February 7, 2009

IT’S OFFICIAL, WALL STREET DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO HIRE OR FIRE

A comment made yesterday morning from Jack Welch, who in a moment of non self aggrandizing, had the refreshing wisdom to suggest that companies today are so blindsided by the massive scope of the global recession that they lack any forward clarity and are simply slashing jobs to raise capital and fend off the unknowing threat to their survival. Did he just suggest that too many lay-offs might be occurring and that the employment market could see a rebound of its own when the dust clears? I believe it, read some of the guidance being released with corporate earnings, no CEO worth his salary cap is going out on a limb. When will it change? When there is evidence that there is a genuine thaw in the housing market there will be a slight shift in confidence, how it progresses from there is anyone’s guess but sooner or later it’s very likely that many of the jobs lost will slowly begin to filter back into the mainstream.
But at what cost? Consider that since the government rolled out the first TARP the financial community has been busy hiring, or more like luring away, talent from competing firms. This might surprise some of you but that talent is in most respects the very talent that shoved much of the toxic investment down previous unsuspecting investor throats (otherwise know as advisors). What the financial community should be focusing on is hiring people who know how to manage client expectations without being afraid that it will scare away potential profits. Sure there’s always the need for people who can steer troubled assets without the danger of future fallout but they’re selling to the hedge fund community and private equity firms and are few and far between. That kind of talent is hard to come by which is why Ken Lewis said he would be willing to take 500K to assure his ability to pay more to hold on to talent.
In the meantime the financial community should look to shed its reliance on ‘quant heads’ and their jargon infested blathering that poses as innovative skills and recognize that experience is the solution for their collective survival.

Rule: Just because your broker has a job, doesn’t mean he knows how to do it.