Peregrine Financial’s Founder Made Wrong Choices in Another High Profile Breach-Of-Integrity Scandal

February 16th, 2013
Jim Thomas

On February 1, the Wall Street Journal reported yet another outrage in the brokerage, futures, and securities industries. Russell Wasendorf Sr., founder of Peregrine Financial Group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, admitted improper use of client funds and deceiving regulators. Losses are expected to total $190 million. The executive’s son accused his father of making “poor choices.”

Performance with Integrity necessitates the deliberate choice. The individual, the company, the partnership, the organization elects to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right ideas.

Right choices include upholding the accepted standard of the industry, firm, group, profession. Of his own volition, Wasendorf chose to breach a sacrosanct standard of the futures industry by diverting client funds for personal use. He also admitted to running a Ponzi scheme

In his influential book, Your Greatest Power, Psychologist J. Martin Kohe writes that the power to choose is the greatest single power of the human psyche.
A pre-determined choice, that is key. One cannot know the proper route to take without first thinking about it. Not necessarily the superior choice, but—by all means—avoidance of the wrong choice.

The Wassendorf breach had devastating consequences. Peregrine is in bankruptcy. His clients have lost millions, and he himself faces ruin and prison. Russell Wasendorf, Jr., chief operations officer, stated “My father’s poor choices shattered my family, ruined my reputation, fractured my marriage, and separated me from my oldest son and close friends.”

But all is not rotten in America. It is full of good people—noble, selfless, generous people. They push when others call for retreat. Their lives professions, and businesses are standing monuments to Performance with Integrity.

ATTENTION. If you are interested in advancing the cause of Integrity in America. If you seek benefits and pay-offs of greater integrity in your occupation, organization, profession, or enterprise, join The Alliance for Integrity on Facebook at Facebook.com/allianceforintegty.



Morgan Stanley Enforces Its Code of Conduct—“Leading With Integrity”

January 8th, 2013
Jim Thomas

Founded in 1935, Morgan Stanley is one of America’s leading financial firms. From the beginning, its partners ascribed heavy emphasis to upright conduct. Morgan executive, Bryan Jennings, found just how heavy when he was fired over a cab-fare dispute with a New York taxi driver.

All Morgan employees are required to read, acknowledge they have read, and abide by “Leading With Integrity.” It reads in part:

 ”We promote a culture of integrity by taking personal responsibility for our actions making the right decision and being accountable…If you violate this Code or any other Morgan Stanley policy of procedure, you will become subject to the full range of disciplinary sanctions, including termination of your employment…”

The Jennings incident occurred on the night of December 21, 2011, when the investment banker departed a gathering at a Manhattan bar following a charity event. Mr. Jennings climbed into a cab for the 40-mile ride to his home in Darien, Connecticut. Nearing end of the ride the driver is said to have demanded $294. A fracas ensued with rider fleeing the vehicle leaving driver with a lacerated scalp. The driver claimed Mr. Jennings pulled a pen knife from his briefcase.

On February 29, Darien Police arrested Mr. Jennings and charged him with second-degree assault and “intimidation by bias.”Criminal charges were ultimately dropped, but the episode became a matter of public record.

In early October. Mr. Jennings was fired. The Wall Street Journal reported that Morgan officials declined to discuss the details. However persons close to the case indicated the cause was the investment banker’s violation of behavioral standards set out in “Leading With Integrity.” Mr. Jennings’s altercation was viewed as damaging to the firm’s reputation.

Morgan Stanley has hold on an iron-clad truism: harm to the firm’s reputation is as damaging as other forms of outsize losses. And, executives at the firm are acutely aware that the great underpinning of reputation is conduct with character and integrity. Boiled to its bare –bone essence integrity means adherence to standards, principles, and conviction that withstand scrutiny, that are beneficial to the parties—even when adherence is difficult, inconvenient, or unprofitable.

In today’s scandal-plagued financial industry, Morgan Stanley’s actions stand stout as an oak.

[For more complete details of this story see The Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2012, page C1.]



