Don’t Kid Yourself: Departures of Roger Ailes, Kevin Roberts Change Nothing in Sex Discrimination

In a matter of weeks, two senior executives at global businesses lost their jobs related to alleged sexual harassment or clueless talk about gender.

CEO Roger Ailes is out at Fox News. Chairman Kevin Roberts is out at Saatchi & Saatchi.

On the surface, it almost looks like we’ve made some progress on the sex discrimination front. Dig a little deeper, though, and it looks like more of the same: a flurry of public attention that ultimately will peter out.

I explained why neither case is a game-changer for women at work in my column today for TheStreet.com.

Second Place for National Society of Newspaper Columnists Award

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists said today that my columns for TheStreet took second place in its annual awards competition in the online category.

From the judges: “Susan Antilla turns a spotlight on some lesser known yet vital issues in the financial sector, where there is plenty of room for skepticism and suspicion. Her spritely explanations present a common sense view of the complicated inner workings of this industry. As consumers are increasingly left to equip themselves with information to protect their financial well-being, writers like Antilla are providing a true service.”

The Unbelievable Story of One Broker and Her Firm Fighting to Clean Her Tarnished Record

The brokerage industry works hard to keep customer complaints out of public view, with aggressive firms fighting to remove grievances that sully their brokers’ records. The interminable campaign to sanitize the dossier of former Royal Alliance Associates broker Kathleen J. Tarr is a disheartening case in point. You can read the story here.

How Bad Financial Advice Can Literally Make You Sick

Holly Marchak and her husband lost $2.3 million when they were defrauded in the Ponzi scheme of the so-called “Brooklyn Madoff.” Nine years later, she’s still paying for it.

She spends thousands of dollars a year on prescription drugs alone. Marchak, who lives in Orlando, Fla., began weeping as she told me the story of Philip Barry, now in federal prison, who defrauded her and her husband Alex Marchak. The money had been proceeds from the sale of a building that housed a funeral home the couple owned.

Marchak, 62, says she takes medication for anxiety, high blood pressure, asthma and heart problems. “There are times we don’t want to wake up in the morning,” she said. “My doctor has a mile-long, thick file on me and says it’s all stress-related.”

Lawyers who represent investors say the stress of a serious financial loss can trigger a whole new wave of costs for clients. Medical research has linked stress to viral infections, asthma, atherosclerosis, ulcers and increased risk for diabetesmellitus, among other diseases. More focused studies highlight the hazards of financial stress. You can read the full story here.

How Wall Street Keeps Outrageous Gender Bias Quiet 20 Years After the Boom-Boom Room

Everybody loves a half-price sale, and if you’re a recruiter on Wall Street, there’s always a markdown on female employees.

Women in finance last year earned 52 cents for every dollar that men made in a job category the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “securities, commodities and financial services sales agents.” That’s about as bad as it gets for women workers. It was the biggest pay gap among 119 occupations evaluated in a recent report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

But the revealing lawsuits that used to challenge this outrageous pay gap and economically hostile work environment to women are few and far between today – and that’s how Wall Street wants it. The country’s biggest banks have made it harder than ever for women with complaints of unequal pay or treatment to make their cases in a public forum.

 It was 20 years ago last month when three women in the Garden City, New York branch of Smith Barney triggered an industry-wide migraine, filing a class-action lawsuit that exposed egregious sexual harassment and unequal pay. It was dubbed the “boom-boom room” suit, the namesake of a party room in the branch’s basement. Click here for the rest of the story.

Decades After ‘Boom-Boom Room’ Suit, Bias Persists for Women

Twenty-three women sued Smith Barney for sexual harassment and pay discrimination in an explosive class-action lawsuit filed 20 years ago this month. It became known as the “boom-boom room” suit, named after a basement party room at Smith Barney’s branch office in Garden City, N.Y. Nearly 2,000 women joined the case, exposing the sordid antics of Wall Street’s testosterone-driven culture.

Smith Barney paid $150 million in arbitration awards and settlements in the case, and it and other Wall Street firms rushed to set up anti-harassment training, employee hotlines and programs to recruit women.

Twenty years later, permanent change is less obvious.

“You may no longer have strippers coming for afternoon entertainment, but that doesn’t mean you are treated as an equal,” said Anne C. Vladeck of the New York employment law firm Vladeck, Raskin & Clark. “It’s not quite as blatant as what went on in the boom-boom room, but it’s still there in a way that makes it very hard for women to succeed. Companies on Wall Street are just not changing.”

