More Stock Broker Hard Sell

I am still getting the hard sell from cold-callers touting securities.  I am told this is because we small business owners are just behind dentists and doctors in terms of our capacity to make bonehead investments.

Before I proceed with this story, there are two things you need to know about me:

  • I answer my own phone at the office
  • I have never, ever listened to a sales pitch for an investment or security.  If I am in a good mood, I interrupt and say, "sorry, not iterested" before they can even name the stock.  If I am in a bad mood, I just hang up.

So the other day, I accidentally let one of them go further than I usually allow.  He said he was from Olympia Asset Management.  (There is an Olympia Asset Management web page, but I don't know if it is the same company and the web page has not been updated for several years.)  I let him run for a bit because a friend of mine runs a very well-respected financial planning firm with a different name but also with Olympia in the title, and for a moment I thought it might have been one of his folks.

Anyway, he proceeds to try to convince me that we have talked before and discussed a certain security.  "Remember me, we talked six months ago about ____".  Of course, I had never heard of the guy.  At this point I usually hang up, because I have heard this crap before -- it is a common pitch.  The best I can figure is that they are trying to give themselves more credibility by either:

  1. Trying to imply that we have some kind of relationship we actually don't have.  Or worse...
  2. Trying to convince me that he touted stock A six months ago, so now he can tell me stock A has gone up in price.  Many reputable brokers built their reputation by cold calling people and saying:  Watch these 3 stocks and see how they do and I will call you back in 6 months.  That way, you can evaluate their stock picking without risk.  The modern sleazy approach is to pick a stock that has gone up a lot in the last 6 months, and then call some harried business person and pretend you called them with that pick 6 months ago, hoping that they will give you the benefit of the doubt.

For some reason, maybe because I was bored, I decided to chat with him, and I had to admit that he was trained pretty well never to give up.  I interrupted him after the "do you remember" opening and said that we could not possible have spoken about a stock, because I always hang up on people within 5 seconds of knowing it is a stock pitch.  He said he had sent me a packet of information.  I said that he had not.  He insisted that we had talked, and that I had promised to write down the name of the stock on my calendar.  I told him I don't have a calendar  (which is actually true - I manage myself through a dysfunctional combination of memory and post-it notes).  Sensing weakness, I turned on him and said "gee, I was out of town a lot 6 months ago and am surprised you got hold of me.  What date did you call."  Then he starts getting all vague on me.  Anyway, I finally tired of the game and hung up but he never relented in his assertion that he and I had had a nice chat about some security.

Please, please.  Avoid these guys on the phone like the plague.  Several years ago I had a guy call me with some oil drilling "opportunity."  In that case, I also made an exception to my rule and listened to see just how bad this thing was going to be.  Finally I broke in and said "that's ridiculous, no one in their right mind would send you money for that."  He too was relentless, until I finally said "Look, I know Tony Soprano is standing behind you in the boiler room there and putting pressure on you, but I am not interested."  Then, without a pause, he starts telling me how he once threw a Molotov cocktail into the car of someone he didn't like.  I don't know if he was just having fun with me, but he was either wildly unprofessional or very creepy.  Beware, Beware, Beware.

  • http://albany-lawyer.blogspot.com/2007/01/verizon-idiots-and-debt-collection.html Debt Collection

    That's Funny, I had heard that felons only went to work for collection agencies. :)

    Steve

  • Sol

    I thought the sleazy modern way of doing this was to call a batch of people, giving half one side of the prediction and half the other. Then you look at how the stock actually did and only call the half of the group you gave the correct prediction to...

  • John

    When these boneheads call, I like to ask them for a specific recommendation for today. When they give it, I say "sounds like a good short" and usually _they_ hang up.

  • Mesa EconoGuy

    I work in the securities industry, and I’ve never heard of this Olympia Asset Management. Not that they’re necessarily the same firm, but there’s a major red flag right away on the website – their order routing reports aren’t up-to-date. All broker-dealers are required to post quarterly reports on what they did with orders sent to them under Reg NMS Rule 606 (the old 11AC1-6 rule). The most recent one I can find on this site is Q1 2003.

    Many firms are using terms like “Asset Management,” “Capital Management,” “Capital Markets” and other euphemisms to sucker people into believing they are established firms. And this doesn’t excuse the behavior of some of the bigger old-line Wall St. houses, either.

    Most of these people are small-time penny stock pushers (you sometimes get this stuff in the mail) who use Yahoo bulletin boards and the like to generate “buzz” in pump and dump schemes.

    There are very specific things you can and cannot say on the phone, and at seminars and public presentations, about performance, investment costs (commissions), and related. My guess is this is probably some boiler room

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181984

    operation, and they’ll probably be out of business in 6-12 months, or whenever the SEC gets to them.

  • Mike

    I believe, as the owner of a small business, someone has put a big sign on my back that says "Sucker." While this label may be well deserved, I still don't buy anything over the phone. If they're not selling stock, they want to sell me merchant processing (with a big cash advance just for signing on).

    My favorite of the too good to be true offers is the one week vacation in the Bahamas for $99. This deal comes in routinely over my fax machine. The offer includes airfare from Dallas. I laugh when I think of what a real hotel in the Bahamas that has a weekly rate of $99 would look like. Can you imagine the size of the bugs?

  • http://duanegran.com/blog/ Duane Gran

    Investments are a peculiar commodity to sell, but most people in the finance industry long enough learn that it is a relationship business. Many people can improve their rate of return and make wiser financial decisions by using an adviser, but the best relationships are with a fiduciary. They are legally obligated to put your interests first.

  • Curt

    I don't know where to leave advice on the internet, but I highly advise not to do business with a brokerage called John Thomas out of NYC. I am licking deep wounds. Small business owner