Bashing quote-unquote “Wall Street” is always popular—sometimes even a national obsession. In 2008 through 2010, it replaced baseball as America’s national pastime. It even went global, supplanting soccer (sorry—football for our non-US friends).
All that is silly. We always look for a scapegoat after a crisis. “Wall Street” is easy because successful folks there can make a lot of money—and folks with pitchforks usually follow the money. Personally, I think the ability to make a lot of money is a great good thing, and you do too, or you wouldn’t be reading this book.
Wall Street (no quotes) does provide a useful service—helping firms access capital they need to grow and earn more future profits. More future profits are good! They increase shareholder value, provide jobs (everyone likes jobs), and make products more innovative, cheaper, faster, smaller, sometimes bigger—all good things.
That doesn’t mean the brokerage and financial services industries aren’t without problems. I set my firm up about as far away as possible from “Wall Street”—literally and figuratively—on purpose. My firm’s headquarters are located high in a redwood forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Look out our windows and you see tall trees, not the neighboring building’s glass and steel.
Why are we ensconced on a 2,000-foot-high mountaintop? In my view, the financial services industry, which in large part is driven by product-centric sales, is rife with the opportunity for conflicts ...

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