It’s no secret I’m a connoisseur of annual CEO letters-and one of the best I’ve seen so far this year was written by Ed Wehmer of Wintrust Financial. His letter has all the attributes I look for:
– It was obviously written, and with considerable thought, by Ed himself. This is no puff piece from the people in public relations. Instead, Ed provides a wide-ranging survey of Wintrust’s various businesses and then explains how those businesses fit together to form a single, coherent whole. Shareholders don’t jus come away with a laundry list of last year’s accomplishments; they get a solid understanding of how Wintrust actually works. And as I say, Ed has obviously put a lot of thought into what he’s written. He clearly uses the letter as a chance to take a step back and take a fresh look at the company he’s running. Perfect.
– The strategy that Ed lays out for Wintrust doesn’t consist of a string of pie-in-the-sky platitudes (“Nurture our unique culture!”), but are rather a set of six concrete actions the company is pursuing in order to maximize value for shareholders. They are prudent and aggressive at the same time, which is exactly what you want in a well-run bank.
– He doesn’t stint on the details. The Wintrust letter runs 13 pages, and Ed isn’t shy about liberally sprinkling in plenty of facts and figure. To me as an analyst, that’s helpful, since it tells me what metrics top management cares most about and which it doesn’t. That gives me a very useful perspective as I go through the financials later on in the annual.
All in all a great read, made all the more helpful by the Wintrust-as-the-space-program theme (seriously it works) that runs throughout. Other bank CEOs could learn a lot by looking at Ed’s effort this year.
What do you think? Let me know!