Morning Coffee Aug 24 2011

Lawyering Up: Savvy Risk Management

By kyle stock

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has hired a high-profile personal defense attorney and the firm's investors -- at least the ones dumping the stock yesterday -- don't like it.

The move is a bit of a somber sign, but if I owned some Goldman shares, I would want the company led by someone savvy enough to cover his or her own interests.

Sure, the hiring could portend formal charges, but could also just be sound risk management. In fact, Peter Henning, a law professor who writes for DealBook, pointed out that the personal attorney might have even been required by legal ethics rules.

And this is not a costly step for a guy like Blankfein. One of Wall Street's top bosses hiring a lawyer is akin to those of us in the sweaty masses hiring a dog-walker. It's a simple and relatively cheap way to keep a mess out of one's house.

There's a message here for the rest of the Street: Don't be shy about lawyering up. With the flurry of layoffs at banks and brokerages this year, quite a few people will find themselves with a conflict of interest between themselves and their soon-to-be former employer -- or if you prefer the technical language: "thrown under the bus." Companies can be quite generous with garden leave, signing bonuses and even severance payments and they may be more likely to sweeten the deal for employees with their own legal muscle.

Swiss Cheese (FINS via WSJ)

UBS has made good on those layoffs it promised, announcing a plan to axe 3,500 positions in coming months. Pundits had expected executives to go easier on the wealth-management unit, but it was no surprise that the investment bank was the target of almost half of the reductions.

Related: UBS to Stay in Stanford

Do As I Say... (WSJ)

Wall Street executives aren't exactly eating their own cooking. Many of them have gone to cash and treasuries, according to WSJ's Money & Investing Chief Francesco Guerrara.

Meet the New Boss (Deal Journal)

In the wake of a growing ratings storm, Standard & Poor's President Deven Sharma is out and veteran Citi executive Douglas Peterson is in. Peterson has a Wharton MBA and a reputation for cleaning house at Citi's private bank in Japan.

Switching Teams (DealBook)

Jonathan Sorrell, who has been investing in hedge fund firms for Goldman Sachs, is joining one. He will head strategy at the Man Group.

Re-released in the Wild (NYT)

The number of banks on the FDIC's "troubled" list dropped in the second quarter for the first time since the crisis began. Some 23 lenders were dubbed healthy enough to sally forth free of supervision.

Survivors Go Down With the Ship (FT)

Is it better in the long-run for an executive to stick with a failing enterprise? Those who jump in the lifeboats live with a tarnished legacy.

Teamwork (Financial News)

Societe Generale hired three equity analysts and a specialist salesman. The newbies all focus on consumer goods and they all are leaving London-based Evolution Securities.

Staying Above Average (Bloomberg)

Parents today are more willing to help their college-bound kids avoid debt, but only if they make good grades. They will be less willing to pony up the bucks if junior's grades fall below B-level.

Buzz Around the Office

Extensive Damage (Neighborhoodr)

Gird yourself before clicking on this shocking picture that details yesterday's earthquake devastation in DC.

List of the Day: Losing Your Job

If you've been laid off, you may be tempted to retire to your bedroom and never come out. Don't do it. Instead:

1.Don't panic.

2.Don't isolate yourself.

3.Don't dwell on your anger and sadness.

(Source: AOL Jobs)




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