The recent Banking Royal Commission certainly indicated that the “Big Banks and Superannuation Companies” were prepared to crucify customers to satisfy shareholders.

Surely a satisfied loyal customer base improves the bottom line of a Company which in turn gives shareholders a better dividend doesn’t it?  If customers are allowed to drive the bottom line of a business when they vote with their feet, surely the best businesses are pushed to the forefront of that industry. “Financial engineering” at the expense of customer focus is surely a formula for failure.

Well of course Shareholders/stockholders/part owners however you define them, play an important role in the financing, operations, governance, control investment and financial stability for the company going forward to name a few.

Boards and upper stream Managers apply pressure to downstream staff for achieving higher and higher sales targets for example no matter how those targets are achieved even it pushes those staff into the grey areas of illegal business.

Those staff are the ones I feel sorry for, having worked in sales myself and the pressure to be at the top of the leader board at the weeks end and where remuneration schedules were set in such a way that the base hourly rate was minimal, and the cream was only made after you made the sale, despite the goalposts that were sometimes moved to get there. So if you have limited scruples it’s easier to make more money, even if it may mean the customer, the party you are meant to be working for comes off second best.  But if you do have scruples, and I believe most people do, then they must find it difficult to rest their head on the pillow easily at night.

Now I’m sure that many of the Mums & Dad shareholders and even institution shareholders, would not have invested in the big banks or similar institutions because they believed for a minute that they would have been involved in some of the misdemeanors the royal commission has highlighted. They would have invested in the companies for security, financial return and perhaps public profile and limited opportunity of failure as they saw it. Well some of that has now gone out the window, however these conglomerates have been a law unto themselves and just kept on making huge profits for shareholders.  Because people and businesses need to keep on borrowing money at some time or another. Bank bashing has become a great pastime recently for every man and his dog so I’m not interested in joining the queue.  However I feel this is an unsustainable floor in their short term management and in the long term will minimize the foundations of financial institutions in Australia if they don’t put the customer first. I don’t mean just talking about it in pathetic advertisements, but actually doing it.

As Larry Light contributor from the Daily News and is a writer/editor at CBS MoneyWatch,  says in his article “financial-engineering” in today’s management mantra seems to be “Damn the customer — let’s be a lean, mean, cost-cutting machine.”

“This is a perfect, and perfectly horrible, example of what can happen when companies trade off satisfying shareholders at the expense of satisfying customers” end quote.

But what about the staff and all other stakeholders involved in that business. The contractors and sub-contractors and the franchisees for example and all their employees. They could be accountants they could be truck drivers

Well, “that’s saving us money”, say all the bean counters at the board room table

Do you remember when it was said with some conviction that staff were your best asset in your business? And from my own experience I believe that is even more applicable in difficult financial times because that’s when good staff “step up to the plate” for their employer. Whom they know has supported them through some difficult times. And they, like the employer are sure that the good times will return eventually if they can ride out the storm.  It may not even necessarily be only about money or remuneration, but more the “relationship and experiences” between staff and management. The time you were given time off work to attend funerals or important distant family weddings. No questions asked when you needed to see a specialist regards urgent treatment or even you GP when you need a blood pressure prescription renewed. Just been treated with respect and curtesy as part of the team over a long period of time is surely a big part of it. Extreme cost-cutting to generate efficiencies can work short-term but wreak havoc long-term.

Surely another part of this problem is the timeframe that many CEO’s and politicians and many others are employed under. They’re thinking about next month’s returns and this year’s executive bonus, not what happens in five years’ time or even ten – let alone our children’s generation

Now in comparison, let me give you an example of a small business that in my humble opinion does not only earn amazing loyal customer support, manufactures magnificent products, cares for and supports its staff over many years and has a remarkable twenty five year product guarantee, but also complete replacement guarantee no questions asked.  Now wouldn’t they be a great company to invest in as a shareholder by comparison!!And as they say in the ad, “Compare the pair” And immediately I must say, that I have neither asked for, nor obtained any remuneration of any sort from the Leatherman Company – they wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap.  I just believe good stories should be told.

Do you remember the old “Swiss Army Knife” well this is the real deal.


Leatherman has been manufacturing and designing multi tools and multi tool accessories for over 30 years from their manufacturing base in Portland Oregon in the United States. Over that 30 years their range has evolved and increased to include more than 70 tools and devices. All Leatherman multi tools have certain attributes that make them perfect for particular applications and with their lifetime warranty.

When mechanical engineer Tim Leatherman sold his first multi-tool in 1983, he set out to create products to improve people’s lives. Tim’s traditions of application-driven design, superior materials and detailed finish work have grown Leatherman from humble beginnings, in his co-founder’s dad’s machine shop and the first order of 500 tools, to more than 70 million tools sold in 100 countries around the world. Tim Leatherman has definitely fulfilled his mission.

And if you don’t mind from those profits Leatherman is giving back to the community /charities in the form of 100K grants on the application as per link below

Now the other reason I can so categorically recommend not only Leatherman products but the customer service is my personal dealings with them.  Anybody who has spent any time in the Australian bush knows how good the quality of their tools are and how many times a day you reach for the Leatherman on your belt. In fact they are made of such good material and are so handy that I admit I have been forced to used their tools on a number occasions to complete jobs way more than what they were designed for and hence had to use the “customer return policy” a number of times. But also from just complete over use whereby the blades for example just wore down to nothing and needed replacing. How many times do you take your product, whatever it is to the place of purchase and they require the receipt, and all the details of when/ why /how and why fore and the whole procedure just becomes a nightmare so that you walk away in despair and don’t take up the option of replacement. But Leatherman completely backs its brand and product – no ifs no buts. If it’s a genuine Leatherman with their stamp on it, the damaged article is completely replaced with no questions asked and they even post it freight free across the world. How good is that? I mean somebody actually standing behind their product and saying , I manufacture a damn good product and am prepared to put my money where my mouth is and if that product breaks or is damaged or whatever I will replace it free of charge to you my loyal customer.  Now if that sounds too good to be true, I’m here to tell you I’ve been there and done it and I’ve got the tee shirt.  On two occasions I have returned knives for replacement and have had two brand new replacement knives posted to me, one from Leatherman Australia and one from the US.

So to the big banks and similar financial institutions making such huge profits at the expense of their customers for the benefit of their shareholders, take a bit of Leatherman advice and become  better corporate/community citizens, your customers will love you for it and just may become more loyal –build real loyalty instead of deal loyalty.

And shareholders perhaps need to do more due diligence on the company and its operation prior investment and think in terms of your children’s financial future regards a time frame and also keep the buggers honest. From the “Speakers Crack” blog page

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