New gig for AllianceBernstein face The face of AllianceBernstein for many, director of intermediary relationships Bruce Garratt, has left Australia for a US-based role with the manager. However there is some conjecture over whether Garratt’s move was prompted by the uncertain nature of his gig here – planners tied to AB’s majority owner, Axa, account for a large chunk of its inflows – or the promise of a different kind of ‘gig’ altogether, given his daughter is a burgeoning rock star in the States. Going by the stage name Laura Wilde, Garratt’s offspring has been attracting a lot of attention for her original songs, which to these ears sound a bit like Joan Jett or Suzi Quattro with a modern twist. In a recent interview with American website Planet-Loud. com, Laura gives Dad a nod for his role in building up her US music industry contacts, admitting she’s “tagged along” on a half-dozen of his business trips to AB headquarters in New York. Managed by her mother, Emily, Laura promises to be the biggest musical success out of the financial services industry since the son of AFR veteran John Wasiliev, Alex, changed his surname to ‘Lloyd’.

CFAs and the ‘Wobegon’ effect Okay, suspend your senses for a minute and take a trip back to Lake Wobegon, the fictional town in Minnesota, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average,” according to Garrison Keillor, its creator. Unbalanced thinks those who’ve earned Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) accreditation just ooze ‘the Wobegon effect’. The ‘illusory superiority’ of the Wobegons has been observed in CEOs and stock market analysts. So it shouldn’t be too surprising to learn of the self-confidence that CFA charterholders demonstrated during an interactive presentation delivered by James Ware, an ‘investment culture consultant’ and himself a CFA, in Sydney and Melbourne last month. Speaking about ‘Ethical Leadership in the Investment Firm’, Ware asked audience members to respond anonymously, using remote control ‘clickers’, to dicey scenarios in which their ethical stances would be revealed. Ware polled the audience on questions such as, ‘Would you torture a known terrorist to get information that would prevent a catastrophic terrorist attack?’ and ‘Is it right to fudge your performance figures (because everyone else does it, right?) to win a mandate – and then do a really good job for the client?’ After further soul-searching, the audiences were asked if they thought they were more ethical than the average person. We were taken aback when Ware revealed the cumulative response from CFA chapters to this question: a whopping 97 per cent of CFA audiences around the world think they are more ethical than the average person. The Sydney CFAs proved a little more humble than their worldwide peers, with less than 70 per cent thinking they were more ethical than Joe Public. But their inner Wobegon emerged when Ware asked if they believed asset managers were breaching ethical standards by doing things like fudging returns, compromising performance by exceeding capacity or downplaying the qualities of a professional who has just left. Fully 93 per cent of the audience believed asset managers committed such ethical breaches – but only 67 per cent believed the company they worked for was guilty of doing the same.

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