Good-bye old and stodgy, hello colorful and fabulous. American Express Financial Advisors and Credit Suisse First Boston are undertaking extreme makeovers that would make the “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” gang squeal and lisp with pride. In an effort to remake themselves to the general public after a series of scandals including, but not limited to: kickbacks, IPO laddering, stock manipulation, analyst and investment banking conflicts of interest, terrible performance, and hiding property from holocaust survivors, these two dandies have decided to change their look, their name, logo, and advertising campaign. Rumor has it that they have also put scented candles in all of their restrooms, they will be moving their headquarters to the West Village, and will insist that all male workers wear leather pants on Fridays (just kidding). Anyway…say goodbye to boring old American Express Financial Advisors, they are now known as Ameriprise. Credit Suisse First Boston in the spirit of Cher, Madonna and P. Diddy will drop a name and be known now as Credit Suisse.
“Just gorgeous, their new logos are so trendy.”
Why would a firm go through the massive expense of changing everything; business cards, signs, letterhead, etc. unless they were really trying to hide from regulatory problems and poor past performance? We reported on how American Express Advisors were given dubious incentives like free leases on Mercedes Benz cars, vacations, and monetary perks to push ill-performing mutual funds over others that better suited their clients. We also fought vehemently to no avail to allow Credit Suisse, a firm that refused to return property to holocaust survivors and their families to buy First Boston. For an encore CSFB was a trailblazer in the use of stock manipulation and IPO laddering making a mint for themselves and insiders, while ripping off the public during the 1990’s.
We are starting to see more and more marketing changes from Wall Street firms. I couldn’t believe it last week when I saw Fidelity handing out Paul McCartney CD’s for all new accounts. We can only hope the public will see through the shallow and deceptive marketing practices. Instead of changing the way one does business, starting with the simple idea that clients should be put first, Wall Street is banking on the public’s short memory and new gimmicks. There hasn’t been any fundamental change in how firms are doing business and treating clients. We are busier than ever chronicling new and cunning examples of fraud and manipulation. Despite the makeovers the fact remains that beauty is only skin deep.