Comments and clarifications
Breaking bad news – Delivering negative news
Have you ever had to break bad news in your job?
How does your management break bad news to its employees?
A CEO is breaking some bad news to the board
Using the notes make questions or comments.
a (say/fall short/projections again?)
Are you saying they've fallen short of projections again?
b (suggest/introduce/price cuts?)
c (surely/not say/time/phase them out!)
d (this mean/should/invest more/new technology?)
e (tell us/could be layoffs?)
f (mean some kind/job-share scheme?)
g (so/say/should/spend more/R&D)
h (this mean/think/centralise distribution?)
i (hope/not suggest/situation/hopeless)
A OK, everyone. It's bad news I'm afraid. As you may have heard the latest European figures are looking extremely disappointing.
B Are you saying they've fallen short of projections again?
A I'm afraid so. In fact, we may be 30% down. Now, this will be the third quarter in a row we've missed our targets and, frankly, unless things pick up considerably next quarter, we may have to rethink our while pricing strategy.
C Are you suggesting we introduce price cuts?
A If we still can, Anna. Certainly, if we'd done that a year ago, it might have stimulated demand. But do it now and we may end up running at a loss. As you know, we're barely breaking even on some of our product lines as it is.
D Surely you're not saying it's time to phase them out!
A No, no, of course not. At least, not yet. But what I am saying is that we need to keep production costs down somehow if we want to remain competitive.
B Does this mean we should be investing more in new technology?
A if only it was that simple, Eric. But right now we're not really in a position to invest in anything, even if we wanted to. No, I'm afraid the situation calls for more drastic action. It's clearly time for a major restructuring.
D Are you telling us there could be layoffs?
A I don't see how we can avoid it, James - unless, of course, we can get some of our people to accept reduced hours.
C You mean some kind of job-share scheme?
A Yes, either that or introduce a four-day week - providing the unions don't oppose it. Of course, it's not just a question of costs. It's also a question of product. The fact is, better products are coming onto the market all the time.
D So you're saying we should be spending more on R&D.
A As I've said, capital investment is no longer an option for us. Pour any more money into R&D and we'll simply slide further into debt. And then there are all the problems we've been having with our overseas distributors.
B Does this mean you're thinking of centralizing distribution?
A Well, that's one option, yes. But even if we decided to do that, and it's a big if, it would take time to implement - time we simply don't have. As you know, our share price has fallen to an all-time low of just 85 cents. And I wouldn't be surprised if, by our next meeting, it's fallen even further. The fact is, we're selling old products at inflated prices in a volatile market through inefficient distributors.
D I hope you are not suggesting the situation is hopeless.
A Well, let's put it this way: we've canceled the Christmas party!
C-Level Emergency Meeting on the Company’s Mortgage Securitization Situation
Emergency meeting – a discussion that happens with little warning or planning in a time of crisis.
Blamestorming – (buzzword) a meeting to decide who is responsible for poor performance in the company.
Have you ever had an emergency meeting in your job? What was it about? What role did you play and how did it go?
Do you have blamestorming sessions in your company?
Watch the video and answer the questions
- What does John Tuld apologize for at the beginning of the meeting?
- What is the nature of the problem?
- Is the conversational tone friendly or hostile?
John Tuld: Please, sit down. Welcome, everyone. I must apologize for dragging you all here at such an uncommon hour. But from what I've been told, this matter needs to be dealt with urgently -- so urgently, in fact, it probably should have been addressed weeks ago. But that is spilt milk under the bridge. So, why doesn't somebody tell me what they think is going on here?
Jared Cohen: Mr. Tuld, as I mentioned earlier if you compare the figure at the top of page 13 --
Tuld: Jared, it's a little early for all that. Just speak to me in plain English.
Cohen: Okay --
Tuld: In fact, I'd like to speak to the guy who put this together. Mr. Sullivan, is it? Does he speak English?
Tuld: I'd like to speak with the analyst who seems to have stumbled across this mess.
Cohen: Certainly. That would be Peter Sullivan. Right here.
Tuld: Oh, Mr. Sullivan, you're here. Good morning. Maybe you could tell me what you think is going on here. And please, speak as you might to a young child or a golden retriever. It wasn't brains that got me here. I can assure you of that.
Peter Sullivan: Well, uh...sir, as you may or may not know, I work, here, for Mr. Rogers as an associate in the Risk Assessment and Management Office at MBS.
Tuld: Please. Just relax. Stand up. Tell us in a clear voice -- what is the nature of the problem?
Sullivan: Okay, uh...Well, as you probably know, over the last 36 to 40 months the firm has begun packaging new MBS products that combine several different tranches of rating classification in one tradable security. This has been enormously profitable, as I imagine you noticed.
Tuld: I have.
Sullivan: Well, the firm is currently doing a considerable amount of this business every day. Now the problem, which is, I guess, why we are here tonight, is that it takes us -- the firm -- about a month to layer these products correctly, thereby posing a challenge from a risk management standpoint.
Tuld: And, Mr. Sullivan, that challenge is?
Sullivan: Well, we have to hold these assets on our books longer than we might ideally like to.
Sullivan: But the key factor here is, these are essentially just mortgages, so that has allowed us to push the leverage considerably beyond what you might be willing or allowed to do in any other circumstance, thereby pushing the risk profile without raising any red flags.
Tuld: Now -- thank you, Mr. Sullivan. Sit down. What I'm guessing your report here says -- and give me some rope here -- what I'm guessing it says is that considering the, shall we say, bumpy road we've been on the last week or so, that the figures your brilliant co-workers up the line ahead of you have come up with don't make much sense anymore, considering what's taking place today.
Sullivan: Actually, not what's taking place today, but what's already taken place over the last two weeks.
Tuld: So, you're saying this has already happened.
Sullivan: Sort of.
Tuld: Sort of. And, Mr. Sullivan, what does your model say that that means for us here?
Sullivan: Well, that's where it becomes a projection. But, um --
Tuld: You're speaking with me, Mr. Sullivan.
Sullivan: Well, sir, if those assets decrease by just 25%, and remain on our books, that loss would be greater than the current market capitalization of this entire company.