WHEN INTEGRITY FAILS; THE CASE OF GENERAL PETRAEUS

December 3rd, 2012
Jim Thomas

From every standpoint, the scandal surrounding General Petraeus demonstrates once again a universal truth. That is, when it counts, in all settings, the failure of Integrity bears detrimental consequences. At the highest levels of government and public trust, the consequences become of monumental import.

Consider the evidence. When Petraeus made the wrong choices—and Integrity is always about choice—the nation lost a valuable public servant. Shame poured on the Army and the CIA. Disbelief and dismay spread wide and deep, further diminishing confidence in the institutions of government. At the personal level, the scandal besmirched the General’s reputation and self-respect, priceless intangibles no one can afford to lose.

Where the breach? The First Great Virtue—is based on a fundamental tenet. It requires adherence to standards that withstand moral scrutiny, that to some extent in some manner are beneficial. In simple terms, the tenet means holding fast to time-honored principles, even when difficult, unprofitable, or inconvenient.

In the Petreus case, the governing standards were encoded at West Point, in the Army, and at CIA. When the General let go of them, the breach was joined and unwanted consequences burst like a tornado. In this hyper connected transparent age of the Internet, no sin goes unnoticed. Somebody is watching, precisely as the General himself once warned an Army audience.

The sovereign virtue of Integrity does not always demand the superior choice. By all means, however, it demands avoidance of the wrong choice. May all view the fall of David Petraeus—and learn.

.From every standpoint, the scandal surrounding General Petraeus demonstrates once again a universal truth. That is, when it counts, in all settings, the failure of Integrity bears detrimental consequences. At the highest levels of government and public trust, the consequences become of monumental import.

Consider the evidence. When Petraeus made the wrong choices—and Integrity is always about choice—the nation lost a valuable public servant. Shame poured on the Army and the CIA. Disbelief and dismay spread wide and deep, further diminishing confidence in the institutions of government. At the personal level, the scandal besmirched the General’s reputation and self-respect, priceless intangibles no one can afford to lose.

Where the breach? The First Great Virtue—is based on a fundamental tenet. It requires adherence to standards that withstand moral scrutiny, that to some extent in some manner are beneficial. In simple terms, the tenet means holding fast to time-honored principles, even when difficult, unprofitable, or inconvenient.

In the Petreus case, the governing standards were encoded at West Point, in the Army, and at CIA. When the General let go of them, the breach was joined and unwanted consequences burst like a tornado. In this hyper connected transparent age of the Internet, no sin goes unnoticed. Somebody is watching, precisely as the General himself once warned an Army audience.

The sovereign virtue of Integrity does not always demand the superior choice. By all means, however, it demands avoidance of the wrong choice. May all view the fall of David Petraeus—and learn.

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Walmart Renews Emphasis On Integrity

November 28th, 2012
Jim Thomas

Earlier this year WalMart held its annual international employee pep rally. Thousands gathered in a basketball arena at Fayetteville. The meeting took place during a period when the great retailer was investigating troublesome reports of bribery from its installations in China and Mexico.

 In their appearances before the large crowd company executives called for renewed emphasis on Integrity. Chief Executive Mike Duke declared that a basic tenet of Integrity demands “playing by the rules.” To this International Division Chief Doug McMillon added that Integrity means “playing by the rules when no one is watching.” Both statements are pregnant with truth and meaning.

 That a great company like WalMart would promote a culture of Integrity stands as a monument to its importance in business and commerce. The same holds for professionals and non-profits.

 Be assured. WalMart executives know that PERFORMANCE WITH INTEGRITY is an imperative for personnel at every level who…

  • PLACE A PREMIUM ON THE COMPANY’S TRUSTWORTHINESS AND REPUTATION;
  • INSIST ON KEEPING THEIR WORD IN MATTERS GREAT AND SMALL;
  • ASCRIBE A HEAVY WEIGHT TO ACCOUNTABILITY;
  • DELIVER AS PROMISED, WHEN PROMISED, IN THE MANNER PROMISED;
  • PRACTICE SCRUPULUS HONESTY;
  • REFUSE TO PLAY FAST AND LOOSE WITH THE RULES;
  • WHAO KNOW HOW THEY PERFORM IS AS IMPORTANT WHAT THEY PERFORM.

