Big Investment Firms Whine About News Coverage

Over the weekend, we noted that, according to a recent poll, Goldman Sach’s reputation is worse than even BP’s. Following that, I caught the tail end of a radio interview over the weekend, where some wire house senior executive (didn’t get the name) was complaining about the negative coverage his firm received in the press.

Really? You think the corporate-owned wimpy US press has been too hard on you? Just because you nearly brought down the entire global economy through your recklessness, then took trillions in taxpayer money as a reward for your irresponsibility, then — instantly — returned to business as usual. Somehow, you think everyone should be going easy on you?

What an ass.

Whenever I hear some shill defending the indefensible, I try to hunt down where the PR campaign began. The best i could come up with was this piece in industry journal Investment News in April — where a reporter mentioned the PR pushback he was getting from the big wire house shops PR departments:

“Apparently, some big firms aren’t thrilled by what we write about them

In response to a request for an interview, InvestmentNews reporters received an e-mail the other day from a public relations person at a wirehouse. The firm’s spokesman wrote that he would “need to be convinced” why it would be in the firm’s best interest to make a senior executive available to InvestmentNews.

According to the spokesman, Investment News has been “consistently hostile to the so-called wirehouses, highlighting every possible negative without much balance.”

If you hostile and negative, try reading the British papers. They aren’t nearly as bought off as the US corporate media is. They have teeth, do real investigations, and basically do not carry water for the biggest firms.

Not only did the big shops help cause the crisis, they proceeded to wallop their clients investments courtesy of their long-only, fully-invested never changing posture. Average investor returns in 2007-08 — down 55%. Average investor returns from 2000-2010 — down 10%.

How date anyone write anything bad about that sort of performance!  Why, you are just being hostile and negative!

Investment News continues:

“About uneven quality: Wirehouses spend a fortune promoting their brands and implying that the Morgan or Merrill experience is of high quality, regardless who delivers it. But in real life, Mr. or Mrs. Investor can wind up dealing with a rookie, a vet, a planner or a product expert. There is no uniformity. Unlike a Ritz Carlton, where the service is stellar from Palm Beach to Palm Springs, the brands Merrill, Morgan, Wachovia and UBS can’t deliver consistency of service. And because those firms are so huge, the quality issue is hard to manage.

As far as impartial advice or sales talk is concerned, consistency is spotty there too. Only when wirehouses adopt a fiduciary standard will I believe that they truly are placing their clients’ interests first. Not that registered investment advisers are perfect — or that fiduciaries can’t be crooks — but the adoption of a business model that puts the client first would be a giant step forward.”

So much for that paper getting much advertising dollars from the wire houses. Which is, as any PR guy would tell you, precisely why they advertise in various outlets. It gives them a giant hammer to wield when things hit the fan and the coverage is — suitably — negative.

Perhaps these large firms should spend more time worrying about why so many events that they are affiliated have been negative — rather than the media coverage of those negative events . . .


Clearing the air about wirehouse news coverage
Investment News, Evan Cooper
April 7, 2010

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