Brian Moynihan Would Appreciate You Cutting Him Some Slack

On December 17, 2009, Ken Lewis introduced to the company the guy who would be taking over his job, Brian Moynihan, by telling the audience that one of his successor’s “unique characteristics” was that he “actually wanted the job,” a reference to the fact that no one else, literally, did. While Moynihan was undoubtedly aware that the new gig would not carry the same prestige or money as running Goldman, or the groupies that come with running JPMorgan, or the pony rides that come with running Citi, one thing that apparently came as a surprise to him– but that those who turned down the position could foresee– was that this job? Really, really sucks.

In the beginning, if indeed Bri-O reached that conclusion as well, he kept it to himself, maintaining a stiff upper lip. But as the fruits of Countrywide founder Angelo Mozilo’s labor really began to blossom and Moynihan? Started to lose it.

In November, feeling like he was in a safe space among friends at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Banking and Financial Services Conference, he walked people through a typical day at BofA, i.e. his own personal hell, telling participants: “There’s a lot of people out there with a lot of thoughts about how we should solve this [mortgage mess] but at the end of the day, we’ll pay for the things that Countrywide did,. It’s a day-to-day, hand-to-hand combat.”

At a fundraiser for the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation, Moynihan was said to have “laughed” in reaction to a joke by Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman, who told dinner guests: “Brian Moynihan is here tonight. He’s the C.E.O. of Bank of America. As many of you know, Brian’s brother Patrick runs a Catholic boarding school in Haiti. Their parents must be so proud to see two of their boys running an underfunded, nonprofit organization.”  But just below his tranquil, happy-go-lucky veneer, B-Mo was silently screaming, feeling far from happy and anything but lucky. We know this because while he had to act like the cut rolled off his back, like he can take a joke, like it didn’t hit too close to home and like he wasn’t trying to figure out if it’d be possible to contaminate an entire shipment of crab legs and not have it tied back to him, the following day, he let it out. At a town hall meeting on Friday, his voice presumably a-quiver, Brian told employees:

“I, like you, get a little incensed when you think about how much good all of you do, whether it’s volunteer hours, charitable giving we do, serving clients and customers well.” To the bank’s critics, he said, “You ought to think a little about that before you start yelling at us.”

Now, if someone like, say, Dick Fuld, had said this, it would have been a warning that he was going to start busting skulls. If, someone like, say, Jamie Dimon had said it, it would have been a clear message that the “critics” had best watch their backs and that there’s a vacant lot in Atlanta where bodies can be dumped. When Brian Moynihan said it, however, it was a cry for help. It wasn’t so much a veiled threat insinuating what would happen if the haters continue to yell at Bank of America as it was a voice shaking, knees-cradled, rocking-back-and-forth “stop yelling at me!” He’s cracking and cracking hard.

And, because we care about the guy and can see that he’s thisclose to snapping, we’d like to encourage the investing community to think about what it can do to take the sting off small, every day situations that could push him over the edge. Random acts of kindness towards Brian that could help shake him free of the ‘me vs. the world’ mentality that come to mind include:

– Letting him cut to the front of particularly long lines at Pinkberry

– Taking some shitty mortgages off his hands

– Giving him your seat on the subway when he’s in town

STOPPING PRANK CALLING HIM during market hours

– Stopping in front of him to tie your shoe so as to have him in earshot when you loudly remark to your friend, “A $5 monthly debit-card fee seems MORE than reasonable to me. Frankly, I think it should be ten.”

– Offering him a job

– Your great idea

‘Incensed’ Moynihan Fights BofA Critics in Letter Campaign [Bloomberg]
Earlier: Brian Moynihan Is Having A Tough Time

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54 Responses to “Brian Moynihan Would Appreciate You Cutting Him Some Slack”

  1. PermaGuestII says:

    Hold a rugby drink-up in the conference center at One Bryant Park. Make him shoot the boot to bring back memories of his first try.

    -former rugby player

  2. Went There says:


  3. JHeiss says:

    How about selling off Merrill Lynch to a wirehouse that actually knows what it's doing? You…uh…know…the…one I'm talking about.

  4. BrotherLehman says:

    A hug at the OWS Empathy Table?

  5. Guest says:

    How about not picking on him on DB?

