M:I Products

MISSION:INTANGIBLE, the blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society, offers critical comments on intangible asset, corporate reputation, and finance; supplemented by quantitative reputation metrics. Intangible assets include business processes, patents, trademarks; reputations for ethics and integrity; quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience; and comprise 70% of the average company's value. MISSION:INTANGIBLE is a registered trademark of the Intangible Asset Finance Society.

Read future M:I posts via RSS RSS

JPMorgan Chase: Yawn, another cyber event

C. HUYGENS - Thursday, October 09, 2014
Nothing speaks reputation risk management success like having a boring crisis. No declarations of regulatory opprobrium from shocked regulators, although a few State Attorneys General are probing, looking for some political points. No demands for the heads of directors and officers from activist investors. No hand wringing in the blogosphere from any other aggrieved stakeholder group.

No one seems the least bit surprised. According to an analysis published by Consensiv, the reputation controls company, based on reputation value metrics we used by Steel City Re, JPMorgan Chase’s reputation premium, a measure of additional value arising from favorable stakeholder expectations, is up slightly to the 91st percentile within its peer group since the breach was first disclosed in July.

We just saw this movie with Home Depot.

Read more from Risk & Insurance.

Screw Up, Cough Up

C. HUYGENS - Monday, April 07, 2014
When the big banks screwed up, taxpayers felt the pain. Much was made of the observation that those who could, or should, have seen the disaster coming were financially rewarded in the interregnum. There is no monopoly of socializing risk. The New York Times observed over the weekend that "While shareholders of G.M. will shoulder the costs of fines, settlements and the loss of trust arising from the mess, the executives responsible for monitoring internal risks like these are unlikely to be held to account by returning past pay."

The word is clawback. Two years ago, as the crisis of the London Whale was engulfing JPMorgan Chase, Bloomberg reported "that “New York City Comptroller John Liu said that JPMorgan should tell shareholders it will ‘aggressively claw back every single dollar possible from the executives responsible for the $2 billion loss.’” Huygens observed that employees subject to the clawback would probably have other opinions.

Fast forward, and it is deja vu all over again-but different. In additional to financial shenannigans, Scott M. Stringer, the current New York City comptroller, who oversees five municipal employee pension funds with assets of $140 billion, has successfully negotiated expanded thresholds for clawbacks at five companies this year including both banks and non-banks: Allergan, Halliburton, Northrop Grumman, PNC Financial and United Technologies.

According to the New York Times, "Under the agreements, pay can be retrieved from a wider array of senior executives than is typical. And recoveries can be sought not only for intentional misconduct and gross negligence, but also for violations of law or company policies that cause significant financial or reputational harm to the institution." Failures in governance, controls, and risk management are actionable causes.

Huygens has often suggested that reputational value metrics, such as those published by Consensiv,  could be useful tools for managing reputation. The New York City comptrollers have identified another application: measuring loss to trigger punishment.

Read more.

JPMorgan Chase: You're doing it wrong

C. HUYGENS - Monday, March 31, 2014
"Doing it," a double entendre used extensively in the arts, rarely raises an eyebrow nowdays. But when used in banking?

Last week, start-up condom company Lovability learned that Chase Paymentech, an operating company of JP Morgan Chase, would not handle its credit card transactions. Lovability’s founder, Tiffany Gaines, who started the company as a way to discreetly sell condoms to women, told the Huffington Post that a representative told her on the phone that they would not work with her because doing so posed a “reputation risk” to the company.

The financial sector is under orders from the Office of Comptroller of Currency (OCC) to manage financial risk where "reputation risk" is a named component. But reputation risk, in this context, is a risk of negative future expectations -- which in the financial sector, means liquidity risk. Confounding reputation risk with social concepts such as likability and cultural acceptability, as Jonathan Salem Baskin wrote in Forbes,  is simply "doing it" wrong.

