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.