You ask: What benefits flow from an investment in Integrity? Here are but a few… 

  • CREDIBILITY, RELIABILITY, TRUST, REPUTATION;
  • A MAGNIFICATION THE NAME AND BRAND;
  • STEADFAST VENDORS;
  • LOYAL CUSTOMERS, CLIENTS, AND CONSUMERS;
  • DEDICATED  EMPLOYEES WITH PRIDE AND SELF-RESPECT;
  • CONFIDENT INVESTORS, SHAREHOLDERS, PARTNERS
  • A SHARPER EDGE IN THE MARKETPLACE;
  •   PREVENTION OF FINES, PENALTIES, COSTLY LITIGATION;
  •  ULTIMATELY, HIGHER SALES AND PROFITS.

 

 

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WORKSHOP AVAILABLE: “IDENTIFYING, RESOLVING, AND PREVENTING INTEGRITY PROBLEMS”

October 27th, 2012
Jim Thomas

Professional speaker and seminar leader, Jim Thomas, and Alliance for Integrity, LLC (AFI) are offering a Workshop developed to address a critical need. In today’s super-charged, fast-paced market place, its lessons are more valuable than ever.

Designed for businesses, corporations, and professionals alike, the Workshop delivers time-tested tools: (1) for preventing litigation, violations, fines, and penalties; (2) for eliminating conflicted interests, lack of accountability, loss of credibility, diminished standards, self-dealing, fabrication, scandals, and ethical fiascoes.

The Workshop draws from Jim’s expertise, years of experience, study, and research. After illuminating the real meaning of Performance with Integrity, the program presents a collection of cases based on actual events from a wide range of circumstances. Attendees analyze and assess them. Did the parties exercise Integrity? From which end of the transaction? Did they breach Integrity? Was a better path open to them? Did they deliver as promised, when promised, in the manner promised? Did they demonstrate that HOW they perform is as important as WHAT they perform?

The Workshop emphasizes pay offs when Integrity is preached and practiced. Among them: heightened trust and reputation; a magnification of the company, firm, group, and brand. Additional benefits are loyal staff, employees, customers and clients; confident investors, share holders, and partners; a sharper edge among competitors.

Engage this Workshop as an additional means of gaining Integrity’s everlasting assets and advantages. Strengthen the enterprise, organization, or practice from top to bottom. For a date go to the website allianceforintegrity.com. Or call Jim at 478 272 8480 or 706 395 6223.



IN THE CORPORATE CULTURE: THE HIGH COST OF EVADING THE TRUTH—THE JACK IN THE BOX CASE

October 22nd, 2012
Jim Thomas

In any organization, suppression of the truth, in all of its myriad variations, is a lethal adversary of Integrity. Without Integrity good works, products, and services find fewer and fewer takers. The competitive edge is diminished and damaged. The penalties, too, are often high.

Note the case of Jack in the Box, as reported in Johnson and Phillips’ book, Absolute Honesty, American Management Association, 2003.

The case arose during a period marked by contaminated and poisoned products appearing in the market place. The Tylenol case was among them. That company’s upright chief executive minced no words and told the unfettered truth, while removing its product from the market. It came back stronger than ever because consumers believed they could trust it.

Jack in the Box adopted a different approach. From 1992 through January 1993 accounts were publicized that contaminated beef served at company stores was linked to the illness of 700 people. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta concluded the culprit originated in tainted meat. The material was insufficiently cooked at company restaurants.

Washington State Health Department confirmed findings at Disease Control. Whereupon Jack in the Box immediately denied all responsibility. It claimed its sickened customers had dined at other restaurants before becoming ill. Six days of silence followed.

President Robert Nugent of Jack in the Box admitted his company was in fact the source of the contaminated food. However, he combined the admission with an attack on the Health Department’s failure to distribute food handling regulations in a timely manner.

His approach proved ill-advised. Public response was as negative as it was disastrous. Newspaper editors far and wide accused Nugent and his company of shirking its responsibilities. By the end of March 1993 the debacle had cost Jack in the Box in excess of $30million in lost revenue. Liability damages eventually exceed $100 million.

