Readers Forum: Mellon Financial

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We asked Post-Gazette readers what they thought of Bank of New York's plans to merge with Mellon Financial and whether it would be good or bad for the city. We also asked what the loss of the Mellon name might mean for the Pittsburgh area.

Here's what the readers had to say:

But what kind of jobs?

Six hundred high-paid, well-educated management folks leave town; and in some unspecified future year they might be replaced by 1,200 low-wage clerks. It's hard to call that a good deal, when without the merger Pittsburgh could have had both.

-- Massey B., Chevy Chase, Md.

What were they thinking?

This news is awfully hard to swallow. First it was my former employer Alcoa that moved its headquarters to New York, under the radar screen, and now Mellon. Two companies that were very instrumental in the building of industrial Pittsburgh. What in the world were these two great companies' board of directors thinking.

-- Robert E. Wilson, Cincinnati

It's time to move on

Too many people responding to this query are concerned with the prestige of having corporate headquarters in their city. While I always yearn to have as many HQ's as possible in the area, the loss of the HQ with five jobs moving to NYC is not a major loss economically. While it is regrettable that the area will lose an iconic brand like Mellon, I am taking Mr. Kelly's words that he plans to add 1,000-2,000 jobs in the area at face value. Fortune 500 CEOs do not make claims like this without carrying them though.

Economically, it makes sense to grow the company in Pittsburgh. Office space is $22/sq.ft. in Pittsburgh vs $65/sq.ft. in New York. Much cheaper business costs means more growth locally. Pittsburghers: Quit complaining and embrace change. This move will be good for the area in the long run.

A few years ago, Seattle-icon Boeing moved its corporate headquarters and 500 jobs to Chicago. Local bemoaned the loss as the death of the company and the area. As far as I know, Seattle is still there and they have added thousands of jobs to the area because of the growth they have experienced with their new Dreamliner airplane. The same will happen to Pittsburgh. Just have some patience.

-- Matt Burns, Pittsburgh

The numbers add up, or do they?

Of course the Mellon Financial & Bank of NY is not good for Pittsburgh.

Ask yourself these questions, and you you do the math:

How many employment seninars are being held to recruit the future employment demand?

Are the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and the State of Pennsylvania getting more tax dollars, or losing some?

Are the local developers, landlords, and property manages going to find leasing more lucrative now, or is it going to be that much more tougher?

Is PAT's ridership going to increase, or decrease?

How many more seats should the local coffee and lunch shops plans for?

Since when did 1 minus 1 equal 2?

Mellon minus Pittsburgh equals New York.

-- Ronald C. Maroni, Dormont

We'll get through this

It is a shame that the big CEO's have slapped every hard-working Pittsburgher in the face, AGAIN.

While we are gaining many new jobs and many new young people {and for those of you from some southern state that left many years ago and seem to be all too happy about this, things have changed since you left so before you make your ignorant generalizations about Pittsburgh, and sad rationalizations for living somewhere else maybe you should do your homework first} headlines such as this overshadow all of the wonderful and great things that are happening.

We will recover from this assault on our great city.

-- Will Davies, Friendship Neighborhood

Bad news

I have deep seated reservations about this proposed merger. I cringe over the thought of it.

-- Bob Fetsko, Port Orange, Fla.

It's all about the talent

Folks, remember this: When Robert Kelly arrived in Pittsburgh, he pledged loyalty to Pittsburgh being the bank's hometown. He was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying, "I think Pittsburgh is absolutely critical to the future of Mellon. I see it continuing to be the head office."

Meanwhile, Business Week reports the following: "... while executives at both banks emphasized they would maintain strong ties to the city (Pittsburgh), Bank of New York Mellon will be based in New York. Outsiders are skeptical that the combined institutions would keep major operations in Pittsburgh over the long term. 'They will keep a monument or something there,' says Ed Harmon, partner with Thorp Reed and Armstrong and head of the firm's Strategic Transitions practice. ..."


The crime here is that Mellon has had such mediocre talent in recent years and the end result is this train wreck about to happen. Who should be held accountable? The Mellon Board. And who sits on this Board? The laundry list of Pittsburgh hacks who are unable to grow their institutions into global power houses.

Pittsburghers need to ask themselves the following question, "Why are Pittsburgh corporations the ones being taken over versus Pittsburgh firms becoming the acquirers?"

