Friday, November 30, 2012

Reputations and Consistency

My personal reputation is more important to me than I ever let on and quite honestly how people perceive me has a large effect on my public behavior. As with many people my reputation varies from each social environment. For instance, I behave in a more relaxed and informal manner with my family, and friends, but even between those two situations my behavior is different. My public persona is quite different as well.

Instead of focusing on the differences, much of my reputation and behavior is actually consistent across many social situations. Generally, I am considered to be a nice guy. I am known for my intelligence, curiosity, traditional values, and my calm, cool demeanor. The "nice guy" reputation has many benefits, I have a positive relationship with everyone I know and I rarely have conflict or drama, in fact I consciously avoid it. This is my basic, public persona and it is probably the most important to me. I believe that people tend to ignore or write of small deviations from the base reputation. This helps me have some flexibility and focus on avoiding huge deviations in my behavior that negatively effect my reputation.

My reputation developed largely due to family influences. I was brought up under traditional values i.e the golden rule, but one thing that was stressed in my family was kindness. I had many examples from my family that showed me how important it is to treat people with kindness, that people respond better and are more willing to reciprocate when you are kind. So in order to keep this reputation intact I almost always behave in ways that are consistent with being a nice guy. I am always well mannered, chivalrous, and positive when I interact with people outside of my inner circle of friends and family. I always offer help, or do favors for people even when it costs me.

The down sides of being a nice guy is that there is almost always  a tiny voice in my head begging me to be a jerk. There are many times where I help people when I do not want to, or entertain people I have no business interacting with. Other times I just want to be mean, and I often joke with my friends that I am going to be more self-serving and less nice but it never happens. Also, there has never been a time that I can think of where I completely abandoned my reputation to cash-in. Although, here are times when I will take advantage of my reputation to get favors, and hide bad behaviors by manipulating "the benefit of the doubt". Also, I have found that when I do mess up, people are more forgiving and willing to work with me or help which is why I do not feel the need to cash-in by going against my reputation. My reputation is more like an investment and there are times when I collect dividends for my kindness.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Triangle trading- 2 principles, 1 agent

With this being an economics course one of my favorite examples of a principle comes from the financial sector. A stock broker or any other type of asset manager is a principle with two agents the client and the firm.
The asset manager's job is to increase profits for the firm and increase the return on investment for the client. More often than not these two goals can be accomplished together but there are specific times when the two aims will conflict. Usually when there is a conflict the goal to increase profits for the firm supersedes the needs of the client.
For example, in many brokerage firms the firm makes a profit from the volume of trades brokers are able to produce. This may lead to conflict because the client will lose money for each trade and unlike the firm there are no guarantees that there will be a return. On top of that the broker can justify his actions by claiming that he had the best interest of the client in mind. the broker would fail one agent by focusing too much on the other.
A possible resolution for this conflict is to have the same measure of performance for both principles, and bring any competing incentives inline. So, instead of the firm earning profit from trade volume and the client earning profit from returns, the client and the firm could split the returns and eliminate the fee for each trade. If the firm was only give a percentage of the clients return the goals of the brokers would simply be to increase the return on investment and there would be no conflicting incentives to favor one principle over the other.
I am confident that many brokerage firms would not be willing to have a performance scheme quite like this but there may also be other paths to resolving conflicts. The firm could set limits on trade volume to reduce risks for the clients or provide incentives to its brokers for maximizing client returns and not just trades.