The Big Brown Rule

According to an anonymous source, Wachovia Corp. will select privately held search firm Spencer Stuart to lead an external CEO search. The bank cited the firm’s strong credentials in banking and current track record helping other stalwarts such as Delta and Yahoo.*

“The Garlington Report” also has learned that this move will not only produce a slate of eminently qualified candidates, but it will also do absolutely nothing to improve the bank’s lack of leadership and broken culture. Not to mention complete inability to transfer new or even old ideas into new practices.

Here’s why:

  • Insular board won’t address what needs to be addressed. Instead they will try to anoint a Messiah that doesn’t exist, thanks to a willing Search firm eager to collect a fee.
  • Down market environments that haven’t bottomed yet aren’t the time to make change. Particularly ones where bad acquisitions have impaired ability to see straight, much less drive.
  • No one is going to spin-off AG Edwards and let them operate independently like they should have been all along. As to all that sub-prime junk, well, live and learn.
  • Nothing ever changes inside banks where change is a foreign concept. Always has been, always will be.

Whether Wachovia selects a search firm or which firm it is has nothing to do with the core issue. Same old shoes lining up in the same old closets. Just move the chairs around, guys. Save yourselves some time.

Look at this way: If you don’t have effective leadership heading into a fire, chances are you’re going to burn for a long time — or at least until the flames get doused. Even after the fire burns out it generally takes a long time to see anything new.

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*Note: The lead graph can neither be confirmed nor denied. Simply blogging conjecture. Its content doesn’t matter anyway so consider it a play on the horse race that so many others seem consumed by.

We’re tagging it “The Big Brown rule” for lack of a better connection. This refers to the Triple Crown contender who didn’t want to run last Saturday in the Belmont Stakes after winning the Preakness and Kentucky Derby. Wachovia wishes they were that lucky.