Planning to attend RIMS 2014 Denver 29 April? Come learn more on enterprise reputation risk.

JPMorgan Chase: The limits of reputation resilience

C. HUYGENS - Tuesday, October 15, 2013
A strong reputation among a diversity of stakeholders can sustain a firm for years through thick and thin. Witness the 25-year run enjoyed by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) after the famed 1982 Tylenol poisoning, and the less famed but much more important 1986 Tylenol poisoning II. Alas, resilience has its limits as Johnson & Johnson discovered in recent years.

Enter JPMorgan Chase (JPM), an integrated bank led by Jamie Dimon, a CEO with rock star-like cult status as a risk manager extraordinaire, who guided his firm through the ugliness of 2008 unscathed. Since the London Whale event hit the news 18 months ago, sturm und drang have played out amongst stakeholders, especially those at the periphery comprising regulators, litigators and mommy bloggers, who have piled on the opprobrium -- and the fines. The New York Times' pithy summary comprises the headline: The Bloodlust of Pundits Swirls Around Jamie Dimon. See cartoon clip starting at 0:56/2:31 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNCz0-CYj8M

The damage has been incremental, but measurable; the largest U.S. bank by assets, on Friday reported a $380 million loss, or 17 cents per share, in the third quarter on lower revenue and massive legal bills. That compares with net income of $5.7 billion, or $1.40 per share, a year earlier. Excluding litigation expense, the New York financial giant posted a profit of $5.82 billion, or $1.42 per share.

The Steel City Re reputational value metrics reflect the lowered reputation (CRR) ranking (reputation premium) driven by the volatility of stakeholder (RVM Vol) expectations (consensus trend). Wells Fargo (WFC) now enjoys a greater premium and greater return on equity, and lower current volatility. The projections are for Wells Fargo to continue gaining premium value, and for JP Morgan Chase to continue losing.

JPMorgan: Bowl Game Post-Mortem

C. HUYGENS - Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The votes are in and by a supermajority, Jamie Dimon is still both CEO and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase. Notwithstanding a concerted effort by the proxy services, ISS and Glass, he was returned to the dual role with a stronger showing than last year's simple majority.

For readers of this blog, the outcome was expected, according to an analysis of the Steel City Re reputation metrics by the advisory firm, Consensiv, and their Consensus Trend measure. While the outcome was not in doubt from a reputation-based model of behavior, a post-mortem is still valuable. In this regard, Huygens writes with authority having served as Deputy Coroner in Los Angeles County in a prior life.

Using Steel City Re's repetitional value metrics, Consensiv scores reputational value using a proprietary algorithm to calculate net expected behaviors. It is agnostic to qualitative values of what should matter to stakeholders, and measures instead the outcomes of whatever observably matters.

Like a jury, stakeholders as a group bring to the table a simple, unvarnished understanding of the facts. It is a valuable understanding described by James Surowiecki as the Wisdom of Crowds. The stakeholders understood that while companies are generally faceless, in times of crises or turmoil, their identity fuses with that of their leaders. This melding of CEO and company reputation has been studied by leading reputation experts such as Dr. Leslie Gaines Ross and summarized in the 2012 opus, Reputation, Stock Price and You.

Simply put, the stakeholders understood that the separation of CEO and Chair, allegedly on the basis of principles of good governance, would be perceived as a personal rebuke that would damage Jamie Dimon's reputation. They also understood that Dimon's personal reputation, that is, the expectations of the benefits of his leadership, were drivers of some of the excess value in JPMorgan Chase (what Consensiv terms Reputational Premium). Last, they understood that public humiliation, like a scarlet letter, would permanently stain Dimon and force his resignation. Reputational value insurances, which are designed to prevent such permanent damage to senior executives and board members, are not effective after the damage is done.

