


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