Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was in New York this week with a simple message for bank executives: Don't wait on Washington.
Momentarily ignoring the academics and press that had gathered to hear him Monday at New York University's Stern School of Business, Geithner appealed directly to bankers to start making their own reforms ahead of the effective date of new federal rules and regulations.
"Find new ways to improve disclosure for your consumers. End hidden fees. Don't push people into loans they can't afford," he said. Also, he advised, improve your pay practices, make sure your board members understand your business and focus on strengthening your financial position "so that your financial ratings, your cost of capital, all reflects your own financial strength and earnings prospects, not the false expectation that the government will be there in the future to rescue you from your mistakes."
And if none of that works, steal a page from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whom Geithner dined with on the day of the speech, and just be sure to maintain an air of confidence in your own abilities.
Over their meal, Geithner said, "I asked [Bloomberg] how New York was doing. He said it was strong. I said, 'Why is it strong?' He said, 'Because we have a great mayor.' "
Out of the Rough
After two years, Wells Fargo & Co. has decided it's safe to associate with golf again.
This week, the San Francisco company announced its intention to reclaim its naming rights to the PGA Tour's 2011 Wells Fargo Championship. Though Wells had inherited a seven-year contract through its Wachovia Corp. acquisition, it opted to leave its name off the marquee for both last year and this year's events. That didn't mean Wells sidestepped the $7 million annual cost of the sponsorship deal — it simply decided that having its name plastered on a luxury sporting event in the hometown of one of the largest casualties of the financial crisis might not draw the right kind of attention.
But times do change. In a press release, wealth management head David Carroll — the highest-ranking Wachovia executive to join Wells — stressed that the tournament generates $50 million in revenue for the Charlotte area's economy and seven-figure paydays for charities, such as Teach for America, that are associated with the event.
Of course, the tournament should mean more to Wells by next year, too: The company's integration of Wachovia's East Coast branch network is just getting under way. By next spring, when the tournament is held, Wells expects to be integrating Wachovia branches in its acquisition's home state.
Old Hands on Deck
Evercore Partners Inc. is launching coverage of banks after hiring some familiar names.
Andrew Marquardt said he is set to join the company in early September, once his obligations to his previous employer, Macquarie Capital, have ended. He is set to cover large-cap banks at Evercore, reprising the role he had at Macquarie.
He isn't the only veteran joining the team. Bradley Ball, who has worked for Citigroup Inc. and Ladenburg Thalmann, will cover specialty finance, while John Pancari, also from Macquarie, will cover regional banks.
Patrick Thomson has been named a head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s sovereign clients team.
Thomson is leaving the Ivey Asset Management division of Bank of New York Mellon Corp. in London.
JPMorgan Chase, which is hiring in a bid to expand overseas, said Thomson will help the company's asset management division attract more foreign clients.
Robert Diamond, the head of Barclays PLC's investment banking unit, sounded a lot like his U.S. counterparts in summing up its recent performance.
"The second quarter was tough," Diamond said on a conference call Thursday. "Clients were taking less risk in that period of May and June. We have clearly seen in the second half of July more activity in the market. I don't want to predict how that all plays out for the second half, but it looks more positive."
London-based Barclays said first-half profit rose 29% as a drop in provisions for bad loans mitigated its 32% decline in investment banking revenue.