After I left the firm of the wooden leads, my goal was to find a firm who’d sponsor me for the series 7 exam. The name of the firm was unimportant, just as long as I could buy and sell stocks. By that time, I’d been trading stocks–successfully– for many years, as I came into some money from an annuity that was set aside for me when I was only 4 years old. It’s not what you think. The money was won in a civil suit against a bar owner– because my father was killed in cold blood by the establishment’s bar tender.
My Mother set up the annuity so that it would be released to me when I was 18. My share was very little, but I used it to invest in the market. I’d been interested in stocks since I was 10 years old and had made small investments, with zero success, throughout the years. When I was a teenager, my best friend and I would play stock market, paper trading off of the events of the trading session with paper and pencil. By the time I was 18, I knew almost every stock symbol by heart and had a fair understanding of what made stocks move. I was ready to play. The first thing I did with my share was buy AMER, the ticker symbol of the original America Online. I did so, against the advice of all of NYC’s pension fund managers working for the NYC Comptrollers office, during my summer internship.
The top boss at the time warned me that MSFT would take over the space and that AMER was “nothing more than a fad.” As an aside, Jay Z’s mother worked in that office too, as a NYC municipal bond trader. I was the only one in the office who knew her son, since I was an avid fan in the arts of “underground rap music”– at that moment in time.
Needless to say, I was right about AMER; but it took a very long time to materialize. By 2000, my $6,000 investment ballooned to $250k. That’s how early I was to AMER.
Back to the subject at hand. I took at job at a firm, located at 17 State street in NYC, overlooking the water. It was a beautiful building, with a magnificent view. I really loved the office space. My new boss was not a big broker, but big enough to hire myself and two of my friends from “the wooden lead firm.”
We were the only one’s working at that place. All of the big brokers were holed up in offices and the pikers in the boardroom had little desire to do anything but get by.
As promised, I was sponsored to take my series 7 and given two weeks of “paid vacation” to study and hopefully pass it. I remember the evening before my exam like it was yesterday. My broker called me up and said “stop studying. This is it. Go drink a glass of wine, relax and do your best.” The next day I passed the exam and was given the privilege to recommend and sell securities to the public.
Aside from pitching new accounts for my broker, I had transferred my brokerage account to his rep, since I was not able to manage accounts yet. After I passed the series 7, I was obligated to this fine chap to open up 25 new accounts for him before I was given the right to manage my own business. It’s a right of passage thing and I believed it was a worthwhile experience.
I made 12 successful trades in a row and it shocked my broker. The bastard was making me pay $100 commissions per trade, so I was pretty much working for free. My gains became so prolific, the bigger brokers at the firm started to copy my trades. I was flattered and excited to contribute; but I was also bitter as hell because I wanted to get out from under his tutelage. As much as I liked him, I felt he was my inferior, in both money management skills and salesmanship. He had little to offer me, with exception to a $350 per week salary. It was a stretch for him. He liked the idea of having myself and two others work for him, as he too dreamed of getting big and starting his own firm. But his gross commissions couldn’t support the staff, no matter how many new accounts I opened for him, which was 8 in month 1.
He shared an office with two brokers, one legendary amongst the people who knew him. They were very big producers and my broker was obsessed with learning from them. Instead of working, he’d sit in the office with a pen and pad, listening to every word the other two brokers uttered when talking to accounts–jotting everything he heard down so that he could share it with me later. One day I walked in and he had a nervous breakdown. With tears streaming down his face, he was saying to himself “I can’t do this anymore. I am running out of money.” Everyone just looked at him with pity; but I knew it was time to make arrangements to leave.
While in my second month pitching new accounts there, I met a truly amazing talent. But it was wasted and I lost faith in him rather quickly.
I had made up my mind. It was time to leave the firm and find a place that would permit me to manage my own accounts. I wanted to fulfill my end of the bargain, however, and open up 25 accounts promised to my broker. I looked at it as a learning experience. If I could open up 10 accounts, I could open up 100. I worked frantically, from 8am until midnight, almost every single night. I didn’t have any cold callers to feed me qualified leads, so I did it myself in the daytime and pitched accounts at night. My wife hated me, since I was never home to see her and our newborn. We nearly split up a dozen times, but held it together because we’re both traditional minded people.
One day my broker asked me to hang up the phone and to see him in his office. I was pissed off by this because I was in the middle of pitching a new account. When I got to his office, he was asking his office mates what they wanted from Starbucks, then proceeded to relay this dreadful message to me. Without a seconds delay, my response was “go f*ck yourself.” I told him “I don’t waste time fetching coffee for anyone. If you want coffee, you’re gonna have to get it yourself.”
Words cannot express how mad and slighted I felt at the time. I felt under-appreciated and humiliated. These traits were likely picked up from my pistol packing grandfather, who was known to pistol whip the other old men in the sitting area for looking at him funny.
The story continues, as I am not dead just yet.