Thursday, March 31, 2005

The troll

We got a new broker last Friday. It’s a woman. When they placed her in the empty office next door to me I cringed. I’ve got nothing against female brokers or female anything. But this industry is overwhelmingly dominated by men and most women find they can’t make it. The few who do are 10 times more determined than the men, hard-nosed and cut throat. They’re vicious. I suppose it’s our fault they have to be that way. Maybe not us the brokers, but us the money holders.

That’s the biggest battle women in this field face. How does a beautiful 30 year old female get a 58 year old man to see past her perky bosoms and soft lips to appreciate the intelligence beneath? Simple. She doesn’t come equipped with those things. It’s sexist, absolutely, and I’m not condoning it, but the majority of the money out there, not all, just the majority, is in the hands of white male baby boomers. Most married with grandkids and a tidy little nest egg. Sure, there are the young entrepreneurs, those who come to the US and create their own opportunity, and the vast array of techies who made it big in the late 90’s bull market. But we’re talking about majorities. Our books aren’t made up of a compilation of the exceptions to the rule.

Convincing men from another era to see past her gender takes twice the talent for a woman as a broker. Or, she can be the ugliest fucking troll you’ve ever laid eyes on.

And that brings me back to Melissa. Melissa is 4’11” max and somewhere over the age of 45. She walks with a limp, has deep grooves in her face that add a decade to her appearance, bushy red troll hair, and thanks to the wonder of Marlboro, the voice of a Sam Elliot. And she’s a mega producer.

Most brokers when they jump firms run straight into their new offices and spend the next 72 hours straight on the phone with their clients, doing their best to convince as many as possible to follow them to the new firm. They have to do this. Because at the firm they left behind every broker in that office has been given his cut of the book and are doing exactly the same thing. Just like the scene from Jerry Maquire.

But Melissa didn’t do that. She walked in and made the rounds, shaking the hand of every other broker in the office. I’m sure she freaked around 4pm and got down to business, but not at first. Brokers jump firms at 2:45pm on Fridays. That’s the best day, best time. Other brokers leave at the close and have little time to react which minimizes competition for the book. But also allows the leaving broker time to catch his or her clients at the office. Some change their clients’ phone numbers in the system to stall the others, but those risk a temporary restraining order.

This week has been a different story for Melissa. She’s down to business. All week long I’ve been listening to the Marlboro grumbling next door commingled with the occasional hen cackle as she convinced her clients to come over. Our walls are thin as paper and I can hear every word.

This is the first time she’s jumped firms and after working with several other brokers who’ve done the same I thought perhaps I could give her some advice. You know, grace her with my wealth of knowledge. I should charge her for it, but let’s consider it my gift to her because that’s the kind of man that I am. Anything I can do to aid women's plight for equality.

I asked her to lunch today and she accepted. Just a few minutes ago I heard her on the phone with a client who had apparently asked to meet her for lunch. She said, “Let’s meet up tomorrow. I’m having lunch with the young, pretty boy in the office beside me today.”

Fucking troll.