Which Is The Real Mc Coy?

It would be a shame if "The mess at Bank One" (Finance, May 1), on John B. McCoy's final days as CEO, were to be all that's said about the man. For instance, it was Mr. McCoy's sterling reputation that made possible the 1994 enactment of the so-called Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking & Branching Efficiency Act. A number of bankers, notably Hugh L. McColl Jr., had been pressing Congress unsuccessfully for years to obtain enactment. It was not until McCoy agreed in mid-1993 to become chairman of a task force on interstate banking at the Bankers Roundtable that the legislation got legs.

Throughout the succeeding 15 months or so, McCoy's leadership within the community of large-bank CEOs kept the issue on track. He defused efforts from within the giant American Bankers Assn. to derail the legislation, and he authorized negotiations with consumer representatives that were essential for the bill to become law. None of this would have been possible had not McCoy stood so high in the estimation of his peers. McCoy was the key cog in a many-cogged machine that ultimately brought the public the benefits--for the first time in the nation's history--of true interstate banking. Characteristically, he neither sought nor received credit for his role.

John S. Rippey

Montross, Va.

John B. McCoy's exit from Bank One has left new CEO James Dimon in a jam. Cutting costs may make things better for shareholders, but truth is, there's not much left to cut.

At several local Bank One branches in Boulder County (Colo.), McCoy's legacy--and his emphasis on short-term gains--has ended with the evaporation of vital links with local longtime customers. The elimination of local boards of directors, drastic reductions in local advertising and promotion budgets, six-month rotation/promotion/removal/resignation of local branch managers, reduced staffing and community presence, and alienation of local businesses via extraneous fees leave Bank One in one big fix.

At the corporate level, fractious boards of directors, marginally profitable credit-card units, bulky operations, and oversize management committees are nothing compared with the respect, confidence, and trust now lacking on Main Street for Bank One.

Doug Conarroe

Conarroe Cos.

Lafayette, Colo.

As a trust officer in a bank in Odessa, Tex., I got to see a lot of John McCoy in 1990, when Bank One bought the assets of the old MBank Holding Co. It was apparent then that McCoy was CEO of Bank One because he had the good luck to have a father and grandfather who preceded him in that position. It was only a matter of time until a crisis beyond his ability to resolve proved that to the world at large. That has now happened.

The purchase of MBank assets, which included the personnel of about 20 banks in Texas, revealed another component of the culture of Bank One. While McCoy personally and publicly committed Bank One to honor the many years of experience MBank personnel had accumulated prior to the acquisition, when it came to allowing those years to be used for purposes that cost Bank One money--such as monthly pension payments upon retirement--the bank reneged. For example, someone retiring with 20 years total bank experience, but only two years with Bank One, would get a pension based on two years' service, not the 20 years promised. That is the real "corporate soul" of the old Bank One.

Edwin J. Stuart

Greeneville, Tenn.