Saturday, April 01, 2006

Spongebobs, Parasites & Leeches


Senior Corporate / Investment Pros I Hate

Its funny how many times investment pros get asked to do a deal on a contingent basis - i.e. only get paid if the deal gets done. I wonder what would our parents think when we tell them that we work on a contingency basis, after they have spent their lifetime savings sending us to college. What is this mentality, this contingent mentality - it happens way too often in Asia, not so much in First world countries. Our brains do not matter, effort does not matter, only success?? Why the aversion from committment fee, engagement fee, out of pocket expenses?? You go and try to get some US investment bankers on a contingency deal - they'd laugh at you. Are some people not worth a salary? When you take advantage of people like the situations cited above, you are a parasite and a leech - you suck people dry, you will not share till you've got your share, you will be rich though but not many will cherish your time on earth.

Another prime example of sponging off people are usually the very senior corporate people, they will "pick your brains" for ideas, insights, opinions, analysis of situations, corporate deals, business developments, industry turning points, etc.. Somehow, these people think it is absolutely OK to engage others to suck their ideas, sponge on their brain power and take credit for them. I know of so many hedge/ fund managers who will listen to your picks, buys them, make tons, and never bother to return the favour via stock orders or a call. Many senior investment pros and senior management people feel it is part of their "ability" to cultivate these various pots of honey to suck them dry occassionally to help them protect their position. Its like high school all over during the exams, and the brats are still looking over to copy your work (and doing so much better than you).

Don't get me wrong, it is OK to exchange ideas among friends (genuine friends). It is also important to let the other person know what your motives are upfront. It is also important to have the graciousness to acknowledge your sources, and where possible, to repay them back in kind or even materially. How many of us do that? It is exactly similar to those people who will ask a doctor at a social setting about how to treat their medical condition - so what has changed that makes it OK not having to pay for professional advice, just because we are at Starbucks??

Too many investment pros and senior corporate management people regard a conversation or a Q&A session with another professional as just a conversation - while a lawyer can charge tons per hour for the same service. Don't be a parasite or a leech, it is a pure reflection on your character, unless you are the manipulative sort of character (who would do very well in the corporate world anyway)... give proper due and recognition to professional comments, analysis, opinions... (unless they are voluntary in the form of blogs like mine). Always be upfront, "I need to hear you views on... if you don't mind ... but stop me if I am overstepping the line..." .... "Thanks, I appreciate your time, is there anyway I could repay you ..." .... "Hey, I made xxx for taking your advice, I hope you will accept this US$200,000 check from me" .....

If you are a corporate parasite or a investment leech, and see nothing wrong with it cause it helps you get to where you are - cheeers, and go lick your own balls cause you can (no backbone). Riches, fame and power will never compensate for lack of character, integrity and fair mindedness.

No comments: