Monday, October 20, 2008

On Bank Executives’ Extent of Accountability

The powers-that-be, the media and everyone had been demanding banking executives to be more accountable in their day-to-day dealings, but does this really work in practice?

By: Ringo Bones

Despite the powers-that-be and the media demanding bank executives to be more accountable of their financial / fiscal decisions and actions, we – the average investor – seems not to have any say on the matter. Why? , Because first and foremost bank executives are not placed in their positions by us citizens / voters. A case in point is what if Société Générale clients knew in advance of this year’s most famous rogue trader – Jérôme Kerviel’s intent. Can Société Générale clients threaten the banking board that if they won’t fire Mr. Kerviel, they will take their business – namely their cash deposits, portfolios and other investment instruments – elsewhere? Most likely it is a question of can’t rather than won’t. Like the recent shenanigans at Wall Street that lead to the downfall of Lehman Brothers and the US Government bailout of America's two largest equity loans provider - namely Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Shouldn’t bank executives’ track records – from their C.V. s to their fiscal hits and misses - be made available for public scrutiny so that potential bank clients, investors and depositors can have a semblance of an informed choice – let alone arbitrage - on who will be handling their investment portfolios? Unless you belong to the top echelons of the Saudi Royal Household or if you happen to own a multi-million dollar portfolio forget about it. If it hardly works on our politicians running for public office, then one must try to reacquaint his or herself with the meaning of the words caveat emptor if they ever hope to maintain the economic viability of their respective portfolios during this hard economic times. Because in the real world, accountability ultimately starts and ends with you, the potential client.

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