Leaving A.I.G.

The retention payments kept some A.I.G. employees around longer than they otherwise would have stayed. Ask yourself this: would you stay, and try to save the company, under the current conditions?

The New York Times today published this letter, from Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group (A.I.G.)’s financial products unit: Dear A.I.G., I Quit!. The letter is addressed to CEO, Edward Liddy. Here are the first paragraphs:

DEAR Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down….

I’m not sure I’ve got anything new to say on this. But do read the whole letter. It puts a human face on the notion of pulling the rug out from someone, after you’ve promised to compensate them for their work; and it provides some support for my suggestion that failure to honour the contracts would do serious damage to A.I.G.’s prospects.

Some of you will scoff at the letter, or at the idea that a wealthy man like DeSantis could in any sense be a ‘victim.’ Fine. My guess is that the shareholders of whatever company employes Mr. DeSantis next will be a happier lot than the shareholders of the company he’s leaving.

3 comments so far

  1. A voice in the wilderness on

    Talk about spoiled! This reads like Mr. DeSantis needs to work in the real world. Over a 45 year career, I’ve worked for a lot of companies that award bonuses and if the entire operating unit does poorly NO ONE gets a bonus. It’s part of how business works.While he may not have contributed to the particular problems at AIG, the idea that the company or at least his operating unit is going bankrupt but he should get is bonus is an insult to anyone who is loosing their job at AIG because the company is in hard times. He sounds like a little child crying because he has to be treated just like every one else.

  2. Chris MacDonald on

    Voice:You’re talking about performance bonuses.I repeat: this was a <> retention payment<>.I don’t see how it’s “whiny” to complain when you’re employer makes a promise to a loyal employee and then revokes it. And AIG is not bankrupt. They’ve got money. The U.S. government gave them money to pay their expenses (including obligations to employees) so that they can keep doing business.Chris.

  3. adnan. on

    You must admit this is just terrible PR all the way round. (You don’t have to admit, I’m just saying.)Why couldn’t they have negotiated salaries (like what most people get paid) and then not have had anything called a ‘bonus’, retention or otherwise. It’s not rocket surgery.You’re really not fooling anyone with $1 salaries and hundreds of thousands in bonuses.It’s interesting that you bring up the shareholders, it seems as if the shareholders (taxpayers or otherwise) are incapable of adequately dealing with compensation and bonuses (bad economy or not).


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