Saturday, May 28, 2011


For many years after the continuous attack on my credibility from some of my former senior executives at Alliance Bernstein (formerly S.C. Bernstein & Co.), I made very serious efforts to maintain a personal relationship with some of them. It was kind of like a "forgive and forget" and move on with life.

Finally the obnoxious comments of Roger Hertog at a dinner with our wives was the last straw in forgiving and forgetting. If it wasn't for Roger's inflammatory comments about my personality, the blogs that I have written probably would have never been done.

Ethics is a strange thing. It can be used to cover up subtle unethical behaviors, and when truth be told, it's characteristic to cry "How could you do that to me?"

I wasn't just an employee at S.C. Bernstein, it was my company and a significant loophole in the corporate papers, was turned against me by two greedy associates.

As fate would have it, I received a call from Sanford Bernstein's brother, Paul Bernstein. He informed me of how he was writing a book about his life with his brother and will be coming down to Florida to interview me. He assured me of his integrity and positive intentions. (He has never shown up or called again.)

When he called he reminded me of a totally true story, that many of you will think is inappropriate to publish. It is a small truth about a wicked man, who in his later years seemed to hide behind religious activities to cover up his abuses of other human beings, many of which I was personal witness to. Whereas Roger Hertog and Lew Sanders, appeared to stand in the background, seemingly afraid to raise their voices.

When Paul phoned he recalled his humiliation when his brother, who was then CEO of the company, took out his private parts, and p----d upon his desk in front of other employees.

Paul's story reminded me of a time when this same Bernstein, at a corporate party, took out his private parts in front of woman for reasons that you can analyze on your own. Several partners of the firm thought this was funny and that it was just Bernstein. Please note in the Bernstein eulogies by Hertog and Sanders,(earlier blog) the comments about his continual use of vulgarity and sexual innuendo. This was the real Bernstein, this is a small part of what I dealt with as President of the company, all else is tragic.

I certify this to be true.

Friday, May 13, 2011


When I was elected President of Sanford Bernstein and Company, after the disastrous management of the accounts under Bernstein's leadership, I had to start from scratch. There was no understanding of the firm or its product by the salesforce. There were no systematic rules of investing. You might say that speculation was the rule of the day and diversification standards hardly existed. The following is part one of a speech that I made to our employees in an attempt to step forth into a professional investment methodology. There are five parts to this speech.

The first step in the development of most industrial companies is the definition of that which it is going to do – a simple step, perhaps, but one which the securities industry has rarely taken. Think about this: We cannot control the price of what we sell; we cannot determine its distribution, nor for the most part can we even be free from a competitor offering, not only a similar product, but the exact thing that we are selling. Yet, for years the brokerage industry has prospered without a discernible product, which has insatiable advantages to the people who purchase it. Our key is our ability to position assets to meet a detailed, refined set of agreed-to objectives to a list of customers.

Wall Street has primarily been merchandising business. In the 1920’s (prior to the crash), a book was written titled, “Where are the Customer Yachts”. That title had implications then and meaning up to 1974. Very few investment concerns can point proudly to the product which delivered the customers a yacht; at the extreme, but very few can even point proudly as to how they achieved the goals of the investors who have come to Wall Street with need. As a matter of fact, very few investment mediums can point to any long-term success as it relates to the individual investor as a group. Most mediums for investments do not even attempt nor have they bothered to publish their record. One of the subjects that has come up is what is the product of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.? Over the last 18 months or so, I have asked many of you individually what you thought the product of Bernstein was. Some of the time it was because I was trying to find out if you knew what it was, but most of the time I was trying to get as much information as I could in order to see the development of the product too place along the lines that would be professional and beneficial to every one of us.

