The afternoon sun was hiding behind light clouds as Eteo started his walk. The crowds had arrived at the Ambleside seawall as they did every fine day, and Eteo had to dodge groups of pedestrians from time to time. He saw Frankie again, but he was busy on his phone and only nodded and waved with his free hand. Eteo responded in kind, but suddenly his own phone rang and he stepped to the side of the path to answer. It was Richard calling from Calgary.
“You never called me,” Richard complained.
“Sorry, I got caught up in things.”
“Never mind, I managed. We’ll see lots of buying coming early Monday morning. Two big brokers will come in. Stay on the bid and you’ll see.”
“What happened?” Eteo needed a bit more detail than that.
“Just stay on the bid,” Richard repeated, “and let them come and take the offers. Just follow the market up.”
“I’ll keep my eyes open,” Eteo replied, not very happy to be fobbed off with generalities. Afterward he speculated about the various scenarios of how these new brokers might come into the market. Richard could have offered them incentives, which meant they would go for a quick buy and sell within days, which required being vigilant to unload some shares to them before they stopped buying. They must be junior brokers with small books. Those ones are usually hungry for business and easier to persuade with “grease.” Eteo’s thoughts ran back to his first year in the business. It had been tough, but he had been lucky to get a job as a teacher at a Greek community schools for a while before becoming a broker. He had met a lot of well-to-do Hellenes who liked to invest in the stock market and so he was able to open a hundred accounts in a matter of a few days, and these had provided a basic commission income while he built up his business. As for the brokers Richard was talking about, Eteo preferred to hold his breath and see what they might do, if anything, come Monday morning.
Earning commission income was a cutthroat scenario at the best of times. Everyone had to devise his or her own approach in order to stay sane while trying to select stocks that would perform better to recommend to clients. Eteo remembered how some promoters back in the eighties would walk around the streets of Vancouver with certs in street form, as they called them. The bearer could deposit these certs in his account in any brokerage firm in the blink of an eye and then proceed to sell shares in the marketplace. It was quite common in those days for a promoter to cut a deal with a group of brokers, or with one in particular, depending on the size of the broker’s book. Deals were done without any serious research into the assets of the company in question or what level of development they had reached. It was a game of who could con the other first. Would the broker con the promoter, or would it be the other way around? In either case the paramount thing was to have a way out before buying in.
Early in 1985, Eteo had met another stockbroker, an East Asian man who worked for Continental, a good firm in downtown Vancouver, and from him he had learned the meaning of the word “grease.” This broker was dealing with two brothers who were promoting a junior company that, like most others, owned a mining property of little importance but whose shares were sitting at the comfortable level of 60 cents, although in a very thin market, which meant that just a little volume would drive the price either up, if it was buying volume, or down to a few pennies if it was selling volume. That was what a thin market was all about: a market held artificially at a certain level. The two brothers wanted to finance the company to go and explore their moose pasture some more, and they were dealing with the broker regarding size of financing, price of issuance for the new shares, and other details pertaining to work commitment, how many drill holes they planned to drill, whether it would be diamond drilling or reverse circulation drilling, soil work, and other details. The funniest part came when they talked about how much grease they would pay the broker one of the two brothers extended his arm to Eteo’s ear and pretended to shut him from hearing what they would agree on. It was hilarious since Eteo had known from the start what they wanted to agree on, but he let the promoter do as he pleased, as if Eteo was an innocent new stockbroker who shouldn’t hear these kinds of details.