Myth 192 - The myth of top brand and reputation

Lehman Bros has more than 150 years of track record. A highly rated investment banks staffed by some of the best brains money can buy. And they were all paid damn well, many, not ten or twenty, were driving Ferraris and owning several multi million dollar castles in the US and in retreats across the globe. Working in Lehman Bros is like having it made. And their products were A rated and sold across the world. The more they were sold, the more credibility they earned and the stronger is the brand name. No one expects Lehman Bros to collapse. No one expects its products to be flawed. The only organization here that can match the reputation of Lehman Bros is Singapore Inc. Though it does not have the long track record, it is staffed by the best men and women, proven to be the best, thorough, hardworking, transparent, incorruptible etc etc. In other words, the brand and reputation alone will bring confidence that it will not fail. Whatever it does, its services and products are unquestionable. Today, not only Lehman Bros has fallen, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sach, Morgan Stanley, Barclay, UBS, Citibank and a lot more big names with big reputations have fallen to the wayside. In terms of reputation, brand, expertise and capitalization, none of our local institutions is in their league. Some big local institutions are also going to be dragged down, despite their big reputations. Can we live and trust on brand names and reputations alone? When the people change, the ideas change, the values and products change, the brand, the mission change and the reputation must also change. When good people have left, when bad ideas and values replaced the good of the past, the goods and services will not be the same again. Sometimes the changes are incremental and small and are difficult to detect. But change is taking place. You want proof, call Lehman. One can choose to continue to believe that nothing has changed. Refused or cannot see the changes. Everything is fine. One can also be frighten, be very frighten, when one is perceptive enough to see the rot within. To each his own belief. But surely there will be many Lehmans to come along.


Anonymous said...

The rating agencies which rated Lehman's products were part of the scam as well. So, who is to blame but the gullible and greedy 'investors' who bought into the whole AAA-rated baloney. The chickens have come home to roost. Caveat emptor, caveat emptor, caveat emptor. Never invest in somethign you do not understand. This applies to the suckers who bounght the minibonds as well.

Anonymous said...

There is only one ending for greed....grief.

:---( said...

rating & name Sells but only shell.

be happy dont worry

Kaffein said...

Top dollar = more profits and results.

We would have thought that after the Asia financial crisis people would have learnt a lesson.

All those checks and financial processes in place to prevent another meltdown all fell flat.

The only people are those CEOs /CFOs laughing because they still get paid millions.

Can that be said for any government officials who earn million dollar salaries to keep a particular country ahead of recession?

Alas, from what I have read, it was the first Asian country to head into recession.


PS. Read somewhere "Look Ma, I've just bought a bank for three dollars at eBay!"

Anonymous said...

Not too sure that lessons will be learnt. Can you change the character of a person who is greedy? Ten, twenty or thirty years down the road another bunch of greedy characters will rise and history is going to repeat itself. The irony of this world is that people always complain about too much regulation, but when things turn out terribly wrong, they then complain about too little regulation.

Anonymous said...

The greedy investors are as much to blame as the ones who sold them. If those investors had been more circumspect and saw those 'investments' for the scam that they are, then those dud 'investments' would have done a natural death. It is unfair to pin the blame on the creators of such 'investments'. Afterall it takes two hands to clap.

Anonymous said...

I find many are too quick to jump to conclusion that these are 'greedy' investors who need to suffer for their personal greed. First of all, such products should not have been sold at the retail level, but happened due to failures at regulatory level, even though Singapore is not alone in this. Mis-selling has clearly taken place. Secondly, ask yourself why local banks can get away with offering such low deposit rates all these years? Most of the victims are retirees merely trying not to fall too back behind with the surge in inflation.

Kaffein said...

Agree. These 'greedy' investors are your ah-kongs and ah-mahs who want to retire more easier in their twilight years where there is no safety net for them if they are ill.

Is that a crime?

How do you feel if your own parents burden you financial strains when you hardly have enough for your own family, kids education, mortgage payments, etc.

But it is a crime to 'milk' these elderly monies because they don't know what they are investing in.

How often have these RMs come to me and say (read these statement and tell me if you had received the same words), "These minibonds/structured derivatives/investments are similar to fixed deposits. In fact you get higher returns."

And showing these elderly folks brochures of these American/European companies, they assured the elderly, "Don't worry, your capital is safe. Look at these big company names. Do you think they will be bankrupt?"

You tell me how I know?

Because the RMs were 'hard-selling' to 2 elderly persons beside me while I was setting up my fixed deposit account. I rejected the option to go into these investments. That was like 5-7 years ago.