It is doable. Consider the once tiny Nation's Bank under Hugh L. McColl's leadership grew to become Bank of America -- the largest commercial bank in the United States and the third-largest company in the world by the 2006 Forbes Global 2000.

It is all about the talent or the lack thereof at Mellon.

-- Denise Kurz, Sands Point, N.Y.

Forget Mellon and the past. It's time to build a better Pittsburgh

I left Mellon Financial in May of 2005 to work for a newer, more youthful, much more driven, hipper, healthier, successful and energetic company headquartered here in Pittsburgh. It was the best thing I EVER did in my life.

As I concur with the words of Paul W. Bruce, I can not emphasize our points any clearer. This city does indeed cater to all the elderly and does not give two hoots about the younger, more educated, driven people of the area. Why do you think that everyone for the most part, leaves Pittsburgh and goes elsewhere -- apparently including Mellon's new CEO?

This merger between Mellon and BONY solidifies the fact that the only people these "charitable" leaders of Mellon care about is themselves. I worked for Mellon for five awful years of my life. They claimed to want to be the "employer of choice" but let me tell you ... they were NOT.

That company was/is filled with so-called leaders who do not rightfully compensate nor treat their "work horses" -- I mean employees -- the right way.

They tried to tease us with some-what decent medical plans ... and an ice cream party every now and then to appease the likes of the simple folks who really run the operations of Mellon. All the while, telling us that we were/are the greatest and because of us Mellon is the top securities services leader in the worldblah blah blah. Yeah ... well if that was so ... why didn't they show us in terms that mattered? Give your people more money ... more time for lives outside of work ... more programs that produce healthier, happier, longer living people ... more pats on the back when they were deserved?

Oh wait..that's right ... financial services companies such as Mellon and BONY are ran by living skeletons, wearing their plaid knickers to the golf courses, smoking their Cuban cigars who live off their fossil fuel furnaces generated by the pounds of hundred dollar bills they are capable of throwing away because of how stinking rich they are and how poor their work force is.

Well ... goodbye Mellon. I'd much rather be a part of an organization who's very own CEO sits and eats his lunch in the very same cafeteria I do ... at a company where I can go directly to a beautiful gym after a hard day's work and exercise. A place that isn't so drab and bland that it makes you want to cry when you get in the elevator. A place where the directors have their offices in the middle of the building to allow their workers the window views ... A place where people are happy and healthy. A place that often praises us on jobs well done and proves it by time off and sweet financial backing ... a place that wants and helps its people to progress with their careers and takes advantage of their people's education ... need I say more???

So I say good riddance to Mellon. Let the more young-minded, more youthful-oriented, healthier, more wellness-focused companies come in to this area and really do positive things for the people breaking our backs to make Pittsburgh what it is TODAY! Youth, it's up to us to really change this town for the good ... now that a lot of the ghosts and corporate goblins of the past are going to be just that -- THE PAST!

People ... let go of the past. Let's focus on what can once again make this area thriving and prosperous!!!

PS -- when I left Mellon, they never granted me a face-to-face exit interview that I had requested. I wonder why???

-- Jamie K. Shankweiler, Allentown, Pa., native

Stock options win out over people

My major concern is the job situation. It sounds good, but I've seen too many of these where it's just a smoke screen. In Pittsburgh, the little people will lose in the end and cause another hardship for all involved. Meanwhile management will have all of their stock options and move on and again the little people will struggle. But that's business! Suck it up again!!!

-- Albert W. Lubawy

The New York City argument doesn't work

I do not buy the public relations spin from Mellon and its new CEO, Robert Kelly, about why the new combined entity MUST BE based in New York City.

Simply put: Why is it that Charlotte, N.C., -- a city similar in size to Pittsburgh (611,000) and geographically remote to New York City -- has evolved into the SECOND largest banking center in the United States? And let's not forget our neighbor, Cleveland? It ranks as the fourth largest banking center!

Could it be that New York City is not an essential factor for financial services firms to succeed!?

Witness Charlotte and Cleveland: it looks like NYC is not an essential ingredient for financial services firms in these two citites to succeed and prosper. And it is not as if talent will not relocate to cities other than NYC to work in financial services.

Mellon and its present and past executives have always had NYC-envy. In the end, their hollow egos have caused them to thumb their noses at Pittsburgh and the Mellon legacy, which so helps to brand and define our great city.