Harry Beckwith, one of the country’s leading authorities on marketing, author of the acclaimed book, Selling the Invisible, has this advice for his clients: “Invest in and preach Integrity. And tell the truth, always. For even when it hurts it will help.”



A Mistakenly Shipped Cargo and the Tenets of Integrity

October 12th, 2012
Jim Thomas

[This incident transpired in interstate commerce in the early 1950s. Only names are disguised.]

 Broad River Kennels in Kentucky traded in hunting dogs. It advertised nationally in Field & Stream and other outdoor publications. Wording of its ads was limited. They listed hounds for sale by type, breed, and cost. Payment F.O. B. by rail.  Buyer was granted a ten-day trial.  If the hound proved unsatisfactory, buyer could return the animal for a refund, provided he paid cost of shipment. No other words appeared in the ad save those stating “first class hunters.”

 Hank Jones, a Georgia resident, was a serious hunter and hounds man. Relying on a Broad River ad, he ordered via letter a Blue tick Coon Hound, listed for $50, plus shipping costs.  In due course, the animal arrived by rail in the customary wooden crate. Shipping documents stated the dog’s name was “Rattler.” The hound was not a Blue tick.  However he was a good looking dog, lanky, red-ticked, with a tongue like church bells.

  Jones liked the looks of the animal and his deep-throated tongue. He neither objected nor gave notice of the kennel’s failure to ship a Blue tick. Instead, he paid price and costs and assumed ownership. Payment was received and accepted.

  In field trials, Rattler promptly proved a dynamite coon hound.  Jones recalled that years earlier he had seen one similar hound. With help of a librarian, he identified the animal as an American English Coon Hound.

  Two weeks after expiration of the ten-day trial period, Jones received a certified letter from Bill Boswell, owner of Broad River Kennels. The letter stated Rattler was one of Boswell’s personal hunting dogs. He had paid $1500 for him three years earlier and had the “papers” to prove it. An inexperienced worker mistakenly shipped the wrong hound. He asked Jones to return the dog, with an offer to refund the purchase price and pay shipping and handling costs.

 Jones refused. He asserted that purchase and sale of the dog, in every respect,     was an above-board, arms-length transaction. Rattler was his, fair and square. He intended to keep it, and did. 

 The Cardinal Virtue of Integrity turns on doing the thing one should do because it is right, notwithstanding no rule, law, or regulation require it. Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote “There is a difference between what you have a right to do, and what is the right thing to do.

 

 In light of the foregoing:  How do you come down? Did Jones act with Integrity? Was he justified in keeping Rattler? Or, should he have complied with the original owner’s request and returned the animal?

 

 

 



AN AIRCRAFT ENGINEER UPHOLDS TEST STANDARDS

September 29th, 2012
Jim Thomas

In 1961 engineer John Doe (name disguised at his request) was employed in the test laboratory at Lockheed Aircraft at Marietta Georgia. Lockheed was then a supplier of aircraft for the military. He was the youngest and least experienced of his co-workers.

At the time, those who designed the parts in question and those charged with testing them comprised a single operations unit.

Doe’s duties included testing of aircraft parts, as well as assistance with drafting reports of the test results.  A piece of electrical paneling came in for testing. The device contained a series of circular openings, tiny holes for transmission of electrical current. When Doe ran the test some openings failed. While a limited number were allowed, in his judgment too many had failed.

When he informed those who had designed the panel, they rejected his opinion. They concluded the failures were merely random, in numbers allowed by test standards. They proceeded to report them as random failures. After all, they were more experienced than he.

Doe weighed the hard evidence and his choices. After much deliberation, he elected to by-pass his immediate superiors and co-workers. He provided the Department Head his own assessment of the test results. After reviewing them the man immediately agreed. He rejected the random test and promptly divided the designer-test unit, each with separate and distinct responsibilities. At a meeting of the entire department he said, “We were fortunate that the one with the least experience had integrity.”

Questions:

Do you agree with the opinion and actions of the Department Head?

Was there a lack of integrity by anyone?

How do you see the outcome?



