To be sure, banks, even those under financial pressure, need to pursue appropriate marketing and client development efforts if they expect to survive the crisis. It is just part of doing business. At the same time, firms under such intense public scrutiny should be cognizant of how such activities will be perceived. At a minimum, scale them back from Gatsbyesque enterprises. Apparently no one at Northern Trust (NASDAQ:NTRS) got that memo. For those of you without time to waste at tmz.com:
Northern Trust, a Chicago-based bank, sponsored the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in L.A. We're told Northern Trust paid millions to sponsor the PGA event which ended Sunday, but what happened off the golf course is even more shocking.
- Northern Trust flew hundreds of clients and employees to L.A. and put many of them up at some of the fanciest and priciest hotels in the city. We're told more than a hundred people were put up at the Beverly Wilshire in Bev Hills, and another hundred stayed at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Still more stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey and others at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.
- Wednesday, Northern Trust hosted a fancy dinner at the Ritz followed by a performance by the group Chicago.
- Thursday, Northern Trust rented a private hangar at the Santa Monica Airport for dinner, followed by a performance by Earth, Wind & Fire.
- Saturday, Northern Trust had the entire House of Blues in West Hollywood shut down for its private party. We got the menu -- guests dined on seared salmon and petite Angus filet. Dinner was followed by a performance by none other than Sheryl Crow.
There was also a fabulous cocktail party at the Loews. And how's this for a nice touch: Female guests at the Chicago concert all got trinkets from ... TIFFANY AND CO.
The expected Congressional response can be found here.
Not to worry; Northern Trust received only $1.6 billion in TARP money, but didn't ask for it. It was just taxpayer money anyway - you know, little people. They also laid off 450 people, but, again, little people, so also no worries.
More evidence that the US response to the financial crisis has degenerated into a sad joke.