To remain in the limelight would only ensure repeated embarrassment, as the press would forever follow his name with a parenthetic reference to his fall; e.g., Tony (I want my life back) Hayward, Frederick (I would like my knighthood back) Goodwin, and the classic Michael (disgraced junk bond king) Milken. The stakeholders understood all that. The reputational value metrics, as Jonathan Salem Baskin explains in an article in Forbes today, captured behaviors that reflected those impressions.

JPMorgan: Bowl game, Tampa, 21 May - Dimon 1, Activists 0

C. HUYGENS - Sunday, May 19, 2013
It's last call at the betting window. Cold beers have been wagered on the outcome of the May 21 annual shareholder meeting of JPMorgan Chase. One one side, the status quo which has weathered risky times, rebounded from mistakes, and outperformed on a range of metrics. On the other side, philosophical and ideological notions of governance backed by the moral principle that less risk-taking is an inherent good. Governance blogs on LinkedIn provide ample background:

Boards and Advisors Blog 1
Boards and Advisors Blog 2
Boards and Advisors Blog 3

The quants, too, have their say. With five days, left, the Steel City Re reputational value metrics, as before,  show exceptionally low levels of current reputational value (Current RVM) volatility at JPM indicating stakeholders are not expecting change.

JPMorgan Chase: Saying foolish things?

C. HUYGENS - Sunday, May 12, 2013
The chattering classes are terribly excited about the upcoming annual meeting of JPMorgan Chase. True, the banking industry is generally not all that exciting, except when it is uncomfortably so. But JP Morgan Chase has much good news to share. This part quarter, for example, its trading team had a perfect record of no losses on any day bringing in a performance that beat both Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Its M&A team also topped the league tables for the prior year, again beating Goldman Sachs. The bank's borrowing costs are rock bottom, and its CEO was offered up as Secretary of the Treasury by none other than Warren Buffet.

None of that, however, is factoring in to the chatter. The press and airwaves are dominated by expressions of outrage by proxy advisory groups that CEO Jamie Dimon, the earstwhile Treasury secretary nominee, has the audacity of being his own boss by holding also the title of Chairman. Their distress, to be shared in Tampa, Fla., on May 21, is more broadly directed at the board as a whole comprising individuals who failed to monitor the bank’s risk management, a failure highlighted by last year’s $6 billion trading loss in the company’s chief investment office. The directors stand charged with "letting down outside shareholders."

Writing for the Financial Times, Gary Silverman offers a refreshing counterpoint. In an essay aptly named "Daydreams of supervising Dimon," Silverman concludes "that just about the only person who would be truly capable of supervising Mr Dimon at JPMorgan these days is Mr Dimon himself, and that means this column leaves him as it found him – in a lonely place."

Huygens, being a numbers man, seeks comfort in the wisdom of crowds. Yet as Jacques Anatole François Thibault, winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature observed, "If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." Huygens, being a numbers man and being from Pittsburgh and and being an admirer of Andrew Carnegie, is less interested in what people say, and more interested in what they do (or are expected to do).

Stakeholders are generally rational. Activist investors have a point, and when a company is in trouble, things need to be shaken up. Witness the value created at JCPenny by activists investors who upon the departure of then CEO Myron Ullman and brought in Apple Inc. retail giant Ron Johnson to restore integrity to the sinking retail ship. Seeking Alpha's assessment: JCP's stakeholders must be furious that the company spent $170M of their money to hire Ron Johnson and his team...only to rack up dreadful five quarters of 15%+ year-over-year declines in comparable sales. So who's in charge now? Myron Ullman.