COACHES AND ATHLETES BENEFIT BIG FROM PERFORMANCE WITH INTEGRITY

September 18th, 2012
Jim Thomas

Coaches and Players Benefit Big From Performance with Integrity

When played with Integrity, football has no downside. While drawing approval from all corners, it simultaneously elevates the stature of players, coaches, and the entire program—from top to bottom.

When coaches invest in a penetrating climate of Integrity big benefits begin to flow…

• Upright Conduct of Players and Coaches;

• Greater Trustworthiness, Respect, and Reputation;

• A Magnification of the Team, Individual Players, and Coaches;

• Greater Levels of Credibility, Accountability, Responsibility;

• Deeper Loyalties among Fans, School Administrators, Alumni, the Media;

• The Sharper Edge in Competition, Including Recruiting

Rarely is it posted in the locker room or printed in play books. Nor is it about discipline, prohibited conduct, punishment, or expulsion.

Instead it embraces the everlasting “should’s,” as distinguished from the “should not’s.”

Integrity is the factor that generates conduct with no gaps.

The athlete leads no double life. Transparency prevails—on the gridiron and elsewhere. Thus, players reflect authenticity. They become the genuine articles.

Football players with Integrity have an unmistakable presence.

They practice scrupulous honesty. They keep their word in matters great and small. They strive to deliver as promised, when promised, in the manner promised. They stand accountable for their deeds, athletic and otherwise. They know HOW they practice and play is as important as WHAT they practice and play. To the alluring temptation, to the ill-advised compromise, they have the power to say NO.

Players like Johnny Unitas, Doak Walker, Charlie Trippi, for example, do not waver. They adhere to ideals and inner convictions, irrespective of the difficulty, inconvenience, or consequences of doing so. And, their adherence is beneficial to all concerned.

How does the coaching staff implant a culture of Integrity? Show their players examples of Integrity in action. Lay out to the squad the oak-hard tenets that govern its practice, motivations that compel it, and how breaches of it can decimate in ten seconds reputations months and years in the making.

An excellent source to draw from is Integrity, The Heart and Soul in Sports from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Kansas City, Mo 1 800 289 0909

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How Blind Loyalty Upends Upright Conduct

August 29th, 2012
Jim Thomas

Brent Scowcroft, White House Chief of Staff to President George H.W. Bush, said “Loyalty ends where Integrity is jeopardized.” We all do well to take note.

Consider the case of Egil “Bud” Krogh, himself White House assistant counsel to President Nixon. In 1975, for his conduct in the Watergate Scandal, Krogh plead guilty to criminal charges and went to prison. Following release he spent years agonizing over his role in the biggest scandal in U.S. history. During his reflections, he sought to single out the impediments to integrity pervading the Nixon White House.

In 2007 he published a book entitled Integrity, Why Good People Make Wrong Choices. It contains his opinions of the culprits. Among others: “blind loyalty to the group, the group leader, or both.” He lays out his own view at the time that loyalty to the President overrode all other considerations—the law, rules and regulations, the civil rights of others. Blind loyalty, he admits, caused him to direct the break in of Daniel Ellsberg’s physician’s office. It was but one of many misdeeds in which he confesses to making ‘the wrong choice.’

Loyalty has its virtue. People feel numerous obligations: to family members, to one’s profession, employer, city, company, civic organization and so on. A dilemma arises when those loyalties conflict with loyalty to a higher interest. Then a choice becomes mandatory.

David Kaczynski, a forty-six year-old social worker in New York State, confronted such a dilemma. In reading public statements issued by the Unabomber, he recognized words and phrases as those of his brother, Ted Kacynski. After excruciating deliberations, he informed the FBI and the Unabomber was captured. Above the powerful loyalty of brotherhood, David planted himself on the side of a greater interest–public safety. Said he, “The thought that another person would die and I was in a position to stop that—I couldn’t live with that.”

An extreme case? absolutely. But, it offers a crystal-clear lesson on how to prevent loyalty from breaching one’s integrity, from demolishing one’s self-respect. In the presence of conflict, subordinate personal loyalties to the greater good.

[For more on loyalty and the Unabomber, See Michael J. Sandel, Justice; What’s the Right Thing to Do, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 2009, pp 239-240.]