Institutional Arrogance

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(1).  When management thinks they are smarter than everyone else, including their regulators.


(2).  When management thinks they can simply manage their way out of anything.


“Well, Ken…I think there’s a little institutional arrogance coming out of the executive office on this Reg. W thing.  If it were me, I probably wouldn’t have opened the meeting by calling the Fed examiners a bunch of pencil-pushing bureaucrats.  But, that’s just me.”


Props to Tim P. for the submission.


Internal-Use Only

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(1).  A way to identify a document or email that should not be sent outside of the firm, unless of course you are a disgruntled employee seeking a spectacular exit from your current job.


“Dude, I’m pretty sure that spreadsheet you just sent to the Wall Street Journal was internal-use only.”


Keep Some Powder Dry

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(1).  To only execute a portion of an investment plan, just in case your recommendations end up sucking.


“Given the markets lately, I’d like to keep some powder dry in case we see a tactical move we’d like to make down the road.  That’s okay, I’m not really sure I understand what I just said either…”


Kissing Frogs

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(1).  To take in a bunch of crummy accounts, hoping one of them will eventually turn into a good account.


“No, no … we’re definitely going to have to kiss some frogs along the way, but if just one or two of them convert … now, that’s a good business!”


Kissing Frogs

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(1).  Taking on a bunch of crummy accounts in hopes that one or two of them will turn into a good account.  Some do, most don’t.


“Look, sometimes you just have to keep kissing frogs until one of them turns into a prince!  One of these companies is bound to go public someday!  And when it does, we’ll be ready!”


Long Runway

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(1).  The sales process for a prospect who takes a really, really long time to make a decision to hire you to do whatever it is you do.


“The Griffin opportunity?  We’ve got a long runway on that one.  This guy took two months to decide whether he was going to try out wearing gray socks to work!”


Low-Hanging Fruit

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(1).  A euphemism for a low-quality class of prospective clients that the firm believes will be easy to “pick off”.  The term is usually used during strategy meetings in which management announces its decision to focus its marketing efforts on higher volume (as opposed to quality of clients) in order to meet its revenue goals.


“Okay team, this year we’re going to focus on the low-hanging fruit out there.  How do we do it?  VOLUME!  That’s how we do it!”


(2).  A term that describes “easy wins” used by salesmen to give prospective clients a sense of euphoria that you and only you hold the keys to their success.  After the contract is signed, the salesman will then exit the relationship, forever.


“What we’ll do first is go after the low-hanging fruit to give you a leg up on your competition.  Once that process is complete, your account manager will explain the plan going forward.”


Mass Affluent

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(1).  A nice way of describing clients who’re not that rich.


“Look, Jim … we’re not really targeting the mass affluent here.  We’d much rather compete with everyone else for the same 400 or so ultra-high-net-worth clients … hopefully score one or two and then retire before they inevitably get bored with us and move on.”


Numbers Guy

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(1).  The guy on the sales team that’s really good on Excel, but really bad with people.


“Oh, that’s Ron over there.  He’s a real numbers guy, so we rely on him for almost everything.  His cut?  Well…it’s not like he’s bringing in business, so….”


Old And Cold Money

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(1).  A client account you’re thinking of going after that’s been with one bank for years and years.  And why shouldn’t you give it try?!  I mean, who’s better than you, right?!  Their current guy probably doesn’t even call them once a quarter to tell them what’s going on with Russian commodity prices!  And how about that new exchange fund you’re offering?  Wouldn’t they want to know about that?!  Of course they would!!  Now, get over to that phone and get that old coot on the line!  You are a bright, shining star!


“So, given our lackluster numbers so far this year, I’ve been thinking that a new strategy is called for.  Instead of young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs, we’re going to hunt for some old and cold money!  Now, I want everyone to hit the nursing homes and university clubs and bring in those Vanderbilts!”



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(1).  To open accounts for a new client, usually involving long, unexplained delays, endless, intrusive paperwork and little to no satisfaction once complete.


“Yeah, so we’re looking to onboard the Hanson accounts sometime next week.  Just need them to provide blood and hair samples and we should be all set.”


Open Kimono

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(1).  A term used to describe full transparency on a deal or issue (i.e. opening the kimono to see what’s underneath).


“Okay guys, we’re going to have to be open kimono on this deal.”


Props to John M. for the submission.



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(1).  Something you’d like all of your KPIs to be.


“Hmmm … is there any way we can eliminate that line-item marked “fees”?  I just don’t think it’ll be optically-pleasing to the client given our performance is down about six percent from last year.”



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(1).  Work done for a client that has no purpose other than to make it look like you are doing work for the client (see add value).


“Let’s suggest a few changes to the portfolio at tomorrow’s meeting.  I know we don’t need to, but these things are all about optics, right?”


Pain Point

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(1).  A word consultants and IT guys use to identify systems or processes that decrease worker productivity, in an attempt to develop better methods (also known as efficiencies).


“So, tell me Andy, would you consider the company’s onboarding process one of your pain points?  You mentioned in your questionnaire that it takes two weeks and involves seven different levels of approval….hmm…let’s just mark that down as a ‘yes’.”



