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Send No More VEL, MMM 5-16-2011



Monday Morning Message, May 16, 2011

It was 1971, and I was a new trainee at Merrill Lynch.  Information today is so instantaneous, it is hard for people to understand how two teletype machines buzzing away in brokerage offices around the world used to spew out everything from corporate announcements to the operational and marketing ideas.  Bond inventories that can be checked in real time today, used to be sent each morning and that status would be all each office would have for the day.  So when news rang out that shares of Virginia Electric were available on the broad tape at a price slightly different from what you could see on the ticker tape, I was curious as to what and why that would be happening?

This particular offering was also strange in that it seemed to go on forever.  It was the dog days of summer (July) and the market was pretty lethargic back then and total daily market volume was even less than the average of 5,000,000 shares for the entire NYSE.  There was no combined tape yet so that did not include NASDAQ volume but even combined would not have exceeded that average.  It seems this particular VEL stock was being offered on a “special” basis that included a slightly higher price for the client and for sure a higher commission for the customer’s man.  The company wanted to raise new money for operations and it seemed the only way to sell the stock was to offer these incentives.  When I asked several brokers why we would sell this when a client could buy it for less on the exchange, I got some pretty impatient and curt answers.  The most pragmatic answer was, “look kid get out of my face, I got to make my month!”  This is not that different from, “We can make a lot of money…”

Thirty-four years later I can explain a lot of things about choosing to do the right thing when working in the brokerage industry. I ended up doing my share of many deals over those years.  Before I would do any offering, I looked at myself in the mirror and answered two simple questions, “Is it right, and does it fit?” “Is this right for the client and does this elevate their interests?”  This does not rise to the level of moral decision making that we discussed in last week’s story of slavery in the Belgian Congo, but it is a slippery slope that once you take a slide down it and make a little extra money, offers great temptation to just keep on sliding.  There are temptations all around you today… which ones are right and which ones should you avoid in the name of upholding your witness to those you influence?

One of the characters in my office was a former minister who left the church to become a stock broker.   He would stand over the teletype machine like it was the podium from which he used to preach.  When his voice rang out the words to one and all that we should send no more orders on Virginia Electric the office clapped in sarcastic relief that no one would feel pressured to sell any more of that deal.  When I run into friends of mine who were also trainees with me back then, we often greet each other with the mantra, “Send no more Virginia Electric” to remind each of us that integrity is what you do not what you say you believe.  Today, think about where the VEL’s are in your life and what temptations are facing you that make you think it would be easier to just do them to make your month? 

 I Corinthians 10:13 (RSV) “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

any thanks to all of you who have purchased and shared copies of Kingdom Gains to share the messages of BRI.  We are delighted that we now have several reviews on Amazon and Barnes &  Keep thinking about what God would have you do with all of this.  Coming soon, will be a study guide that will help to bring BRI alive in small group Bible studies. Who is in your sphere of influence who would benefit and enjoy reading Kingdom Gains? 



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