You can read the full story I wrote for The New York Times here.

Society of the Silurians 2016 Excellence in Journalism Award

The Society of the Silurians said today that I have won the 2016 Excellence in Journalism Award for Commentary and Editorials for my columns for TheStreet.com. From the judges:

“Watch what Wall Street does, not what it says,” Antilla enjoins her readers and, heeding her own counsel, she does just that in a string of columns, built on solid reporting and trenchant analysis, that expose the duplicitous practices unscrupulous stockbrokers employ to intentionally mislead and, ultimately, fleece their clients.

Retirement Fallout From a Penny-Stock Scam: “We Don’t Do Hardly Anything”

Twenty investors await a Finra arbitration hearing in September against two clearing firms that handled their trades in a penny-stock fraud. Did COR Clearing and Wilson-Davis ignore obvious red flags? You can read about it in my column today for TheStreet.com.

Excellence in Financial Journalism Award

The New York State Society of CPAs said today that I have won the 2016 Excellence in Financial Journalism Award for my columns for TheStreet.com.

From the judges:

Susan Antilla used her solid reporting and analytical skills in “Wall Street Has a Unique Way of ‘Protecting’ Small Investors,” as she exposed Wall Street for its efforts to avoid change that could possibly improve access to stockbroker records. Throughout her research, she also called out the securities industry for its empty arguments that tougher regulations would force brokers to drop smaller investors as customers.

 

How Many Bad Brokers Could There Be? Don’t Play the Percentages

When you consider that 73 percent of financial advisers who get caught engaging in misconduct are still doing business with investors a year later, you could just cross your fingers and hope your broker is one of the good ones.

Better yet, you could leaf through the grim results of a study by three finance professors released earlier this month. They looked at records of 1.2 million people registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra, to do business with the public. I wrote about the study in my latest column for TheStreet. You can read it here.

Vanguard Says Sending 71 Account E-Mails to Wrong Investor Was ‘Isolated Matter’

On Feb. 11, a puzzled customer of The Vanguard Group noticed that the firm had sent him 72 emails. But only one of them was meant for him.

Vanguard has a history of problems with online security and security of customer information, which I’ve written about here and here.

For its latest glitch, you can read my column today.

Jamie Dimon’s Makeover: From Whiner to Would-Be Statesman

Remember the Jamie Dimon who couldn’t complain enough about how Wall Street was “under assault” by regulators? Well, these days, he’s saying stuff like this:

I completely understand that society has a perfectly legitimate right to put in structures and regulations and rules that make it fairer, better, cleaner.

You read that right. Perfectly legitimate.

The new, reasonable CEO of JP Morgan Chase talked to Bloomberg Markets magazine on March 1 about the financial system, safety, and the future of his bank.

Before you get too choked up about his noble intentions — he stressed that customers always come first — do remember that we’re talking about a company that just admitted wrongdoing in a case where the Securities and Exchange Commission said it had failed to tell clients that it was favoring expensive, firm-managed mutual funds over cheaper alternatives.

You can read my column for TheStreet here.

Penny-Stock Broker Gets Indicted, But What Took So Long?

On Jan. 6, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged stockbroker Larry S. Werbel with conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, investment adviser fraud and making false statements. But regulators had been aware of Werbel’s dicey recommendations of penny stocks to clueless customers five years before that.The sordid tale is but the latest example of authorities doing too little, too late.

You can read my column for TheStreet here.

Is the Madoff Miniseries Making You Nervous About Your Broker?

As you’re curled up on the couch watching ABC’s Bernie Madoff series, it’s understandable if you start getting a little edgy. What about the guy or gal running your money?

I took the occasion of ABC’s widely watched series to remind investors that there actually are things they can do to check a broker’s record. You can read my column for TheStreet here.

Chamber of Commerce Gives Wall Street, Polluters, What They Ask For

When it comes to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, you know the drill. Regulation is bad. Dirty energy is good.

And why shouldn’t it be? We are talking, of course, about Corporate America’s biggest booster.

In advance of the annual “State of American Business” speech by Thomas J. Donohue, the Godfather of corporate lobbying, I made some predictions about what the speech would include.  I concede it was not exactly a challenging task. But I did have a little fun with the Chamber’s always-predictable hypocrisies. You can read my column for TheStreet.com here.