Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan is trying to use the good work of the bank’s everyday employees to mask the stench emanating from the actions of executives in his company and up and down Wall Street.
Never mind that about 30,000 of those employees Moynihan is using to deflect criticism will be staring at pink slips. Part of Moynihan’s master plan to steady the bank is to get rid of thousands of employees, the type of move that has over the past few decades earned top executives plaudits from other executives and corporate analysts, as well as multi-million-dollar bonuses that pad already-bloated salaries and other perks.
Screw up at the top, harm the entire corporation, push the brunt of the consequences off on those at the bottom and onto taxpayers, and, in a flash, in Wall Street-speak, you are courageous and bold and not afraid to make the tough decisions.
Moynihan recently said he was irate that so many people were harping about the bank, including customers who are upset that they will soon be charged $5 a month for the right to access their own money with debit cards. The bank is doing that because new financial regulations make it more difficult for banks such as Moynihan’s to continue tricking their customers into paying fees that inflated the bank’s bottom line, and curtails the ability of financial corporations to participate in the Vegas-style risk-taking that almost brought on a second Great Depression.
“I, like you, get a little incensed when you think about how much good all of you do, whether it’s volunteer hours, charitable giving we do, serving clients and customers as well,” he told employees during a global town hall meeting before saying this to critics: “You ought to think a little about that before you start yelling at us.”
I get incensed when the head of the bank I’ve been with for about 15 years has such a tin ear he can’t understand why Americans would be angry for having to fork over $91.4 billion, according to Bloomberg News, to help his bank survive self-inflicted wounds, then have lobbyists on behalf of that bank and others work tirelessly to prevent reforms that would make it less likely that further bailouts would be necessary.
I get incensed when I think about the reason I’ve remained with the bank. I knew former Bank of America executive Joe Martin.
He came up with the logo design for what was then NationsBank. He was a fellow Davidson College graduate, finishing about 3 decades before I arrived at the school. I got to know him shortly after I graduated.
He was integrity-filled and made it a point to lend to people – like me – who had little income or assets but potential, just because he felt it was the right thing to do, to give back.
ALS took his life a few years ago, but he’s the type of executive I’ve long admired and is the reason I haven’t dumped Bank of America even when I had to fight the bank over misapplied late fees and other such things common among Goliath banks that so grate on me.
I don’t know if Moynihan is anything like Martin. I’ve never met Moynihan.
But from what I’ve seen from afar, I haven’t been impressed. I see little gratitude expressed to the taxpayers of this country who pulled his company back from the brink. I’ve heard him speak out against sensible mortgage rescue programs that would help struggling homeowners remain in their homes or ease the pressure on homeowners who made wise decisions but got caught up in the aftermath of the Wall Street-inspired financial crisis.
I’m unimpressed by the bank’s new effort to highlight all the good work being done by its employees, for it’s not the employee the public is upset with.
I don’t see Moynihan and other executives taking drastic, bold steps to make people believe in them again.
I still see record levels of executive pay and executive bonuses being held onto in the corporate world even as employees are being let go.
I still see the greed and detect a baseless entitlement mindset by the most powerful and influential among us.
That’s not bold leadership. It’s Wall Street as usual, led by men like Moynihan who seem so thin-skinned they can’t stand it when the public unleashes long overdue criticism upon them.
I know companies, large and small, do a thousand great things for communities throughout this country.
I know sometimes that tough, unpopular decisions have to be made by even the most conscientious executive.
I know that the majority of employees of large companies are hard-working and upstanding and just trying to earn a paycheck.
I don’t have to have someone like Moynihan remind me of that.
I’d rather he focused on making life better for those employees and the customers companies such as his have inflicted so much pain upon.
Otherwise, I’d rather he just tell the taxpayers ‘thanks for the $91.4 billion-loan,’ and go on his merry way.