Sunday, January 17, 2016

5044 Brush fire 3 - investment account

Sunday, January 17, 2016

"The beauty and intricacy of a person's mind has little or nothing to do with outward appearances."


First, some extraneous thoughts:

Microsoft keeps urging me in popups to "reserve my copy of Windows 10".  Why "reserve"?  Are they in danger of running out of copies?

The huge Power Ball lottery.   I am amused by the people who accuse ticket buyers of being mathematically challenged, pointing out the enormous odds of winning.  So what?  Even though I never buy lottery tickets, I don't see those who do decide to take a chance on huge winnings as mathematically illiterate.  The way I see it, someone has to win, someone will win, and I have exactly the same chance of winning as that person.  So two dollars is not too much to share that person's chance at a billion or two.  (However, I don't have the same attitude toward buying tickets every day.  There are better ways to spend that money.)

Anybody else getting whiffs of McCarthyism from the Republican candidates?  (An interesting detail -- Joseph McCarthy's grave is on the banks of the Fox River.)


Back in November I got a call from Piper.  He was sending me some papers he wanted me to sign.  He's moving his clients' accounts to a different custodian.

So, the papers arrived.  Currently the custodian of my account is a well-known Wall Street bank.  I didn't recognize the name on the forms to which he wants to move my account.  He's also changing the brokerage that holds his license.  As of January 1, his relationship with the old brokerage ends.  I don't know the right terms for all this stuff, or the nature of the relationships, but that doesn't really matter.

Anyway, having never heard of this new custodian, I did some research, and I really really don't want to transfer to them.  This issue has consumed a lot of physical and emotional energy lately, and I'm tired of it.

They're in Alabama.  (Immediate bells went off.  Alabama?  Would I be depending on graduates of the Alabama public school system?) A bit over a year ago they fired several top executives because, uh, somebody was using company funds for yachts, summer homes, vacations, or whatever.  Digging a bit deeper I get the impression that this company is a good-old-boys country club run for the sole benefit of the good-old-boys who figured they'd found a goose that lays golden eggs with very little attention required.  

Lots of other unpleasant details.  

The most damning, as far as I'm concerned, is that in the summer of 2014 an employee took a laptop home and lost it in a restaurant bathroom.  The damning part is that client records (personal info, SS#s, account numbers, account activity, etc) are kept on the laptops, the employees are allowed to take them home, and nothing was encrypted.  A lower-level employee said that purchase of an encryption package had been submitted for the budget every year, and every year it had been rejected, "no funds in the budget" for that.  But check out what the executives are paid.  This is a clear indication to me that the safety of client data is very low on their priority list.

They've got some large nasty lawsuits going on, some from those fired executives, at least one multi-million dollar suit alleging shady business practices, and so on.  Of course, they might even prevail.  I don't care.  What matters is that there have been some very bad decisions made, and the culture of the company is such that an employee does not feel free to bring problems to management's attention for fear of being seen as "not a team player", or "rocking the boat", which is never a good thing.  They were fined (a piddling amount!) for the lack of encryption, and I have been unable to find anything about what they're doing about security now.  Doesn't matter.  I am not convinced that the attitude that lead to the cavalier treatment of client data is not endemic.  It'll crop up somewhere else, in some other form.

After a hundred years in business as a private company, they've been bought out by one of those fast-growing folks who snap up "companies in turmoil", as these folks have been described, at a bargain price, such purchase frequently to raid the assets or at least to absorb them.  This could be a good thing, but according to what I have been able to find out about the agreement, they are going to be allowed to operate autonomously.  I presume under the same management.  Not a good thing.

I asked Piper why he chose this particular bunch, and what I got back was a long screed about how wonderful the new brokerage firm is (is that what you call the folks he now works under?), but nothing about the custodial idiots in Alabama.  So, then I did the research on the brokers, and they're fine. 

So, no, I'm not going to sign the forms to move my account.  If Piper can't handle it where it currently is (does it matter who he's licensed through?  Maybe it affects how he's paid?) then, well, oops.

Piper is getting frantic.  In my latest email to him (I won't talk to him on the phone anymore, especially not about this) Friday I asked what our options are.  I know him well enough to know that now he's going to go into high gear to convince me, but my mind is made up, heels are dug in, and I really don't want to discuss it further.

Up in the air right now.


Something else I know about Piper -- "research" is a foreign concept to him.  He used to send me some of the most outrageous emails, you know, those mass mailings forwarded all over the world that originate with satirical "news" sites as truth, but are obvious blatant lies to anyone with half a brain, but believed by people who WANT to believe them.

I always responded to those with articles and sites that refute them, usually, but he never learned, and I finally had to get a bit insulting -- "please, before making yourself look like a total ass, do some minimal research before forwarding this crap".  He stopped including me in his distribution, but I'll bet he still believes that crap.

So, I'll bet he took someone's recommendation in choosing that Alabama bunch without ever doing any research of his own. 


TheQueen said...

Have you ever been happy with piper?

~~Silk said...

To tell the honest truth, not really. As of 2013 he's not been allowed to make any changes without clearing it with me first. Just this morning I got a call from the current custodians asking me what's happening, what are my plans. Turns out they have an office a few miles down the road from me here, and they are quite amenable to my taking full control of my account. I told them I need to give Piper a chance to respond, then I can make a decision. I think, give my current level of info, that's what's going to happen.

~~Silk said...