-- Robert Benson, Philadelphia

Mellon employees might like this

For any remaining Pittsburgh employees, the silver lining in this cloud could be that the bank's work culture may improve. For decades Mellon's reputation as a workplace has been pretty dismal.

-- Linda Campbell, Istanbul, Turkey

Are banks still useful?

Naturally, the pending buyout of Mellon Bank will remove jobs from the Pittsburgh area. Isn't it the whole point of bank mergers to accomplish "gains in efficiency" and provide "better value for shareholders"? That means fewer employees, folks, well as the loss of the regionally significant Mellon name.

The thing that persistently baffles me is why people patronize these banks. Why not become a member of a local credit union and contribute to decisions of how your money is used and how your financial institution behaves?

-- Paul Ganter, Petersburg Pa.

Does anyone really care about Pittsburgh?

The sad fact for Pittsburgh is that none of the people currently running Mellon Bank care what happens to Pittsburgh. They are not from Pittsburgh. What happens to the community is immaterial to their personal objectives which will be more than met by joining BONY and moving to New York. Mellon bank died in 1987.

-- Edward Andrews, Glen Cove, N.Y.

Who deserves their pay and who doesn't

I think this merger is the final act of poor leadership at Mellon. The Post-Gazette did a great series a few moths ago about banking in Charlotte vs. Pittsburgh. It illustrated the difference leaders can make, the leaders in Charlotte were interested in growing their bank AND their region. This paper has often questioned the pay of CEO's, the answer is good leaders are worth their money and bad ones are way overpaid.

The leaders at Mellon have been way overpaid. They viewed Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania and a hindrance and a problem not a base from which Mellon can grow and expand. Mr. Kelly even commented that "Pittsburgh would be a problem". Marty McGuinn often cited Pennsylvania's aging and slow growing demographics. The leaders in Charlotte didn't use their relative small size as an excuse.

This merger will be good for parts of Mellon, MAM should be able to leverage this merger into many more money management opportunities but MAM is baseb in Boston. Any new jobs created here in Pittsburgh will be the equivalent of a hourly factory worker. Jobs that will be under the constant threat of being outsourced to India.

This is another disaster for the city. They are throwing a few pathetic bones to Pittsburgh, the promise of jobs, increased charitable giving. Who is going to be here to need it?

-- Joe Smith, Ross

Mr. Kelly's stepping stone?

Congratulations Mr. Kelly, you've made your move.

Just like Mr. Belda, you're another out-of-towner to use another Pittsburgh built corporation to make your way to the Big Apple. The history, the heritage, the hard work, the proud tradition that made Mellon what it is, a Pittsburgh institution that reaches around the world, you don't deserve any of. But you'll use what you can, with no loyalty to the people who built it.

Have you no shame. You're right ??? we will be better off. We don't need people like you here. Of course, you'll come back for the Duquesne Club. Remember who built that too.

-- Mike Cherock, Pittsburgh

History doesn't repeat itself

Read David Cannadine's new biography of Andrew Mellon. Looks like the buyout strategies that created the Mellon empire are now turned against it.

-- Peg Duffy, Westerville, Ohio

Shouldn't have happened

Pittsburgh has just been SPIT ON by the Mellon senior management committee and the company's board. THIS NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

-- Brad Epstein, Boca Raton, Fla.

Time to rethink the city's strategy ... or find one

This just proves, once again, that Pittsburgh needs to get their act together. Otherwise, someone please turn out the lights on your way out of the Fort Pitt Tunnels. What a shame!

This should be ANOTHER wake up call to the people of Pittsburgh. I am typing this from Raleigh, N.C., and I moved here from the 'burgh five years ago. I currently have another one of my friends living on my floor who also just recently left Pittsburgh.

This is the fourth person in four years that has done this because there is nothing going on in Pittsburgh. He will be on his feet in no time and move out, just like the others before him, and go on to succeed in an area of the country that is absolutely exploding.

The Steelers and riverboat gambling are not the answer. Keep catering to the elderly people of the city and ignoring your energetic, driven young people and this won't be the first Pittsburgh landmark to leave.

-- Paul W. Bruce III

The new goal for Pittsburgh ...

