Friday, January 22, 2010

The Pressure to Invest: Incentives to Buy Your Clients

What if your company offered you an investment option you couldn't refuse?  Not simply an investment that would do better for you but also for the very businesses your company works with?  Would this be a smart move?  Would you cave to peer pressure and perhaps company pressure as well?

A recent article in the New York Times focused on a start up mutual fund crossed my desk recently. The article, written by Stuart Elliott, dealt with the advertising agency Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners in New York, part of MDC Partners.

While Mr. Elliott normally deals with the advertising industry, this particular article offered something different. Two employees of the firm believed that if the company had an investment stake in the clients they represent (eighteen of the thirty clients they work with are traded on major exchanges), the focus on their client’s success would improve – with any luck, as their employee’s interest in those businesses via investment would as well.

To that end, MDC launched a new index with those companies as the template for the fund. “The index,: Mr. Elliott writes, “was the brainchild of two Kirshenbaum Bond employees: Aric Cheston, partner and creative director, and Matt Powell, chief technologist. They will each receive a cash bonus of $10,000 from MDC.” The fund, with the ticker symbol KBSPX has yet to show up on any searches as yet.

“Agency executives are opening a brokerage account with another client, the Vanguard Group, into which will be deposited 300 shares of each of the 18 companies."

Mr. Elliott explains further that “The 300 employees of Kirshenbaum Bond will be offered long-term cash and compensation incentives to mirror the performance of the stocks in the index, which they will be able to track each trading day on an intranet on the agency’s Web site.

“MDC is spending an estimated $500,000 to start the index, which includes contributing four restricted shares of MDC stock to the fund for each Kirshenbaum Bond employee, for a total of 1,200 shares.”

Why is this important? Read more about "Skin in the Game: Is investing in your clients worth the Risk?"

Paul Petillo is the Managing Editor of

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