Are these RM right? Yes - their job is to sell. But if the buyer is not told or made aware of the risks and potential of losing everything, then it is the product and policy that need to be questioned. The RM is just a channel to sell these products the bank has put in place.

Don't blame these elderly persons because they don't have a good education like we do. In fact, you should pity them and help them in anyway. One day, it will all come back to you because you will grow old.


Matilah_Singapura said...

The govt can take your life (NS), your money (CPF, Tax), your liberty (exit permits, maid levy, censorship etc), steal your land...etc... and get away scot free. In fact, the govt robs you THROUGHOUT YOUR WHOLE LIFE, and gets away with it.

It can create a fiction like "CPF", force you to pay into it whilst you are working, keep reassuring you that it is "your money", and then change the rules and not allow you to take charge of "your money". Outright fraud, IMO.

But no one goes to jail. In fact people get promoted and bumped up the pay scale.

In the realm of GREED and ASSET CONFISCATION, no private entity or individual can come even close to a government.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time we used to scoff and laugh at BA(business admin) and MBA, today they are laughing all the way to their graves. Also universities and private school are churning them out like there is no tomorrow.

WE should go back to our old way, may be.

Its the discontentment of wanting and must have what jones have, resulting in situation we are in.

I don't know if I should empathize with the gullible old people because of their own wants or applaud wolf pretending to shepard( govt, CEO, BA admin,accounting, MBA).

Unfortunately true victims are uneducate, helpless and poor, fortunately they won't suffer as much.


Anonymous said...

Let us face reality straight on.

Poor and stupid people live, no proof to show that they have shorter live.

Rich and talented people also die, there is no proof that they live longer than poor people.

So, rich and poor, all live about the same length of time.

And reality also shows, good man and bad man last for about the same duration. So good and bad(quality AAA rated or Bucket Operators) companies and countries come and go as well.

Think not too much about money, get fresh air, simple joys and happiness!



redbean said...

the tragedy is only starting to unfold. there will be time to cheer and clap when someone climb over the ledge or into the mrt tracks.

then we can all says, losers!

Anonymous said...


The poor and desparates died and are forgotten. The Rich and Powerful who have abused their Spirits will be remembered in swears, curses, histories and for some, maybe records in Courts(Judicial).


Matilah_Singapura said...

> Rich and talented people also die, there is no proof that they live longer than poor people. <

I'll use the word "wealth" instead of "rich".

Longevity is strongly correlated to the amount of wealth. i.e. Wealthy individuals tend to live longer than less wealthy ones.

This is a historical fact. Hence the words of well-wishers in every human culture —all different from one another — throughout the world: "May you have Happiness, Prosperity and a Long Life"

Anonymous said...

Dear Matilah;

I do have to concede to the historical fact that the wealthy lives a little longer.

Once past 70 years old, most are unlikely to enjoy life much. There are likelihoods of physical, emotional and mental afflictions.

It maybe not correct to say life past seventy is less meaningful though most are likely to find quality drops in mobilities, sights and overall health.

Again I could be wrong to say the wealthy are living longer because they can afford medications. The longer life spans are medically supported and this may not itself means quality living.

On a personal note, at about sixty, I feel I had the best of what to live for. There seems little or no more joy and purpose to look forward to in this tiny red dot.

Nightlife, coffee shop chats, booze are not my cup of tea. All I like are 2 packets of Camel Brand cigarettes for 3 days, 2 to 4 cups of strong coffee and 2 or 3 cans of Guinness stout. This simple joy alone costs about S$500 a month, it gives me joy to indulge in them but it severely lacks value for money.

What the heck, if I do not wake up tomorrow, the joy will be eternal. Hey! just a joke, people say give it a good fight till the end, I have not fought any battle yet. It's so peaceful here, isn't it?


redbean said...

hi patriot, simple joys are cheap. back to lie on the beach and watch the stars. just a piece of straw mat will do.

but don't fall asleep. can be very costly.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> It maybe not correct to say life past seventy is less meaningful though most are likely to find quality drops in mobilities, sights and overall health.

Life,in and of itself has no "intrinsic" meaning. One has to THINK to give it meaning and ACT (in specific ways) to realise or manifest meaning. Therefore one has to be motivated first before any "meaningful life" is possible. Even if you give up say "life has no meaning", you have given it meaning and acted accordingly.

Longevity depends on other factors too: good genes, and how well one looks after oneself -- one's WHOLE self.

I consider myself very fortunate.
My mum is 81, eyesight is failing, one knee operation already... but she still goes to the gym Mon-Sat and does cardio and weights, eats healthy food. My dad was training until he was 82.

Me? I'm relying on the good genes of my parents :) I drink too much and eat too much nasi padang...