Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Financial Fee Fie Foe Fume

Tree for Two
As financial institutions “merge,” are “taken over,” or are “devoured” by their competition, more trees must be sacrificed. U.S. Bank “absorbed” Pacific National Bank last year and customers of Pacific were just mailed a two-for-one package — a full-color, 32-page glossy “Welcome to U.S. Bank” brochure and a 54-page “Your Deposit Agreement” booklet. Customers have to be impressed that on page three they included a 48-word paragraph assuring recipients that “We have written this booklet in plain language.” This is easily evidenced on page nine where it is written, “In Missouri, a revocable Trust or Pay-on-Death account may include an appendage to its title “not subject to the Nonprobate Transfers Law of Missouri.” Even if you can’t understand all or most or any of what the booklet describes, you have to feel at ease with their reassuring slogan, “All of US serving you.”

Help Fight Terrorism — Open An Account
As they “joined forces” Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney modestly described themselves as ”legacy firms” and “powerful names in wealth management” in their 26-page booklet. They exude confidence telling clients that each Financial Advisor or Private Wealth Manager is there for them through thick and thin. These individuals were formerly known as stockbrokers but while their bonuses were growing thicker and the value of investment portfolios was becoming thinner, the word “broker” became a distasteful term. Those managers may once again be earning their clients’ trust with a calm demeanor while wearing their requisite starched white shirts and well-polished, shiny black shoes as they take on the enemy with this patriotic action shown on page 21. “To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all U.S. financial institutions to obtain, verify and record information that identifies each individual or institution that opens an account or establishes a customer relationship with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.”

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