  6. pazzo83 says:

    Moynihan & Wollensky?

  7. Abe_Froman_ says:

    He's one day of occupy Charlotte away from breaking into the Boone’s Farm

  8. Merritt Parkway says:

    Like a deer in headlights.

  9. Mexi_Cant says:

    Everyone in Baml wearing a wig, freckles, and an incredibly ugly face to pretend to have the same genetic deformations as him, to make him feel equal.

  10. pazzo83 says:

    I can spot you another $5 billion, Brian. I'll throw in a steak dinner too.

    – Uncle Warren

  11. bluehorseshoe says:

    Bess, how about a visit from The Sandwich Fairy.

    -Brian M.

  12. Spirit Pointer says:

    Pay him more than Tom Montag

  13. Assburgher says:

    That's funny, I just got back from changing the checking account for the non-profit that I volunteer for from the $29.95/month option to the free one at BofA. Sorry Bri. Then again, you are now in effect contributing almost $360/year to a worthy cause and I, for one, celebrate that.

  14. Marv says:

    Hey, things could be worse. It could've been my money.

  15. jumbo says:

    So those 30,000 people they're laying off are those who don't do the volunteer work and charitable giving?

  16. pazzo83 says:

    Charge him $5 every time he uses his debit card in NYC?

  17. Cut Me says:

    A man becomes preeminent, he's expected to have enthusiasms. Enthusiasms, enthusiasms… What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy? Loaning money! A man sits alone at the desk. This is the time for what? For individual achievement. There he sits alone. But in the office, what? Part of a team. Teamwork… Looks, signs, pitches, hustles. Part of one big team. Bats himself the live-long day, Ken Lewis, Angelo Mozilo, and so on. If his team don't sell… what is he? You follow me? No one. Sunny day, the teller stands are full of customers. What does he have to say? I'm goin' out there for myself. But… I get nowhere unless the team wins.

  18. Wordsmith says:

    Incensed > Embattled

  19. The Truth says:

    Leave Britney alone!

    Wait, what's that? Oh, sorry.

    Leave Brian alone!

  20. Cjordan says:

    Occupy Mo-whiny-han

  21. J Cana says:

    Mumbles needs a good cry towel and a mat to take a nap…or he could nod off with his bud "Sleepy" Keith Banks in Keith's office

  22. Guest says:

    They always forget the legitimate years…

    – Raj Raj

  23. vikram pandit says:

    My advice: do as Dick Parsons and I do when running companies into the ground – enjoy the process and make sure the executive chef is the last guy laid off. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

  24. pazzo83 says:

    Candlelight dinner at Golden Corral followed by a night out at the Coca Cola 600?

  25. guest says:

    Stewie: Boy I am beat from doing adult stuff all day.
    Brian: What the hell are you doing?
    Stewie: Eeh, not much really. Just me and my pubes, haaaaangin out.
    Stewie: You ever just let your balls hang out, B-Ri? You ever do that, B-roni?

  26. Sally says:

    Why don't you fire yourself, we have a great severance package program for non-performance.

  27. J. Tree Bro says:

    He can take my Honda Civic for a spin around the block….I'll only ask that he pay me 20 cents for every mile used

    -UBS MD

  28. Guest says:

    Hemorraghing cash and a awful brand > the volunteer hours, charitable giving we do.

  29. FKApmco says:

    Job swap with Conan O'Brien

  30. Moneyluv says:

    I get no empathy from this bitch I'm dating. Hot as shit, but cold as ice.

  31. Heather says:

    Wow… No wonder so many people got in over their heads with mortgages, and now cry foul .. poor me.. I didn't know I was going to have to pay that much… Really? You just signed paperwork without reading it or if you did read it.. you signed something you didn't understand? When did we become a bunch of whiney, ignorant babies?

    So a company that has tons of people employed, employee's that work some serious hours to do a good job, is bad? People every freaking company out there wants to make money. Otherwise what is the point? Do you go to work and not expect to get paid? Of course not. I know BofA is a nice big target, but don't forget the people who work there, the teller at the bank that wants to help you. The IT guy staying up all night so that when you swipe you ATM card it works.. Or the team that created the software that lets you walk up to an ATM and deposit checks… I guess they are A-holes too huh?

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