From a reputational value perspective, JPMorgan Chases remarkable journey over the past two years has been document here previously. At the risk of having a Karl Rove moment, Huygens opined recently on a LinkedIn blog, Boards and Advisors, that the Steel City Re Reputation Value Metrics indicated no major changes at JPMorgan Chase. Huygens shared the same with friends on the LinkedIn blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society. Updated metrics from this past week, now only less than two weeks from the annual meeting, affirm Huygen's impression. JPMorgan Chase's reputation is in generally good standing, and the current volatility of its RVM, a non-financial measure of reputational value, is at a peer-group low of less than 1% (Chart, top, row, Vital Signs and Current RVM Volatility). The data, representing the wisdom of crowds including, but not limited to pundits and shareholder advisers, indicate that as a group, no one is expecting any surprises. Or in the words of Consensiv, an advisory group, the Consensus Trend for JPMorgan Chase reflects a remarkable coherence of expectations.

Which leads Huygens to predictions in the alternative. First, it is unlikely that there will be major changes at JPMorgan Chase's Board of Directors; second, if in the unlikely scenario there are, the stock price will become quite volatile.

JP Morgan Chase: Authentic

C. HUYGENS - Monday, April 08, 2013
A meat-product snack called Slim Jim took pride in its two classes of followers: haters and lovers. The haters could be dismissed as long as there were enough lovers finding value in the product.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) may be the banking equivalent. There is no shortage of governance executives and proxy advisors who have strong concerns about the fact that Jamie Dimon holds titles as both CEO and his own boss, Chairman of the Board. They're pushing for a split. Others see a Karmic injustice in the ability of Mr. Dimon to weather the consequences of the London Whale event and its multi-billion dollar loss without nary a scratch.

Other stakeholders have spoken through more economically compelling actions. Creditors are offering superior terms, equity value is high, and customers may have pushed the bank past Goldman Sachs on the M&A Value league table. Employees have love, too, and while the effects are transparent on the P&L, it's nice to know why.

Consider the bank's response to Super Storrm Sandy. CFO's Caroline McDonald writes, "Unlike many companies, faced with closed branch banks when people needed access, Chase chose not to passively wait for employees to get back to work whenever they could. The company provided transportation to pick up employees and take them to work, according to the employee I spoke to. The company also provided them with food, and those who had no home to go back to were put up in hotels, she said. This was all corroborated by a Chase spokesperson. The list went on and on, including taking care of children whose schools were closed through its backup childcare program, and helping employees find automobiles when theirs were destroyed."

What about the objective measures of reputational value from Steel City Re, and how is the growing horde calling for changes in Mr. Dimon's status affecting reputational value volatility? The short answer is not much. Relative to its 50 peers, JPM's ranking is in the 90th percentile. Its RVM volatility, a measure of uncertainty, is at the 15th percentile with an absolute measurement of around 1.5%. All indicators of reputational value stability are at top levels, suggesting that change is not expected. Which is not necessarily good if the proxy advisors get their way on principle - expect a major loss of equity value in the uncertainty that would follow.

Financial Services: Organizational resilience

C. HUYGENS - Tuesday, January 22, 2013
They're at different ends of the ROE continuum, but both JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank share one common attribute that is a hallmark of the financial services sector: remarkable resilience. Both keep taking a licking of one form or another and keep on ticking.

Earlier this month, the Board of Directors at JPMorgan Chase stepped into the fray, took up Barney Frank’s 2012 suggestion, and slashed Jamie Dimon’s bonus for the $6bn London Whale affair and for, as the press reports, “damaging the bank’s reputation.”

Yet objective measures of reputational value would argue otherwise. An institution in the throes of a reputational value crisis cannot buy $2.85 billion in credit at rock-bottom prices. In addition to paying only 77 basis points above US Treasuries for fixed-rate securities due October 2015, with an unprecedented low rate of 1.1 percent, the largest US bank paid only 66 basis points more than 3-month LIBORs for floating rate securities for the balance. Moreover, a CEO in the center of a reputational crisis is unlikely to be nominated by Warren Buffet to be Secretary of the US Treasury. And an institution in a reputational crisis is unlikely to report net income of $5.7bn for the fourth quarter, up sharply from $3.7bn a year earlier, as JPMorgan Chase shared last week.

