JP Morgan Chase goes minimalist…

September 16, 2011

Earlier this week, there was one of those big financial conferences in Manhattan that we weren’t invited to, but which we learned about (as we do most things) via an SEC filing, specifically this 8-K filed by JP Morgan Chase (JPM). Instead of some long missive — like the type we’ve made fun of before here and here for example — JP Morgan’s presentation (pdf) was shockingly minimalist.

It was just a single page with a few key concepts. Indeed, the legal warning at the bottom of the slide was about the same length as the words on the page. Not only was it sparse in words. It was also sparse in design, lacking any fancy charts or graphics — the type that keep graphic artists across Manhattan steadily employed grinding out boring Powerpoint graphics for well-heeled corporate clients.

A quick search showed that JP Morgan was one of dozens of companies to present during the two-day event, so we decided to take a quick look at some of the other presentations to see whether other companies in the financial services space were also following this new minimalistic approach. The answer? Not exactly.

Bank of New York Mellon (BNY)’s presentation (pdf), done by Chairman and CEO Gerald Hassell went on for 30 pages. Nasdaq OMX Group’s (NDAQ) presentation (pdf) was almost as long. Wells Fargo (WFC) even had an appendix attached to its 28-page presentation (pdf). And Bank of America’s (BAC) presentation (pdf) was 29 pages. Of course, that included two pages of highly legalistic warnings about “forward looking statements” — a jobs program for junior associates — and a few nifty graphics, so the actual content was really closer to 25 pages.

If we didn’t know any better, we’d assume that the conference rules specified that presentations couldn’t exceed 30 pages, given that pretty much every company we looked at seemed to come pretty close to that mark. And while we didn’t look at every single presentation — there had to be at least 50 over the two-day conference — we couldn’t find a single other company that managed to boil things down to just one page.

The French theologian François Fénelon, which according to Wikipedia was one of the main advocates of quietism, once said, “The more you say, the less people remember.” We wonder if the folks at Chase were thinking about Fénelon when they put their Barclay’s presentation together. And, if so, perhaps it can catch on at other companies too. Nobody wants to spend a Tuesday morning — or really any other morning — being force-fed a diet of 30-page Powerpoints.

Image source: Deeper Living

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