Over the past 25 years in the financial services industry I have seen and experienced so much that was inappropriate and downright illegal. Here is my first of many upcoming stories.
In 1987 I was hired as a sales assistant by Prudential Bache. As a registered sales assistant who enjoyed sales I was quickly mentored by a soon to be million dollar producer. Grant (I will omit his last name) was on the rise, he gave me opportunities to enhance my skills which added to his ability to succeed. We developed a great working relationship and I respected his work and his clients. Life was good.
As Grants production soared he became the largest producer in the branch. I was soon promoted from sales assistant to junior advisor and was moved to the bull pen. Although I was given no formal training I was thrilled with the move and was anxious and determined to succeed, but something changed. Whether success breeds corruption or whether corruption breeds success I am not sure but I do know that something wasn’t right. Grant had his retiree client’s trading CMO;’s while being margined to the max, not exactly suitable for those on a fixed income, but in those days who was looking? I felt something wasn’t right but the manager continued to be supportive of our team providing more and more resources. One day I was asked to call a client, encourage him to sell out of his current position and buy a new block of bonds. I was to tell the client the profit he made of the trade which would support the sale. As I did my own calculations I realized that the profit did not consider the margin interest charged to the client which was substantial. When I questioned Grant about the numbers he forcefully told me to do what I was told, that was the end of the discussion. He was asking me to lie to the client, I could not.
In the mean time after having what I thought to be a business lunch with Grant he wrote me a two page note which seemed not as professional as I would consider appropriate. Without any delay I met with the branch manager, I shared with him both my business and personal concerns detailing my discussions with Grant, his response? “Oh Adri you are just being too sensitive.” I immediately began looking for a new job at another firm. Eventually the advisor Grant was sued by his clients and disbarred from the industry, even the manager experienced disciplinary action removing him from a management position. Was I being too sensitive? I think not!