So my rather short career at Scotiabank came to an abrupt halt. I had never been fired before, so I was in denial. How could this happen to me? How could they do this to me? The answer was simply that they didn’t like me. Yup, pretty simple. As I mentioned earlier, the plain and simple fact is that no one gets fired for being incompetent. They get fired if the boss doesn’t like them (also known as a management problem).
While I was at Scotiabank I decided that I should try to find a financial institution to help me build my own derivatives shop. It was a pretty ambitious task, but I had experience from the past in making something from nothing. So I talked to a couple of the insurance companies in Canada (following the AIG Financial Products example in the United States, insurance companies had a number of natural advantages). So, amazingly enough, I came across a life insurance company based in Waterloo, Ontario that displayed some interest. It was then called the Mutual Life of Canada (the company subsequently demutualised and was merged out of existence with other Canadian life insurance companies).
The process was a slow one. When I was let go from Scotiabank, the project was still percolating along with no end in sight. I needed a job. My income came to a grinding halt, but the bills kept rolling in. Was there really life after Scotiabank?
When I found that Mutual Life had an interest in the derivatives shop concept, I contacted a few people who I had worked with in the past. One thing I didn’t appreciate at the time and I still can’t believe even today, is how self-serving and self-absorbed people are. The response I got from the two individuals that I contacted was pretty luke warm. I thought that this was an opportunity of a lifetime. To have your own business through the life company providing the funding. I was wrong. Both of the individuals that I contacted were gainfully employed, they had good jobs. They could care less that I was struggling to get back into the labor force. With all the job hopping, I had an impressive resume in terms of who I had worked for but was a flop on hard experience.
So the plan languished. I was committed to keeping it alive and managed to keep it on the “warmer”. What was missing was a business plan.
Mutual Life at the time had a relationship with a boutique securities firm. They introduced me to a couple of people there. They would be responsible for doing the “due diligence” on the plan. After a number of meetings (and I thought that they would dump the idea), they were becoming pretty enthusiastic about the plan and recommended to Mutual Life that they move ahead in putting the pieces together.
Remember that at the time I was out of work, my savings and other resources were limited. I was unable to sustain myself and dedicate myself to carrying on with this project. But my amigos were doing their own thing and would not help me move the project forward. So even though I found work (I’ll discuss that later), I could not move the “dream” forward.
Life after Scotiabank
I found work. The project was just lying around. One of my “partners” subsequently lost his job, picked up the project and ran with it to a conclusion, without me. He never invited me to play a role, never offered me a job and never acknowledged that he owed me anything for making the introduction.
Unfortunately what I learned from that experience is when you give someone half a chance, they will screw you. No doubt. When he lost his job, he jumped on the project. When I was out of work, “don’t worry, be happy.” I should have papered it over and not assumed that he would behave properly, showing some gratitude for having sourced a partner interested in setting up a derivatives subsidiary. One more lesson in life and work. You can never go wrong doing things in a business-like fashion. Remember, it’s not personal, it’s business. Not everyone behaves like this, but assuming that they will you will never go wrong.
It’s ironic in that my “friend” who set up that derivatives business subsequently lost big time when it didn’t work out. There is some justice after all. But cold comfort with respect to a great plan executed properly by thoughtful people might have turned out to be something pretty grand. Oh well, that’s what happens when you’re too greedy. You know the old saying, bears make money, bulls make money, but pigs get slaughtered. And he was quite the pig!