It's customary for magazines to do year-end issues that recap where the respective industries they serve have been and where they're headed in the coming year. While it's only November, I thought I'd get a jump on things with a short Christmas wish list for the banking industry. Some of the things I wish for in 1998:
Someone explains to Hugh McColl that overpaying for a financial institution is glamorous for only a day. Then reality sets in. Meanwhile, other institutions are frantically trying to gussy themselves up for a sale five (or more?) times book value. Where will this over-valuation end?
Author and eminence grise Martin Mayer is named chair of The Bankers Roundtable: The Next Generation.
Sandy Weill, who might as well be known as Mr. Financial Conglomerate, takes a little vacation. Give the rest of the industry a chance-remote as it may be-to catch up.
The illustrious Big Six accounting firms pick a number-and stick with it. Big Four, Big Three whatever. We're all just tired of trying to keep score.
Microsoft mandates a new, bank-friendly marketing strategy that forbids the use of acronyms. First it was MSN, then MSNBC, only to be followed by MSFDC (remember this one; it's got the most teeth from a bank perspective). Skip the initials already; who the heck knows what's being talked about with all the acronyms being thrown around? Give me the nondescript, yet distinguishable, Gibraltar or Marble product names any day.
Corporate communications personnel see to it that bank CEOs and senior executives be photographed more than once a decade. One industry player recently called to plead with us to not run a photograph of him that we had in our photo morgue. He'd lost 150 pounds since the snapshot was taken and was tired of looking at the "old" him. Can't blame him; this should be a top priority in corporate communications.
Someone find a new top slot for Walter Wriston, former chairman of Citicorp. The banking industry could really use his "I've been around the block a few times" approach to the business about now. Make that double for Bill Zuendt.
Scott, Bill and Larry-of Netscape, Microsoft and Oracle fame, respectively-own up to being the Pep Boys of the technology world. For Scott McNealy, at least, this is a huge step up from being referred to- worse, photographed in full super-hero garb on the cover of Fortune-as Javaman.
Citibank and American Express merge, as do Chase Manhattan Bank and Merrill Lynch and NationsBank and Wells Fargo. And just to make things really interesting, what can be done with Fleet Financial?
Someone buys E-Trade. Please.
Integrion, owned jointly by IBM and 17 banks, defines itself and the value it brings to the market.
That Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette's Tom Brown well, he's pretty much figured out who's naughty and nice in the banking world. - HOLLY SRAEEL