I have been in Wall Street since 1955, since 1960 full time. The world will not allow us to look back; there will be other people developing improved money managing products; the format that we basically have here, as hard as it is to believe, the discretionary format, is still unique. The original idea which we will discuss in a short while is exceptional in its concept because of a number of reasons. But just to give you one, which might concern each of your livelihoods, even with the failures that we have had, the basic format is not only potentially unique in its framework of profitability so that if we can combine the necessary talent and have the necessary discipline, we have a framework that can make us proud. The basic framework is unique in its ability to be able to manage thousands of clients for their individual needs. Very few firms have been able to put together that capability, and generally the number of accounts and the types of accounts that can be managed are very few. Now we have another business: we have institutional business. The institutional business as you all have read – and I would like to suggest that each of you re-read for understanding and so that your total participation and feeling towards the firm maintains a very high level, the Policy and Procedure Manual, which in itself took a great deal of work – seems like very little. But just the putting together of it was an extremely hard task. You should all read it and understand it and feel that you are a part of this and that it is basically the business that we are in. We are additionally in the institutional business; for all its merits, for all its time and potential, it is a separate business from the management of individual accounts, and I repeat this meeting is to discuss the product as it relates to the management of individual accounts.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

COMING SOON - ATALANTA SOSNOFF STORY (In order to clearly read the articles simply double click to expand)

Before we begin to write the story about my time with Atalanta Sosnoff we decided to publish a few old articles from the Wall Street Journal. (In order to clearly read the articles simply double click to expand.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


There is a substantial art business in New York. Art prices have appreciated, but very few people point to their record of what they have sold in total in the art business as to its appreciation. They point to their successes, but they do not quite say they have sold 200 Picassos over the last 50 years because they were smart to discern that it was merchandise for them to be selling. In this room, except for one old man on my left and two medium aged men on my right, I do not think we have anybody who has reached the ripe age of 40. So that in fact we have a very young average age. We are in the investment business to provide account management appropriate to the needs, the different needs, the various needs, and the changing needs of primarily individual investors and pensions. We admit that we have had some failure, but I view these as I view the potential of this group, more or less, as an opportunity to create in this firm the discipline, the courageous, organized, coherent, repetitious, explainable, inheritable approach to the management of the funds that people have entrusted to our firm. We may not, probably will not and should not, aim to point to our ability to deliver the customer’s yacht. Nevertheless, we can deliver to the customers what they are entitled to, what is explained to them and what is developed for their best benefit.

The New York Stock Exchange not too long ago said that there were 30 million individual investors. That same figure in 1948 was 4.7 million. Those individual investors (it is fascinating what I am going to say now) invested their money primarily not totally up until 1956 and 1957 as individuals, and that is when the mutual bond business really started to grow. These individual investors, how did they invest their money? There were a few unique individuals who studied the markets and invested in it, but most of these people did it as an ancillary activity primarily employed in some other capacity rather than investing. The stock market was merchandised and promoted. It was promoted by the New York Stock Exchange; it was promoted by Merrill Lynch; it was promoted by what was then the great firm of Francis T. DuPont and Co. It was promoted by the Reynolds, the Shearson and Hammills and the Shields and the Paine Webbers and the Hayden Stones. There are literally 5 or 100 relatively major brokerage firms that employed thousands, and we will leave it at that: individual stock brokers who were told to go out and recommend securities to various types of individuals. That started after the war. To this day, except for one study that was done by the Brookings Institute, there is no way that anyone can really trace how these individuals investors performed – how they invested, why they invested, the techniques they used, the success or failures that they had. It is not available anywhere. It is an interesting question; why is it not available anywhere because no organization among the ones mentioned would be proud of the record of success that they had in regard to their record of investments as it related to their individual recommendations. As a matter of fact, there were some studies done by the accumulation of research reports, and I am sure that if we had been in business in those days, at the same time our record would not have been different, but that is where the opportunity of this young group lies, including myself. There were not records because there was limited success and because the individual investor was not given the opportunity, for whatever reason, and it is complicated. It relates also to the fact that the levels of competence among the brokers was low, that the levels of compensation that Wall Street was able to earn on its commissions were extraordinary, and it became a business of potential greed and avarice, with no records, and it was management by levels of profitability as it relates to the firms and differentiated from levels of profitability as it relates to the client. So in the 50’s someone decided (IDS was there early) that the individual investor could not by and large achieve successful investment results on their own. Therefore, a completely managed, highly diversified portfolio in which he could be told that was owning a piece of America and could get the “Professional Management” and that they could not have on their own. It was out of that that the mutual fund industry developed.

Shepard Osherow. All Rights Reserved