PhillyDeals: Scores of managers laid off by First Niagara Bank

In a clan-warrior spirit, kilt-clad Gary Marshall, CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, which helped rescue the Dad Vail Regatta, is again challenging other corporate crew teams to a race on the Schuylkill during the regatta in May. Marshall is betting $5,000 (for charity) on his crew for bragging rights.
In a clan-warrior spirit, kilt-clad Gary Marshall, CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, which helped rescue the Dad Vail Regatta, is again challenging other corporate crew teams to a race on the Schuylkill during the regatta in May. Marshall is betting $5,000 (for charity) on his crew for bragging rights.
Posted: January 24, 2012

First Niagara Bank, which runs about 360 branches in six states, including 60 in the Philadelphia area, has eliminated jobs for scores of assistant branch managers.

The bank, whose 60 local branches include offices of the former Harleysville National Bank, hasn't advertised the cuts, but confirmed them when I called.

The managers were cut eight months after their status was downgraded to "nonexempt," meaning, among other things, that those who leave the company will get half their former severance (one week per year served, instead of the former two).

The changes are needed "to ensure our retail franchise is well-poised for continued success," spokesman David Lanzillo told me. "We are refocusing our branch staffing to enhance sales and service capabilities."

It's "difficult," he added, "that these steps will impact people." First Niagara hopes to find the ex-managers other jobs at the company, he told me.

Scots wha hae?

Gary Marshall, boss at Aberdeen Asset Management, the Scotland- based multinational money manager whose U.S. head- quarters is on Market Street, is promoting this year's Dad Vail Regatta Corporate Challenge in a clan-warrior spirit.

Marshall, 50, dressed in his blue-and-green Keith and Marshall family kilt, painted his face old-time Pictish blue (see Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart), posed with four grim, muscular Aberdeen men and women bearing crew oars, and sent the image to other company teams, urging them to race on the Schuylkill during the Dad Vail. (The firm also posted the image in a Sunday Inquirer ad.) Aberdeen helped rescue the regatta from moving to Jersey a few years back.

Vanguard Group, Janney Mont- gomery Scott, Nielsen-Kellerman, Yellow Book USA, and KPMG have all signed up again for this year's challenge races. First-time crews have also been recruited from Nationwide Funds Group and Glenmede.

Marshall is betting $5,000 (for charity) on his crew for winners' bragging rights.

Layoffs?

Hellman & Friedman L.L.C., San Francisco, said it was finished acquiring the SunGard Higher Education unit of Wayne-based SunGard Data Systems for $1.775 billion and merging it into Datatel Inc., based in Fairfax, Va.

The business will be called Datatel+SGHE until the owners come up with a new name, Datatel boss John Speer, who will head the combined firms, said in a statement.

SunGard will use sale proceeds "to pay down debt," spokesman George Thomas told me.

Datatel+SGHE sells Advance, Banner, Colleague, and Power- Campus software, in competition with products made by Oracle and proprietary and start-up rival systems.

Datatel+SGHE employs 3,000 and sells into 40 countries from sites including an office in Malvern. But "it is fair to say that there will be some roles in the combined company that will be redundant," spokeswoman Laura Kvinge told me.

"Our goal is to minimize the number of job reductions" through attrition and transfers, Kvinge added, while the firm seeks to expand "globally."

Parent SunGard Data, spun off by Sunoco in the early 1980s, was bought in 2005 by Silver Lake Partners and other big private- investment firms for $11.3 billion. Under pressure to boost returns, SunGard has reviewed plans for its remaining businesses, which include SunGard Availability (data backup and security services), SunGard Financial (trading and financial systems), and government services.

Whom you trust

Four out of five adults trust technology companies to tell the truth - while less than half trust bankers, brokers, and other financial-service pros, according to this year's Edelman Trust Barometer, a survey of 25,000 people around the world by a giant public-relations firm.

The survey also found that Chinese claim to trust their government most, Russians the least. Americans are below the global government-trust average, which helps explain the appeal of GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, with his pledges to "abolish" liberal appeals courts and end the Federal Reserve.


Contact columnist Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194, JoeD@phillynews.com,

or @PhillyJoeD on Twitter.

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