Real Life Lingo


It’s always tough to hear when someone has a pain point about something, because you know it’s never just about that one thing.  I was once in a meeting with a local nursery where everything we said and everything we recommended was one of this guy’s pain points.  “We really need to update your meta descriptions, they are currently all blank except for the homepage that simply reads, “HOME OF THE BUSH KING”, and we really don’t think you are sending the right message here.”  What does this guy say to me?  “Nope, can’t do it, updating code is one of our pain points here.”


Godspeed Bush King, Godspeed.



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(1).  A broker/advisor in the securities industry who runs his business in an amateur fashion.


“It’s 10:30 and Bill still isn’t in the office…what a piker!”


Props to Mark R. for the submission.


Pillow Test

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(1).  A check to make sure the action you are recommending will help your client sleep better at night.


“The important thing to ask yourself, Mrs. Gilchrist, is whether putting your entire retirement savings into shares of Facebook is going to pass the pillow test.  Given the commissions I would make on the trade, I would say ‘yes’.”


Post-Implementation Review Process

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(1).  A really, really complicated way to say slamming the barn door after the horse is gone.


“Alright, now that we’ve converted to the new accounting system, we need to go through our post-implementation review process to make sure it’s going to work.  Somehow, I feel we should have asked more questions up front…oh well, too late now!”


Props to A3 for the submission.



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(1). A salesperson, broker or other agent who generates revenue for a firm.


(2). Yet another way for a salesperson, broker or agent to avoid referring to themselves as a salesperson, broker or agent.



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(1).  A way to refer to a company’s sales force as a collective group without actually using the word “sales”.


(2).  An operations term referring to a document or application that is being prepared for release.


“For a change of pace, this year the company is going to focus its hiring and compensation in the production area of the business.”


Profit Center

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(1).  That department where the people who make all the money work.  Click here for your department.


“So, are we a profit center or not?  The last five accounts you guys brought in were priced so low, we’re basically paying them!  No, go out there and get some clients who pay us!”



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(1).  n.  A potential client which is currently being courted by a salesperson.  Prospects are generally treated as the most important person in the world during the marketing phase of the relationship.  However, once the prospect becomes an actual client, they will receive the same half-interested, annual-meetings-level of service as any of the salesperson’s other clients.


“I’ve got this huge prospect I’m working on right now, Jeff.  I don’t want to count chickens, but I’m feeling Bentley right now!”


(2).  v.  A gold-mining inspired term meaning to seek out new clients, either through direct marketing (i.e. cold calling) or networking (i.e. volunteering for a charity in hopes of meeting new clients).  As with gold mining, prospecting often leads to several dead ends, fool’s gold deposits (i.e. clients who lie about their net worth) and occasionally, a gem.


“Sup, Lo-Dawg.  I’m gonna need a couple hits for tonight.  Going out prospecting at the clubs, yo!”


Put On Fee

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(1). In finance, to invest newly-received client assets in products offered by the firm.  The term is usually uttered by anxious stockbrokers (many of whom have already put down money on a pool or new car) when discussing, internally, clients who are reluctant to approve their investment recommendations.


Quick and Dirty

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(1).  A rough calculation or estimate.


“Hey, Joel…I’ve got a meeting in twenty.  Can you get me the average annual fees on the Johnson account since inception.  Just give me the quick and dirty.”


Props to Mark R. for the submission.


(2).  An excuse to do sloppy work on grounds that the work product will only be used once or temporarily, when in fact it will immediately become a fundamental piece of the organization’s infrastructure.


“Yeah, I could’ve stayed all night working on this thing, but since they’re only going to use it for talking points, I just did the quick and dirty.”


Props to Mike S. for the submission.


Rob Peter To Pay Paul

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(1). A biblically-inspired phrase describing an action which will result in a net benefit of zero, often used in finance to dissuade clients from making unnecessary investment changes.


Scope Creep

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(1).  The slow, silent expansion of responsibilities by an operations department or, worse, an outsourced service provider.  Scope Creep is usually only discovered after you receive an outsized bill or you realize that your job has somehow been centralized in a foreign country.


“Aren’t we a little concerned about scope creep here, Mike?  Remember what happened when we centralized our client service reps a few years ago – all of sudden we had 200 guys in Bangalore calling themselves ‘Steve from Dallas’!”


Scrape Them Off Your Shoes

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(1).  To completely forget/disregard the people who helped you advance in your career.


“Well, after John made partner, he basically scraped us off his shoes and never looked back.  So, no…I don’t think sending him your resume is worth it.”


Props to Tim P. for the submission.


Sense of Urgency

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(1).  A term generally used when providing negative feedback intended to imply that a particular empolyee is lazy or takes an inordinate amount of time to complete tasks.  Over-caffeinated junior stockbrokers often use the term to describe the pace of action by other, non-commission-based areas of the firm (e.g. operations), implying that only they are truly providing adequate service to their clients (when, in actuality, all they really care about is getting paid faster).


