So, apparently the employees at some order clearing and execution firm have been slacking a bit of late, to the extent that their boss felt it necessary to fire off a 50,000 word email that starts off pretty normal and then goes to a place where kangaroos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Korean holidays, kindergarten graduations and sipping champagne after the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge (totally inappropes!) converge. Use it yourself if you're looking to be that (unhinged) guy. To those searching for work, it sounds like a few people are about to get fired, so consider shooting Sam a res.
From: Samuel F. Lek
To: Lek Securities Employees
Subject: Current State of Affairs
Our staff's commitment is not as good as it was in the past. Some people are doing a great job, but for this firm to work, everyone has to contribute 110%. We must remember that the customer is king and that our customers deserve to be treated accordingly. We don't have the capital or the recourses [sic] of some of the larger firms, so we need to sell ourselves by providing our customers with the best service, innovation, and a commitment to understanding their needs. Almost all of us can do better. It would be a good idea to do what I did over the weekend: Take some time to figure out what you can do to become more effective, and waste no time trying to reason why you are already doing a great job and why this memo really doesn't apply to you, because it does. We cannot afford to slack off. These are hard times. There are a lot of talented unemployed people out there. I am sure that many of them also at some point took their jobs for granted.
I was in Mexico on Friday, and I heard that people had a blast watching "Curb Your Enthusiasm." I also heard that there was a $90,000 error. Don't waste any time trying to explain that the two are not related. In my mind, they are related by definition, and trust me: The person or the people responsible for that error are going to pay for it.
One very disturbing symptom of a diminished lack of commitment manifests itself by our staff taking too much vacation, leaving early, and coming in late. We have never had a vacation policy and I seriously considered instituting one. For the moment I have decided against it, but if you are out for more than 20 days a year, including religious holidays and personal days, which includes doctors' visits, dentists' visits, graduations, school plays, golf outings, and business trips that look more like vacation than real business trips, you are probably out too much, although nothing is written in stone. There can be exceptions.
We are not a bureaucracy. People who do not put their careers first shouldn't be working here. If I find that people are more enthusiastic about vacation to the extent that work isn't being done (which is currently the case), then those people will have to find a job elsewhere. Particularly, long vacations (more than one week) in faraway places where you can't be reached puts up a big sign that you are either not needed, or if you are needed, you don't care. Long vacations in remote locations should be taken infrequently, like a honeymoon. If you feel that you are not needed, you will not have a hard time convincing me that you are right. There are plenty of unemployed qualified people waiting to take your place. If you like a lot of vacation, long weekends, days off, coming in late and leaving early, then Wall Street is not the place for you.
I do recognize that our staff is maturing. Many of us are getting married, having children and experiencing serious illnesses in our families. I was not immune from that myself. We are entitled to take time to care for our families, but when this happens, we need to sacrifice elsewhere. We simply need to use more discretion. When my kid graduates from kindergarten, I'm not so sure that that is such an important event that I need to take the day off. I observe Korean religious holidays, but from now on when I decide to take off on the Harvest Moon Festival, which falls on 14‐16th days of 8th month, I am going to make up for it on Good Friday, which is not a religious holiday in Korea. I also really enjoy kangaroo racing, but I am no longer going to take off on triple witching Friday, because there is an important kangaroo race in Connecticut and not respond to calls on my cell phone, particularly when my primary back‐up person is also out.
I am also reminding everyone that it is imperative that you are always reachable, and make no mistake about it, if you are not there when you are needed I will find someone else to do your job. It is crucial that our traders and the staff in the clearing and settlement departments are available to attend to our customers' problems, and that there should always be enough technical people around to keep our systems up and running smoothly. But as things now stand we are too often just going through the motions and we are not accomplishing enough. We have a very qualified staff and it's hard to pin‐point exactly what's wrong, but when after the Corporate Challenge I saw people sipping Champagne, it became crystal clear to me that we are not aware that times are tough. There is nothing to celebrate! The numbers don't lie. The results are not good.
I have no interest in rehashing the past. Do not come to me and try to explain that you are doing a good job, because if I don't agree with you, you're just making it abundantly clear that you don't get the message, and you are going to get fired during that conversation. Going forward however there are going to be some significant changes. Nefeli is going to record when people are out, including half days, doctors' visits, school graduations, business trips with vacations attached, etc. and I'm going to look at it carefully. People who have already taken a lot of days off should consider canceling some plans for the rest of the year.
We still have the ability to be very successful and make a lot of money. We can do it, and I'm going to make sure that it happens. We just have to try harder and stay on track.
Samuel F. Lek
Lek Securities Corporation
140 Broadway - 29th Floor
New York, NY 10005