Salesmen Aren't Paid To Ask Too Many Questions

Here's the latest missive from our Highly Placed Professional.

'So, Hector Sants, the Chief Executive of UK market regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA), says that bankers failed to understand some of the products they were selling and trading in the run up to the credit crunch.

Well, let me tell you something about sales and trading - you'd sell your grandmother if you had to in order to get your sales fix! And you'd trade in human remains if you could guarantee a nice risk-free profit. That's the nature of the beast.

I've often been in presentations where I didn't feel entirely comfortable with a product, but if there was pressure from syndicate to make a sale, and the pay-out was juicy enough, I'd feel I had to do my job, and take the money. (And I think I'm one of the more moral salespeople!). And, before the complaints start to pour in, you need to remember that the guys who do have the balls to stand up in meetings and say: 'Chaps, this is a rubbish deal', tend to be the ones that get fired or paid a zero bonus. The reality is that people like me are paid not to ask too many questions.

Now, because my firm didn't go in for those once-thought-sexy mortgage backed deals, I have always been highly sceptical of the sheep-like craze for CDOs and leveraged structured products. I also happen to think that hedge funds often don't hedge at all, and take outrageous risks that are not always understood or authorized by their clients. But would I have sold those deals if I had been given the chance ? You bet I would - I'm a salesman, and I'd have only been doing my job.

If Sants is looking for some folks to blame, he should actually look no further than the structurers of these products - the geeks who really knew it was all smoke and mirrors from the off. Maybe the FSA should get digging, find a few of them, and throw 'em in jail'.


1. 'Typical salesmen - sells the sh.t, and then blame someone else for inventing it!'.

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