“Hi Jim, it’s Pierce.  Hope you’re doing well.  Just wanted to check in on the hold-up with the Altman account.  You know this is a really important client to the firm and I just don’t think you’re showing the same sense of urgency we are about getting this account open.  Now, I understand today is Christmas, but…”


Share of Wallet

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(1).  In finance, a term used to describe client assets currently managed by the firm.  Usually used during sales staff meetings to encourage employees to get their existing clients to increase the size of their relationship with the firm, often through cross-pollination.


Sharks in the Water

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(1).  The other brokers out there trying to woo your clients away from you.


“Look, Mike…we need to be picture perfect on this transaction.  There are sharks in the water circling around this client and I want to make sure we don’t give them an excuse to jump ship.”


Sharpen Our Pencils

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(1).  To refine an analysis or proposal after a client tells you to try again.  The term is typically heard during an embarrassing tap dance after the materials your new analyst prepared for the meeting ended up being a total mess.  Next time, you might want to take a peek at the book before you walk into the the meeting, champ.


“I hear what you’re saying, Peter, and we’ll go back after we break up here, sharpen our pencils and get those new estimates to you ASAP … in the meantime, any updates on our last three invoices?  Just checking…”


Soft Issues

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(1). In finance, a term used to describe non-financial client  services (e.g. Advising on family matters, concierge services, etc.) most of which are provided generally without compensation.


Squishy Number

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(1).  A dollar amount that just may be subject to considerable interpretation.


“Yeah…I know he said he was worth a billion dollars, but I think that’s a bit of a squishy number.  We might want to make that ‘b’ an ‘m’.”


Student of the Industry

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(1).  What your boss with the B.A. in Sociology tells people when asked where he went to B-School.


“Well, I consider myself a student of the industry.  Why, I remember when we were still making cold calls on a rotary phone!  So, you said your dad’s a CFO of something or other?  Would love to meet him sometime!”


Style Drift

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(1).  When an investment manager veers slowly away from the type of investments he’s supposed to be making.  Usual result is affectionately referred to as “turnover”.


“Well, Mike, I think it’s safe to say you guys have experienced a little style drift lately.  Buying California municipal bonds in a Turkish equity strategy is just not really what we were looking for.”


Take A Victory Lap

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(1). In finance, to sell investments that have appreciated quickly in an attempt to lock in profits.  The phrase is used by financial advisors when speaking with clients to provide them with a sense of accomplishment that will; 1 lead to their approval, and 2  allow the advisor to gloss over the poor performance of other investments in the portfolio.


Teaming Table

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(1).  A coffee table-like object in the hallway where people trapped at pods can eat their lunch or store their unread trade journals and half-eaten office birthday party cake.


“Hey, Jim.  Do you have a few minutes?  I have some papers laid out on the teaming table I’d like you to take a look at.  Let’s team up!”


Tempest In A Teapot

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(1).  Something completely overblown that’s really not a big deal at all.


(2).  Something Jamie Dimon really wishes he never said.


“Now Legal wants to get involved with this?  That’s ridiculous!  This is just a tempest in a teapot.  So what if we lost millions of client dollars by betting it all on the pass line!  That’s why they call it gambl…investing, isn’t it?!”


Thought Leader

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(1).  A corporate shill who incessantly spouts the company line and is always sickeningly positive about everything.  He will be your boss within eighteen months.


“Just look at Paul over there!  He’s a real thought leader here at the firm.  Always looking for ways to find efficiencies and cost-cutting solutions.  Come to think of it, almost all of his solutions involve consolidating roles…in him…hmmm…”


Top Notch

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(1).  How your sales guys describe the way you service your clients.  Of course, they don’t know about your “Clients Are All Morons” blog.


“I’d like to introduce you to Alex, your new account officer.  I know Alex will provide you with the top notch service you’ve come to expect from us.”


Trust Officer

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(1).  A bank employee who’s not exactly a lawyer, but not exactly a broker.  He receives no commission for bringing in new business and often is required to say “no” to his clients for seemingly mundane requests.  He … oh, who cares?  Just think Jane Hathaway from The Beverly Hillbillies and you’ve got the idea.


“So, Eugene … you’re a trust officer … okay, so what exactly does a trust officer do … ?  Hmm … I’m not sure those skills translate to anything we are looking for right now.  Thanks for coming by, though, I’m sure you’re a valued part of the team over there at [insert bank name].”


Happy 500th term,!


Turbo Charge

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(1).  Term used to sell a super-expensive yet totally useless idea to a client.


“We’re gonna turbo charge your pet food campaign by live-casting happy marmots dancing on the moon on your custom YouTube channel!  You know…the Internet loves funny animals nowadays….”


Props to Laurent P. for the submission.


Two Guys And A Dog

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(1). Used to refer to a sales team with insufficient resources or seniority.  Often used in a self-deprecating way to refer to one’s own efforts to land new clients, while at the same time having the alternative meaning of the sales leader overcoming the insufficiencies of his organization and persisting to win new clients.


“We just completed the European tour.  It’s tough man, just two guys and a dog.  But we did have good traction with a couple key accounts.”


Props to Adam T. for the submission!