“Highly Intelligent People Don’t Make Good Stockbrokers” – Part 1

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So said the Vice Chairman of a large New York City brokerage firm to your correspondent during a job interview several decades ago in Palm Beach. This firm is still a going concern on the Street so I will refrain from using their name.

At that time, the Vice-Chairman of the firm spent his winters in Palm Beach and kept an office on the same floor as the local retail branch of the firm. I had been making the rounds of the various New York brokerage firms with offices in Palm Beach, which was all of them, and had called on the branch manger a week previous. He thought well of me and asked me to have a conversation a few days hence with the Vice-Chairman of the firm. Obviously, I had this job nailed.

Unlike most corporate big-shots, the Vice Chairman was an extremely courteous older man who didn’t keep me waiting for more than a minute. When his secretary showed me into his office he had my resume front and center on his desk. We began to talk and after about ten minutes he said, “son, you strike me as an intelligent young man.” This is in the bag!

Imagine the scene: I’m twenty-seven, all scrubbed up. I have new haircut and I’m wearing a navy blue pin-stripped suit with a vest, yes, a vest. Suits came with vests in those days. A red power tie? No, that wasn’t the fashion in those days. I had on a yellow silk tie with a subdued pattern. Those of you who remember the Street in the late 80s will recall that every self-respecting broker wore a yellow tie. Reason? I don’t know.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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