Anti-Big Din Grows
It is hard to say what interested us most about the launching of Stop Too Big to Fail, a campaign organized by Consumers for Competitive Choice and Sam Zamarripa, a former Georgia state senator.
It may be that we just love a good David and Goliath story. It may be that we wondered what a consumer advocacy group, one perhaps best known for its stand on competitive issues in the cable television market, would have to say about banks. Or it may be that this season's "Big Love," the HBO show in which lead character Bill Hendrickson is bidding for a state senate seat, has piqued our curiosity about those who have held that office in real life.
In any case, when Stop Too Big to Fail held a teleconference this week to introduce its effort, we were listening. And campaign spokesman Zamarripa, now a private-equity investor focusing on small deals in the Southeast, said he sees no reason why bankers would not side with him.
"I don't think the people in the banking industry in general really believe that they shouldn't compete with normal business pressures," he said. "I don't think any banker would be comfortable with the idea that there would be a fund set up … that would allow them to take greater risks than they should in the marketplace."
Zamarripa and the group's president, Robert Johnson, said they would fight any financial reform proposal that simply seeks to tax "too big to fail" companies or create resolution funds for them. It wants the notion of "too big to fail" to stop being perpetuated by reforms that poke at, but don't eliminate, the problem.
New RMA Boss
After a nationwide search, the Risk Management Association chose one of its own to be its president and chief executive.
William F. Githens, who spent more than 25 years in financial services before joining the Philadelphia nonprofit association in 1997 and becoming its director of member relations as well as a point man on credit risk management initiatives, succeeded interim CEO W. Kendall Chalk, the retired BB&T Corp. chief credit officer who led the RMA's search.
Githens, 62, began his affiliation with the RMA in 1973 when he was a commercial officer at First Pennsylvania Bank. The group "has been part of my career ever since," said Githens, whose experience includes posts as senior vice president of member relations at Visa USA and CEO of SynapQuest Inc., a subsidiary of the former CoreStates Financial Corp.
The RMA also recently announced the appointment of Christopher R. Kunkle as director of securities lending and market risk, succeeding Curtis Knight, who is retiring. Kunkle is a former managing director of Wachovia Corp.'s global securities lending group.
The Green Gaps
When it comes to eco-friendliness, consumers give Wells Fargo & Co. and SunTrust Banks Inc. far more credit than they deserve, but Citigroup Inc. has been underappreciated for its green activities.
Those were the findings of a Vancouver brand consultancy called Change, the Angus Reid Public Opinion survey group and the nonprofit Climate Counts, which sought to determine whether consumer perceptions of corporate environmental efforts matched the companies' activities. The research project, known as MapChange 2010, also examined industries including airlines, apparel, software and food and beverage. Across every sector it found disparities between reality and perception.
Other banking companies that scored higher on perceived sustainability efforts than their actions supported included Capital One Financial Corp., Regions Financial Corp. and U.S. Bancorp. Citi was the only U.S. banking company to experience the reverse, perhaps a spillover from the general tarnishing of its image; people accurately perceived the activities of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp.
Off to a Hot Start
So far, 2010 is shaping up as a good year for Cathy Bessant at Bank of America.
Bessant, the company's global technology and operations executive, last week was named Charlotte BusinessWoman of the Year by Queens University. The university said it was honoring Bessant for her "significant, sustained contributions to the business community."
Last month, Bessant was named to Brian Moynihan's management team and promoted to a direct report of the new chief executive. She is well known in Charlotte as a former chairwoman of the chamber of commerce.