Third Place Is You're Fired

Today’s blog post title is pulled from Alec Baldwin’s mesmerizing speech in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. His character is brought in to boost sales by announcing a new “contest”. The winner receives a Cadillac, second place gets a set of steak knives and as the title indicates, third place costs you your job.

The salespeople in Glengarry Glen Ross were selling real estate investments, but similar stories can be found in the financial services (financial advisors and/or insurance sales). Week long vacations down south can be had by placing a certain amount of business during a “sales contest” month in some firms. And many firms have quotas – if you don’t generate X number of dollars in commissions, you can kiss your job good-bye.

Now, not all firms operate this way – so I don’t want to give you the impression that the entire industry is forelorn. But it might be fun/surprising/shocking to see your financial advisor’s response to questions about sales incentives at his or her firm. The body language will speak volumes.

Someone forwarded an article that is worth reading related to this topic: “ICI Chief Favours Fiduciary Role For Advisers“. This article is written for an American audience, but should apply equally here. It’s amazing that this isnt already a requirement, and it’s also amazing that such thinking is considered pushing the envelope!

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 5 comments
  • Thicken My Wallet

    Lawyers have fiduciary duties but their fees have not come down so the argument in the article rings hallow with me and is pretty typical of the sales culture of the financial industry.

    The point of being a fiduciary is not that you have to sell the cheapest service (again, a comment on how sales, and not sales oriented, the industry is). It is rather there are real consequences to your actions and you cannot employ a “fire and forget” approach to your client dealings.

  • Thicken My Wallet

    Oops, I said have said service oriented, not sales oriented.

  • H



    thanks for the post.

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