Meanwhile an Italian judge recently convicted Deutsche Bank together with  JPMorgan Chase, Switzerland's UBS and a German-Irish bank, Depfa, for their role in overseeing fraud by their bankers in the sale of interest rate bets to the city of Milan. In parallel, Deutsche Bank is part of a worldwide investigation for altering the British benchmark interest rate (Libor) and its euro-counterpart (Euribor). The US Senate named the German bank alongside Goldman Sachs as the two institutions that played a “key role” in the financial crisis.

Once renowned for its solid and risk-averse business, Deutsche Bank became an aggressive investor under the leadership of Swiss top banker Josef Ackermann. His successor, Juergen Fitschen, who vowed to change the company's culture, recently came under fire in Germany for having phoned up the regional governor to complain about the police raids which are denting his bank's reputation.

The Steel City Re Reputational Value Metrics show JPMorgan Chase far ahead on most measures. As shown in the vital signs chart below, Deutsche Bank's RVM volatility, a measure of reputational value volatility, is been and still is more volatile that JPMorgan Chase's, its CRR, a measure of relative reputational ranking is lower, and its ROE is significantly lower. But in a nod to last week's Mission Intangible Monthly Briefing on organizational resilience, Deutsche Bank's reputational ranking, its CRR, is rapidly on the rise and therefore its reputational stability (reflecting change) is also lower than JPM's. These reputational value measures are forward-looking indicators of economic value. Therefore, notwithstanding all of the scandalous news, these reputational value metrics indicate that in the setting of a rapidly rising CRR, profitability at Deutsche Bank (read: ROE) is sure to follow.

Citigroup: Great expectations

C. HUYGENS - Thursday, October 25, 2012
Vikram Pandit stepped down last week as Citigroup Inc.’s chief executive officer. For followers of corporate reputational value, this turn of events was not surprising.

The lot was cast when Pandit asked long-suffering Citigroup investors to support an outsized pay package for mediocre performance. As discussed in the forthcoming book, Reputation, Stock Price and You, Pandit’s nominal salary was generous relative to the respect afforded to him by investors.

As reflected in a regression of Barron’s Most Respected Company scores from the book's Chapter 7, financial sector CEO salaries correlate with reputations. Three companies were outliers. Nominal salaries at Berkshire Hathaway and Visa, both companies with stellar reputations, were below the trend line. At the bottom end of the spectrum, Citigroup ranked just above AIG. While AIG’s CEO’s salary was $3.02 million,  Pandit’s nominal salary was significantly above the trend line at $7.02 million.

Citigroup’s performance, however, has been only mediocre. As shown below in the Steel City Re Reputational Value Metrics, among 250 peer companies, Citigroup ranked in the 56th percentile recently on Steel City Re’s CRR, a measure of relative reputational standing; in the 46th percentile on the RVM, a measure of reputational value volatility; and rewarded equity investors with trailing twelve month returns in the 49th percentile. The figures are vastly improved from just earlier this year.

But as is often the case, better may not be good enough. None of these levels are what would be expected for such a huge balance sheet. Goldman Sach’s recent CRR was in the 88th percentile and its RVM volatility was in the 40th percentile. JP Morgan Chase’s CRR was the 77th percentile and riding on a post-whale upwards wave with a greater RVM volatility ranking in the 65th percentile.

AIG’s CEO’s salary was $3.02 million, and his compensation package was approved by 99.19% of the votes cast at the last annual shareholder meeting. In contrast, Pandit’s compensation package was approved by only 45% of the votes cast. The board had to act. Ann Murray, partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, a law firm, warns that boards need to act defensively and anticipate shareholder reaction. “Failed” say-on-pay votes triggered derivative litigation against directors in about 20% of the cases in 2011.

The last data entries on the charts below show the market's response to Pandit's resignation. Stock price jumped relative to peers, RVM volatility decreased and forward-looking reputational ranking (CRR) indicators reported expected upswings.

Recent Comments