One of Taleb’s quotes is ‘never trust an employee’ – I guess it includes commission agents, also. If you are not paying negotiated fees to an adviser, you are paying a pretty high fees in some other form that you cannot see.

Here are the case of 2 employees (some coincidence they share a surname).

Both of them were working for a big government player in the public sector.

Let us take the case of S. He was working with a big player in the public sector in financial services (let us call it PSU 1). He left that company to join another company PSU 2. At PSU 2 he would regale his staff about the mistakes, bloomers, etc at PSU 1. He did not do anything great at both these organisations, but he could create a good visibility especially spending the money of PSU 2. He would say ‘look at the performance of psu1 – IT DOES NOT DESERVE TO EXIST’. LOL.

Then he left PSU 2 and joined a private company, he then shifted 3 jobs – shows what a shortage of people we have in the financial services industry! All the companies that hired him liked the fact that the was not asking for too high a salary. Recently he was sacked (he of course has a nicer version as his ego will permit) and he is currently unemployed. I would think at his competence level and salary expectations, he is unemployable.

NOW comes the greatest move. He has convinced psu 1 to take him back. Watch this space.

The other guy – let us call him Y. He was also in a big psu financial services company. From there he moved to 4 other private sector companies. Funnily all the jobs he had more or less the same designation. In his company number 3 he had a product which was a best seller. The product was lousy.

He made many attempts to tell me that it was a great product, and the usual blah blah….but frankly to him it did not matter. It was a brilliantly selling product. I used to indulge him and say – sorry I do not understand a product that is compulsory payment for such a long time….etc. It did not matter to him as to what I thought – I was not in his sales team anyway. The product was selling – his best agent was selling hand over fist….The reasons? Of course easy to guess…

The commission was great. Those of you who have a weak heart, please sit down before I tell you that it was a product with almost 60% commission.

Then he joined company number 4. I met him there too. (The trainer hat takes you to all places, right?). I met him and another colleague.

Suddenly this product came up for discussion. He said “Subra that is a real lousy product. Over a 10 year life of the product it WILL SURELY UNDER-PERFORM the Public Provident Fund, and for all you know the sales proceeds could be taxable’. His colleague was shocked that he spoke like this about his immediate past employer. To me it was not new – I had heard MANY stories from him ABOUT all his previous employers.

Agree Nassim Taleb, I fully agree with you, Sir!

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  1. Karan this post is not about products, this is about how people speak the language that their pay cheques force them to speak. I know of banca products with 90% commission also. Market forces are at work. If a client buys such a product (for whatever reasons) who am I to say the product is right or wrong…there is a buyer and a seller, simple. Client is not dumb na?

  2. Your post may likely have the same effect as Liars Poker.
    One may want to become the employee one would not want to trust!(Gandhi meets Taleb!)After all it pays well.

  3. Sales guys tells lies or atleast hide facts while selling in 90% of the fields. Be it financial services, real estate, electronics, IT services or whatever you mention. They say it is their job (may be they are true!!!). It is upto us (customer) who had to enquire and take due decision. Blogs like urs alert us regarding the salestraps in financial services industry. But there are no people(related to other industries) running user friendly blogs where they take customers for ride

  4. when you read “He took me for a ride” was “I trusted him and went for a ride” solutions emerge. Like the old Max N Y life ad said ‘Advice to sabhi log detein hain. Aap kiski sun te ho?’….

    when u TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your actions, the quality of introspection improves and then solutions emerge.

  5. “I trusted him and went for a ride”., yes subra. There’s an rajinikanth dialougue in his film ‘muthu’,

    “The culprit is the not the one who cheats but the one who trusts and got cheated”

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