The president who told us he’d have the backs of the “forgotten man and woman” is turning out to be Wall Street’s best friend. Donald J. Trump has asked the Department of Labor to examine a pro-investor DOL rule to see if it might be reducing investor access to retirement products — the same sorry argument that Wall Street has been spouting.
The “investor access” thing largely comes down to this: Force stockbrokers to sell products that are investors’ best interest, and they may have to stop selling stuff that’s bogus, risky, ill-conceived, or all of the above. And that would be terrible. For your stockbroker. You can read about it my latest column for TheStreet, here.
Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson did it before she sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. And now a Los Angeles-based television news anchor has done the same, gathering secret recordings of the supervisor she ultimately sued.
Karla Amezola, an award-winning anchor at the Spanish-language network Estrella TV, sued Estrella parent Liberman Broadcasting and her supervisor, Andres Angulo, in June. Her case, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, has gone largely unnoticed for months.
I spoke with Amezola’s lawyers for my column published at TheStreet.com today, and asked if Amezola had recorded the defendant. They told me she had, but declined to allow me to listen to the recordings. Sexual harassment cases have always been tough ones for plaintiffs to win, but the trend towards secret taping may finally reverse that. You can read today’s column here.
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.
The American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) said I’ve won its Northeast Region Award of Excellence in the Original Web Commentary category for my columns at TheStreet. I’m also a finalist in ASBPE’s national contest.
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 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.
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 diabetes
mellitus, among other
diseases. More focused studies highlight the hazards of financial stress. You can read the full story here.
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.
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.
The New York Press Club said today that I have won its 2016 award for consumer reporting on the Internet for my stories about cybersecurity problems at The Vanguard Group.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.