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9/28/2008

Compressed time - the new Ethos

Unwittingly many have been submerged under a new lifestyle which often is called the rat race. Everyone is trying to get rich quick, at all costs. Life is no longer a casual stroll in the park. Graduating from university at 25, one only has another 20 or 25 years to accumulate the wealth to live for a life time, or to prove that one has the talent to collect handsome doles for the rest of one's life. By 50 or 55, one either has it or did not. By then it is over. The compressed time that an individual has to cope with is also translated to the behaviour of institutions. Institutions too need to get rich quick, or at least the CEOs must, to prove his worth and collect his bonuses. And his short term goals will transcend throughout the organisations, affecting everyone. Targets were set to measure performance yearly or quarterly. Non performers were shown the exit as quickly as they come in. Only the very privileged few have the luxury of long term, that they are judged or measured over a long period of time. By then nobody will remember what actually happened or be around to tell the story. Is the get rich quick ethos the cause of the recent financial crisis? Fingers are being pointed at the fat cats in Wall Streets and the new whipping boys, the Relationship Managers of local banks. These are now seen as unscrupulous, unprofessional, untrained, unethical, unreliable crooks, lurking in the corners waiting for some unwary ah peks and ah mahs to walk into the banks, and to pounce on them for their life savings. Are they the one solely to be blamed? Banks are an old institution that grows strong and steady overtime, collecting deposits to lend to customers and making the difference. A small profit but a safe and tested operating principle. The banks of today are financial giants that deal in everything that can make money, the quicker the better. Some banks even chased their small savers away or charged them a fee for putting too little money with them. This is the early face of this new ethos, greed. And greed knows no bounds. Money must be made at all costs. Jackson Tai of DBS once lamented in a dinner speech that the industry is tainted with many unethical and unscrupulous practices by its members. No one stood up to challenge him. I think many are just too guilty to look up at him. Yes, banks even stooped to poaching and stealing clients from each other, even from within banks or their subsidiaries. High net worth clients are the prize catch of every banking officer. They will steal from their best friends sitting next door, by hook or by crook. And the management encouraged it or were accomplice to such unethical practices. Why should people be so shocking about the collapse of the American financial institutions and the damage it is causing to the ah peks and ah mahs? When greed is the principle of survival, when getting rich quick is the moral of this new ethos, who is to be blamed? Spare the Relationship Managers. The rot is at the core.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are so right. Greed oozes from every pores of most Singaporeans. However, the Singaporeans are not to blame. I believe Singaporeans have been subjected to a cetain way of upbringing and governance that actually encourages greed. The Singaporeans have been noted to be "money-face" and wherever they are or whoever they are with they always talk abut money, assets, property and salary. The financial district in Singapore, more than anywhere else in the world, is riddled with unscrupulous sharks who would not hesitate to rob the last cent from the ah pek or ah soh in the street. What do you expect, money above all else in the most important commodity in Singapore. Without it or lack of it is considered a failure.

What a life !!!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I just pity the old folks putting their money in the banks and earning 0.375% or so of interest per annum, while the banks used that to generate 5% or more by lending it out. Yes, it cannot be helped because every country in the whole wide world works in the same way. But it shows that the rich just will continue to get richer at the expense of the poorer folks. The end is indeed near for mankind.

redbean said...

there should be a regulation on the spread which banks should pay the depositors. it cannot be the bank fixing the lenders rate a the lowest and charging their borrowers at the best they could.

say a spread of 3% should be reasonable. so if banks charged their customers 5%, the depositors should get 2%.