Winner takes all: The marketing of Wall Street

The Reformed Broker details his experiences competing for clients against the big guns like Fidelity, battling against marketing campaigns which over the years helped elevate such name-brand firms onto an "exalted plane of existence."

  • close
    A sign is seen on Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange in this June 2012 file photo. Fidelity Investments and other brand-name firms have worked hard to corner the layman's investment market.
    Eric Thayer/Reuters
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

I was on the phone with a prospective client yesterday who had called us after visiting with their local Fidelity branch.  They walked in for a consultation and the "advisor" there shoved a variable annuity brochure into their laps within 30 minutes. "You go to a firm like Fidelity because you figure, hey, it's Fidelity," the guy says to me.  "How could anything go wrong, they're everywhere!"

I know exactly what he means, and I explain to him that it's really a triumph of marketing more than anything else that's elevated these name-brand firms onto an exalted plane of existence.  I wrote a whole chapter in my book, Backstage Wall Street, about the advertising and marketing tactics The Street uses to perpetuate the notion that they are anything special.  The Globe & Mail published an excerpt from it this weekend...

Look at the way most firms market themselves. The colors, themes, and stock images are always the same. Greens and browns in some cases – the rich and earthy colors that bring a bread-winning male back to his boyhood days in the forests and streams of his youth.

Reds, whites, and blues – evocative of patriotism and freedom. White backgrounds denoting simplicity, gold and silver trim alerting you to the fact that inside this brochure lie treasures and a wealth of important knowledge.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on


We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.