04 January 2020

The Stock Broker's Problem

"New information makes new and fresh ideas possible."
-Zig Ziglar
Not just stock brokers, but all agents of information.

Information scarcity is disappearing.

Forty years ago traders and investors got most of their information from information agents known as stock brokers. It was hard to know what a company’s reported earnings were to say nothing of what the company was saying about its prospects between earnings reports. Stock brokers also provided companies with critical information from traders and investors and their feelings about a given company’s stock.

Other information agents have a similar problem.

Forty years ago, airline passengers had no idea which airline flew where and when they were scheduled to fly. Airlines also had no easy way to find out who wanted to fly somewhere.

Today, of course, there’s a deluge of stock market and travel information and no shortage of ability to connect… to say nothing of Reg FD. So paying a commission to a human to provide that company information to the trader or company or an airline paying 10% of revenue to a human who will use a terminal instead of the passenger using a computer [phone] hardly makes sense for the airline.

Movie studios once had to wrestle with information scarcity, and so did talented creators. Actors weren’t sure who was making what, and studios had imperfect information about whom to cast. Enter agents who controlled the information flow in Hollywood.

Today, IMDB (and proprietary tools) surface enormous amounts of information for the studios. They know who’s working on what, who’s a pain in the neck, who can add to the effectiveness of a project. And the creators are part of networks, formal and informal, that get them information faster and more directly than a single human ever could.

The same thing is happening to car dealers. In fact, just about any job where hoarding information was standard operating procedure then charging a fee is now in danger.

When your clients and customers know as much as or more than you do, it’s difficult to be an old-fashioned agent who makes money based on information scarcity.

There are 2 alternatives for purveyors of information… become a network hub who creates value through information abundance… become an information curator who sifts through information and delivers the best data to customers for a fee…

Or, take my approach and become an information user (vs agent) as a principal profiting from effective use of selective information and data. You simultaneously remove yourself from the interminable race to gather and deliver all available information and become much more focused on profiting from select slivers of information.

A lot simpler.

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