Bank of America sustained a number of blows to its public reputation over the past year, most recently in a class action lawsuit by defrauded customers, which resulted in a settlement of $410 million. Nevertheless, in a press conference yesterday in New York City's Zuccotti Park (site of the Occupy Wall Street movement), BoA CEO and President Brian Moynihan was brimming over with enthusiasm regarding the bank's two "revolutionary" new customer offerings: the "Daylight Savings Account" and the "Accelerated Affluence Attainment (AAA)" program.
"You know, I know, time is money," he told Occupy demonstrators who, while initially skeptical, seemed eager to hear what the banker had to say. "So why not save our time and earn interest on it? Honestly, it's so obvious, I'm a little blown away that no financial institution has ever come up with this idea before."
Moynihan described the basic elements of BoA's Daylight Savings Account program.
"Why the HELL should you guys settle for saving only one hour, for only 6 months out of the year? It's ridiculous. Pardon my language, but screw that. No more waiting - now's the time to save some daylight. Occupy daylight!" he proclaimed, to the tentative nods of some Occupy listeners.
Occupy activist Luke Trudell was one of the nodders.
"I was suspicious of this guy at first," said Trudell. "But I have to admit, he's speaking my language. The system is stacked against us time-wise; just like with wealth, 1% of the population seem to have 99% of the time. We DO deserve to take back more than just one hour. And for one of our major financial institutions to voluntarily take steps to modify that huge disparity - well, that's pretty freaking awesome."
Moynihan further stated that defrauded customers awarded damages in the class action lawsuit against BoA will have the option of accepting, in lieu of their individual settlement payments, the equivalent amount in daylight assets, which will earn compound interest via the Daylight Savings Account.
"This is not an act of philanthropy; it's good business," he told the crowd. "We regain people's trust, and they gain time and interest."
Moynihan went on to explain the second and particularly ground-breaking facet of the Daylight Savings Program: the "Accelerated Affluence Attainment (AAA)" program.
"In addition to earning interest on their daylight hours, people will have the option of purchasing securities that are guaranteed by the assets in their daylight savings accounts. After all, what could be more secure than your own personal time? Now people will be able to purchase stock that's 100% guaranteed by the time assets in their own accounts, which are gaining interest at a compound rate. It's a win-win."
Moynihan emphasized, "This is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. This is not a program designed to make our customers quick-and-dirty, nouveau-riche; it's designed to make them affluent. That is, to attain a lifestyle infinitely more tasteful and enduring than plain old 'rich.' And it's certainly not a something-for-nothing deal - you have to put in the time, literally. Because unless you deposit hours into your account, there won't be anything to guarantee the securities you own."
"Where does the 'Accelerated' portion of the program come in?" questioned a Forbes reporter.
Moynihan beamed with obvious pride.
"BoA clients participating in the Daylight Savings program and Accelerated Affluence Attainment program will have the opportunity to double - yes, double - their time-backed securities merely by referring other clients to us. It's very simple. Every time a customer refers another person to us and that person opens a Daylight Savings Account and purchases time-backed securities, the first customer's own time-backed securities will double in quantity.
"So just as an example, if you start off owning 10 shares of time-backed securities and then send someone else to us who buys some as well, boom - suddenly you've got 20 shares instead of 10. And if that person brings in more people, your securities will double again! If that's not 'accelerated' affluence attainment, I don't know what is."
One somewhat uncertain aspect of BoA's Accelerated Affluence Attainment program is the rating which time-backed securities - an entirely new form of securities - will receive from rating agencies like Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's. The uncertainty stems from the fact that there is no precedent for the time-backed securities model.
However, Moody's representatives assured Occupy-ers of their positive impression of BoA's Accelerated Affluence Attainment program.
"It's solid," said Tucker Feldman of Moody's. "The process of rating securities isn't rocket science. We evaluate the relevant information, and yes, we use our specialized financial knowledge, but we also use our common sense."
Feldman continued, "In this case, we'll begin with the facts right in front of our face. It's the 'AAA' program. While of course we'll have to consider all of the pertinent information, it seems very likely that for an AAA program, a triple-A rating would be appropriate."
(AAA is the highest possible rating for securities.)
The press conference culminated with Moynihan's announcement of the spokesperson hired to represent BoA in its advertising and marketing of the AAA program: Henry Winkler, who gained national fame in his role as Fonzie in the 1970's sitcom Happy Days.
Moynihan punned, "How could we not go with the guy who's famous for his 'Ayyy' to represent the AAA program?"
The hiring of Winkler has prompted bank insiders to refer to the AAA securities program as the "Fonzie scheme."
Moynihan has no issue with the term.
"In many ways, it is a Fonzie scheme. After all, happy days really are here again."
When asked whether he himself planned to open a Daylight Savings account and/or invest in time-backed securities, Moynihan shook his head regretfully.
"I wish I could. But in addition to insider-trading concerns, I just don't have the time."