It's unfortunate that Pittsburgh has suffered through three decades of transformation of its corporate landscape. It's understandable that most Pittsburghers view this merger as a totally negative event. While the loss of a multinational headquarters certainly stings, it seems apparent that Pittsburgh's cost advantages should carry much weight with any financial services company looking to pare expenses in that increasingly competitive business environment. I would expect the number of good-paying jobs to increase in Pittsburgh, especially compared to BoNY-Mellon's London or Boston locations.

However, one must note that after only a few months time, Mr. Kelly came in from North Carolina, revisited a deal that his Mellon predecessors worked to avoid, and seems to have used Pittsburgh as a stepping stone to advance his career on his way to New York and the world's financial center.

The new goal for Pittsburgh should be to help nurture the next generation of world-class companies that will make Pittsburgh their new headquarters and re-establish the city's corporate prestige.

-- Paul A. Scripko, Austin, Texas

Who wins, who loses

Regardless what the "Spin Masters" say, this is another loss for Pittsburgh. Remember Gulf Oil, US Airways -- we lost thousands of jobs. The only winners will be the executives of these merging companies. I guess they will call this merger progress. I just wonder.

-- Audrey E. Faessel, Bethel Park

The seeds of change started in the '80s

This latest change in Mellon Bank's connection to Pittsburgh actually began years ago, in the frenetic merger activities of the '80's and early '90's.

Mellon allowed its former main office, an architectural symbol of stability in the heart of Pittsburgh's business district to become a retail outlet that ultimately failed!

If Mellon was committed to the city back then, they would have never allowed such a thing to happen, knowing how important it was to Pittsburgh's Downtown.

-- Michael Philbin, Clearwater, Fla.

Pittsburgh loses again

Let's be real clear here, no parts of the proposed merger and are good news to Pittsburgh. Any attempt to say otherwise is an outright lie! There is a trickle down affect associated with merging and moving the corporate headquarters to New York that Pittsburgh will never recover from. This is just another block being taken out of Pittsburgh's status as a major city.

-- Tom Brubach, Doylestown, Ohio (formerly from Castle Shannon)

Pittsburgh should ask for a refund

First, they sell their consumer banking division to Citizens' Bank, now they sell their investment division to the Bank of New York. Should the City of Pittsburgh ask them to give back the [tax-increment financing] they sorely needed for their operations center ... or did they forget to put any restrictions in the TIF structure? Gee, I wonder.

-- Melanie Pallone

Shame on Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials

Not surprising when you consider the taxing system for this area. This is the result of years of the local and county government misallocating funds and not following basic economical rules. How long until other companies follow suit? Shame on the city/county government. So much for the First Night "Ball Rise" ... how about a huge watermellon dropping on the crooks that run this city.

-- Ralph W Fuller III, Pittsburgh

There's plenty of 'spin'

From afar, I'm a little heartsick about this for Pittsburgh generally. In the long run -- no matter what the spin is from top management -- this will cost jobs. If they say otherwise, they're lying (I was tempted to characterize the likely parade of reassuring statements as "disingenuous" but let's call them what we know they're going to be.)

I still consider myself "from" Pittsburgh (Upper St. Clair, '74) ... and when I heard about this, all I could think of was ... what happened to Hartford, Conn., the former "Insurance Capital of the World," as financial service companies were rolled up into global conglomerates in the '80s and '90s. Promises were made, and broken. And it t'ain't what it was, and things there are worse, not better.

-- Jeff Schult, West Haven, Conn.

There is no silver lining

Don't be fooled that the acquisition of Mellon by New York Bank will be good for Pittsburgh. It won't.

The city of San Francisco has lost the headquarters of Bank of America, Chevron, Transamerica and others over the past few years. San Jose recently lost Knight-Ridder.

In all instances, good "head of household" jobs were lost; corporate programs, such as contributions to the arts, were eliminated -- and the status of the city and region were diminished as these companies now called other cities "home."

Bottom line? I'll bet you the new CEO of Mellon, the guy from Wachovia, is going to line his pockets with millions -- at the expense of everybody else in the Pittsburgh area.

-- Michael Ostrofsky, Mission San Jose, Calif.

A significant loss

Only time will tell if this spins into good news; however, anytime the region loses a major corporation, not only does it lose some of its competitive standing among peer cities, but it also loses the philanthropy and charity that goes along with having large local corporations and the business synergy of corporate headquarters staff. That is a large loss for the area. Next: USX (U.S. Steel)

-- Bud Sokolovich, Cincinnati, Ohio


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