AKF Partners

Abbott, Keeven & Fisher PartnersPartners In Hyper Growth

I Need a Shower

In our article, Ethics: How Good Companies Go Bad we made the case that most people don’t start out bad but rather make small steps in that direction over time.  After yesterday, I feel I may be wrong.

From time to time, we find ourselves spending time with investment bankers.  This encounter may be at a conference, or while we are working with one of our client companies on financing, etc.  One thing is true nearly every time I have an “IB” encounter – the feeling that I need to go scrub myself as if I just swam through a sewage treatment plant.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some very nice and very good bankers out there.  But the number of times I find myself questioning their approach to financing on the grounds of ethical concerns just far exceeds the number of times I find myself doing it for any other profession with which we have interactions.  I don’t know why so many bankers are like this – maybe its as we indicated in our previous article; they just take small steps over time to get the deal done and pretty soon they are providing unethical advice to CEOs.

These folks provide a valuable service.  But, as with anything else in your life, do not just assume that they will always propose ethical approaches for your needs or dilemmas.  It is not alright to create performance forecasts for your company that you know you can’t achieve.  That’s called lying and lying, even to make your shareholders wealthy, is not acceptable.  That makes you no better than Madoff.  If you are producing fictitious plans to create extraordinary valuation then you are no better than the Madofffs of the world.

Just remember that only you can guard your integrity and ethics.  If someone convinces you to do something unethical, it is your fault – not theirs.  They might be bad people – but its still your choice.