There Are Worse Things Than Running Deutsche Bank Or Being Brian Moynihan

And it's a certain job at FINRA.
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So, how's the culture here?

Ever read the myth of Sisyphus and said, “Hey, that sounds like fun”? Like losing? And working really, really hard for too little money and too little reward only to be the butt of jokes? Well, my friends, perhaps you’d like to consider a job at FINRA. Particularly the part of FINRA focused on making animals who’d drive over their own mother to make 75 cents act like human beings.

Nobody becomes a financial adviser to make the world a better place….

Can Finra enforce strength of character among people motivated by greed?

No way. Players run faster than refs.

Read all of the above and thought, “Sounds good, but you can make it more thankless and miserable and soul-crushing and maybe even a little personally risky, and put us in a place where we can have all of that but also be ostracized and mocked and feared and loathed and ignored by our colleagues?” Why yes, yes we can!

I have never heard of senior managers passing out swag to compliance officers or rewarding them with Hawaiian boondoggles for turning down revenue.

So I asked two officers from the “business prevention unit,” an industry term of endearment for compliance staffs, what they thought about Finra’s focus on culture, specifically the way firms view and treat their compliance units….

If senior management repeatedly overrides the compliance staff, the reversals would be an indication to Finra that the firm’s compliance officers are nothing more than “junior chipmunks,” he added….

Both officers described the personal liability that compliance officers face when there are failures in oversight. Regulators can levy fines, take away supervisory licenses or ban professionals from the industry. “You must be effective,” one said. “If you’re not effective, you will be sanctioned.”

Vonnegut: Brokerage ‘Culture’ and the Challenges of Compliance [WSJ]

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The Smart Indexes Are Even Worse Than The Dumb Ones*

You may have heard that the Dow hit 13,000 today before subsiding to a shameful 12,965.69. You may not have heard this, or cared, because the Dow is for morons, being a price-weighted index of thirty semi-random companies that, gah, aren't even "industrial" any more.** There are alternative theories but those theories are wrong: Joe Weisenthal in defense of the Dow has been noting its very high correlation with other, broader, more sensible indexes. I see this as further undermining the Dow's legitimacy. If it's very different methodology were leading to some kind of meaningfully different result, then we could perhaps argue that it's adding value in some kind of way. But instead what's going on is that the Dow's creators are hand-picking which stocks to include in the index specifically with an eye toward constructing an index that mirrors the other, better indexes out there. Apple and Google, for example, aren't in the Dow and aren't doing to get in any time soon because their very high share prices would skew the index in weird ways. This just goes to show that the Dow's creators already "know" the right answer (from looking at the S&P 500 and the Wilshire 5000) and then are trying to assemble an index to create the predetermined result. Maybe! An alternative theory is maybe suggested by [Occam's razor and] this piece from the Journal this weekend about index funds that I just loved and so am now going to inflict on you at unnecessary length: