I heart Wall Street

About a month ago, the traffic on this site hit a milestone– 100k views.

It’s a milestone.

nothing to shout from rooftops about, I know.

Most people would have probably given up by now, but I’m not a quitter. Either way, 100k feels good. And, I’ll never forget the date of that first post.

Why was the number 10 scared? Because…

07.08.09I have two little kids running around my house, who think that joke is hilarious. I also have a thing for numbers, hence it also being the perfect date to hit Publish on this:

Change is as easy as counting, but we all put in the appropriate mental blocks and barriers to prevent it. It’s fear; and an ego thing.

The same goes for the financial industrial complex, the bastion of egos. As the renowned British philosopher, Alan Watts once said, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

I went on, citing yet another way Wall Street was refusing to change in the face of all the self-destruction we’d just witnessed (again).

Can you believe that was almost 3 years ago?

Since then, I’ve quit blogging a million times.

Sometimes for months at a time. Each time the reasons were different: it was too hard, too much, too scary. I was too busy. Too futile. Too big. I’d make mistakes; mentally-challenged mistakes in some people’s eyes. What am I doing?

Of course, It’s easy to push away & stop. It’s hard to push through. It’s easy to forget the reasons I wanted to blog. It’s hard to remember the reasons I wanted to change. I’m not always such a great dancer; white guy overbite– guilty. Such is life. But, like I said, I’m not a quitter.

I’m also not a blogger, I just play one on TV.

I’m an Adviser by trade. By nature I’m a designer. Systems mostly.

By discipline, I am now a blogger, because I’ve been doing it so long. But honestly, it’s always been more of a diary for me. I like writing stories. Blogging isn’t really for story telling in the financial world, unless I’m a professional storyteller; and I’m not.

Really, I like to make things work by talking to one another. And more smartly. Poorly timed stoplights? My wife will tell you that I have the entire neighborhood mapped with solutions. It’s geekery (yes, it’s a real word). I just love technology, because it’s one of the few places where, if I have an idea, I can — truly can — find a frictionless solution, costing me, many times, nothing more than time; at least until I can validate its value. And, that’s really quite revolutionary.

For some younger people, certain things should just happen, like this –> I can have clients update their information on a simple web form, then I receive a text message letting me know they did it, my address book is updated, along with an email summarizing the changes & my team is assigned tasks the next day accordingly. All from you filling out a form.

When I email you, a copy is placed in your file automatically (including the attachments). It’s searchable. So are your responses, if need be. It doesn’t matter though, everything is backed-up & archived anyway. And how much would you pay for such wonderful magic? How about free? Well, then we got too big — but for you newbies with your iPads for the “grandkids,” it’s there — waiting for you. Just imagine it’s your friend telling you everything changed, and you don’t have to do a thing.

Those systems are real, they are here right now.

And for another few thousand dollars a month those documents, we need to submit with the information you just gave us (hopefully without mistakes you made — so you can’t blame us), would take like four clicks to prepare. No typing, no data entry. No printing necessary. Three clicks to send to you for signature – securely, simply.

It gets better — You can then sign it on your computer, iPhone, or iPad — All with your mouse or finger. Five clicks later, it’s possible for us to send it to your custodian for review, right after being shared with my entire team (by permission) — on their iPhones & iPads, if I want. I can do this for my entire firm. Oh, and every piece of that system has pretty great customer support.

For the advisors who are just starting to think about leaving the Wall Street incumbents, it is a brave new world.

Even a shadow of that did not exist 5 years ago. All web-based — super backed-up, reliable, 24/7. And for the rest of the things the work-life throws my way? For like $65 a month, anytime you send me information in some way that doesn’t fit my system — There’s a service that transcribes, reformats files & the information — just about any way I need it. — securely. 24/7. They can do the same thing for you.

So, here’s the thing America. Sitting XXX points from 13,000 is noteworthy… it’s a milestone. It’s not really anything to shout from the rooftops though. So, maybe you should be reflecting like I am today. You hear me, America? (Man, I miss Bernie Mac)

We have a choice. We can keep going along pretending I’m a blogger, pretending you’re happy that you’re still reading stuff like this:

SF Gate:

Goldman Sachs will pay $22 million to resolve U.S. regulators’ claims that the firm failed to implement policies to keep its stock analysts from tipping select clients about upcoming research changes.

Goldman Sachs held weekly huddles from 2006 to 2011 in which analysts discussed short-term trading ideas and traders shared their views of the markets, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement Thursday. The meetings created “a serious risk” that employees and clients could trade on the non-public information, the SEC said.

$22 million dollars, fuck you very much. The equivalent of Goldman’s sofa money. Somebody do the math on that, what is that? 10 minutes of revenue? 20? And this is the redemption? This is the firm doing God’s work?

Yet again, “a serious risk” taken to afford those with access an advantage over those who don’t.

And why? Why not change? I mean, if we all agree no insider trading should be the rule then why break it? And if the rule is dumb, just make a hard & fast case for why using insider information IS a good idea. And I’m not taking a side here — Afterall, let’s be honest, most of the regulatory landscape is a series of (sometimes morally) compromised reactions to the lunacy du jour from Wall Street.

But obviously, these firms agree, at least as citizens: it’s not fair, not smart; it is a good rule for our society to follow. Otherwise stand up publicly & say you disagree. Say you vehemently disagree. Admit anything. Deny everything. Don’t settle, admitting nor denying nothing. You have the money. Well, maybe $22 million less. Jeez, grow a pair — give us a Think Different campaign. Advertise. Tell us your point of view. Tell us all why you continually breaking the rules we make to stop you from doing more dumb shit, is a good idea. Just to keep the status quo. What… no takers? What, no one’s gonna tweet me an answer?

So, why not be civil & play by the rules? Mistakes happen. And some rules are dumb. Outdated. Some are even onerous. But are you that greedy? That evil? That serially careless? Are you that dumb? Do you think we are? Ok, so you’re power hungry. But for what? A world full of what? What do you want? Tell us!!

I think I know what it is. I’ve been there. You’re confused. You’re not sure what you want anymore. I think it’s like me when I was out in the wilderness. I had to get clear about my reality and what I wanted to change. I had to face the reality that if I wanted to get to “today” — I was going to have to change. I had to change some habits, make myself get uncomfortable. Make mistakes, a lot of them.

I was going to have to become a blogger.

And here’s the thing — after you get all that money or power or whatever it is you want that is worth so much more than “this” — what are you going to do with it? Jeff Bezos is finding pieces of the Apollo rocket at the bottom of the ocean to donate to museums. And you’re buying umbrella stands we can all point at in shock, when you blow up another company with your shenanigans.

“We had no idea all of these bonds we researched, collateralized, syndicated, issued, advised on, and sold were going to be worthless — how could we know, they lied to us too….”

I mean it pays the bills, but if you’re so smart, why do you always look so dumb, and at our expense? Why don’t you invent something awesome? Is this really the best way to make money?

And from 2000-2008, I worked in that system, run by people like that. Doing everything to maintain some sense of the status quo.

I know it’s not all sunshine & rainbows, but it doesn’t have to be this.

The World is flat. You have to change. I see it now. Today would not exist without change — whether I chose to change or not. But I did choose to change. And because I did, I am here, in front of your eyeballs fine reader, not because I hate Wall Street. I’m here because I heart Wall Street.


The Manifesto





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