The name of a new research assistant at Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. was misspelled in yesterday's Banking & Finance column in the Business section. The assistant to New York-based analyst Sy Jacobs is Michael Corasaniti.
The Sun regrets the error.
30 jobs abolished at First National
First National Bank of Maryland, in a drive to cut costs and red tape, has "restructured" out of existence some 30 job positions. Few of those cuts resulted in layoffs, insiders and a spokesman said, because most people were reassigned or accepted early retirement packages.
In an internal memo dated July 17, Executive Vice President Joseph E. Peters explained the complicated realignment to First National's division officers as a way to "improve and enhance the line of communication among our customers, our commercial account officers and our management team."
Essentially, the realignment has cut out a layer of middle management in retail branch operations and commercial lending, giving line officers more authority and easier access to upper management. The move also has given more power to a few officers, including Bill Young, now head of regional commercial lending everywhere but the Baltimore metro area; and Scott Wilfong, who now heads retail branch operations and commercial lending in the Baltimore area.
"An integral part of our tactical plan," Mr. Peters wrote in vivid corporate-speak, "has been to determine ways to focus more clearly on customer needs, to get closer to the customer and to enhance our communications processes to best serve our customers." Tom Peters would be proud.
Bank's error is tale of riches to rags
And now a note from the world of high finance: Imagine you stick your ATM card in a Signet Bank machine, as Glen Burnie resident and Maryland National Bank customer Tonia Bailey did one July evening. With thoughts of overdue rent, children to feed and bill collectors at the door, you glance at the account balance on your receipt to find the tidy sum of $8,391,876. "I looked down and said, 'Good god almighty!' " Ms. Bailey recalled.
About two weeks and $3,200 later, Ms. Bailey says, Maryland National caught up with her and threatened legal action. She's agreed to pay $25 a week until the debt is retired, and admits what she did was wrong, but doesn't feel she deserves to be prosecuted.
A bank official said the problem came when a teller, processing a credit memo, typed the form number, 8391876, in the space for balance, thus enriching Ms. Bailey beyond her wildest dreams. Maryland National isn't interested in legal action, the spokesman said, it only wants what any bank wants: its money.
Harry Ford makes list of best stockbrokers
"The Winner's Circle," a book published this month about 10 of the nation's best stockbrokers, features a chapter on Legg Mason's own Harry M. Ford Jr. The gushing book's dust jacket promises "you'll be thoroughly inspired by comments like this: 'I try to do well for people. And because I do well for people, I do well for myself (not from Mr. Ford)."
The book is a lesson by example of how some of America's most suc-cessful stockbrokers made it big, and for the most part the advice is routine: Cold calling is a "numbers game," keep the client's best interest in mind, know your products.
From the perspective of Mr. Ford, a 59-year-old Baltimore native who joined Legg Mason in 1964, service is everything. In fact, on Oct. 19, 1987, the day the stock market crashed, Legg Mason's building caught fire, but Mr. Ford kept his customers in mind, refusing to leave the building until he was sure the computers would save his clients' data.
Today, with more than 750 clients and about $120 million in client accounts, Mr. Ford is not actively seeking new customers. Still, with the new book, "you would think you might be flooded with
calls," he said. The phone line's been silent. Alex. Brown, already strong in financial services research, just got stronger.
Recognizing the growth of non-traditional financial companies and their incursion into bank territory, the Baltimore company hired former Mabon Securities analyst Sy Jacobs and his assistant, Michael Corasantini, to head a new segment of coverage called Specialty Financial Services, including mortgage banks, money management firms and consumer credit companies.
"We see increasingsegmentation in the financial sector, giving rise to an opportunity for highly focused companies to grow rapidly," said William Paternotte, director of research.
Before joining Mabon, Mr. Jacobs was an analyst with Salomon Brothers, and with L. F. Rothschild before that. Joseph W. Janssens Jr., who left Miles & Stockbridge to head Frank, Bernstein, Conaway & Goldman's banking practice in 1988, has become a partner with the banking and public finance department of Semmes, Bowen & Semmes. The difference is merely one of size, said Mr. Janssens, 57. Frank, Bernstein's department had about nine lawyers; his new firm boasts about 20 to 25 banking attorneys.