Cover image for License to steal : the secret world of Wall Street and the systematic plundering of the American investor
License to steal : the secret world of Wall Street and the systematic plundering of the American investor
Gilman, Scott.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperBusiness, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 277 pages ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HG4928.5 .G55 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Stockbroker to young trainee: "Remember, when clients send in that money, it's not theirs anymore. It's ours...We're never giving it back to them."

Welcome to Wall Street. The longest bull market in history has driven more people to invest in stocks than ever before--and has given rise to unprecedented levels of greed within the brokerage industry that "serves" those investors.

In License to Steal, Timothy Harper and his Anonymous coauthor have succeeded in piercing the financial industry's code of silence. In a gripping and fast-paced narrative, they show readers how successful brokers on the "Street Without Shame" peddle worthless stocks, take questionable companies public, manipulate share prices, generate bogus commissions, and raid clients' accounts for their own use.

Anonymous and Harper tell a wild, raucous, true story of outrageous acts committed by a handful of rogue brokers--as well as the off-hand, everyday deceptions that are routine in the securities business--and the high life as it is lived by the young and rich in the canyons of Wall Street.

The book recounts the rise of a young, successful stockbroker, first as a smart, eager operator willing to do whatever it takes to make it. Always keeping just within the law, he watches his colleagues in the brokerage business cross over daily into unscrupulous conduct, lining their own pockets at the expense of their clients. Unwilling to join them, unable to endure the pressure of their corrupting influence, he eventually quits Wall Street.

A mesmerizing story of personal redemption, License to Steal is also a searing indictment of a corrupt and brutalizing system and a warning to the millions of American investors who trust and rely on stockbrokers for guidance on their own investments.

Author Notes

Anonymous has been a Wall Street senior vice president and broker. His career has taken him to numerous brokerage firms both large and small.
Timothy Harper, a journalist and a lawyer is a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia University. His stories on international business appear in newspapers and magazines around the world. He is the author of eight other books.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

These days more and more investors are making their trades online. Common reasons are lower trading costs and convenience, but an unacknowledged factor may also be consumer dissatisfaction with stockbrokers. This "expose" will do nothing to restore confidence. Gilman has worked for four brokerage firms, and Harper is a journalist and the author of several business books, most recently Moscow Madness: Crime, Corruption, and One Man's Pursuit of Profit in the New Russia [BKL Mr 1 99]. Their account of outrageous financial misdeeds reads like a series of scenes from an overwrought thriller set on Wall Street. We are assured that each incident has actually occurred, but the narrator of each scenario is fictitious, a "composite character typical of many young men who came to Wall Street looking for easy money." We hear the various ways brokers cheat their clients--from aggressive, deceptive cold-call pitches for worthless securities to illegal or unethical activities such as churning, parking, and flipping. Because the authors rely on overdramatization and anonymity, there will be readers who dismiss these disturbing claims. --David Rouse

Library Journal Review

Harper, a lawyer who teaches at the Columbia University School of Journalism, teams up with several Wall Street stockbrokers to break the financial industry's code of silence. They create the fictional character Brett Buertelsohn to tell the story of how rogue stockbrokers (and their firms) bilk investors by pitching overvalued initial public offerings (IPOs), charge bogus commissions, and manipulate and mislead clientele. In a few short years, he rises from being a cold caller to vice presidentÄa rise made possible by his enthusiastic engagement in activities that, while not against the law, are certainly not in his clients' best interests. Very detailed descriptions of transactions and sales tactics bring home the meaning of the phrase caveat emptor. A well-written, easy-to-follow, suspenseful, and thought-provoking read for any investor; recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄSteven J. Mayover, Free Lib. of Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
1. Thursday Night and Friday Morningp. 8
2. Conflict of Interestp. 19
3. A Born Brokerp. 24
4. "Hello, I Can Make You Rich . . ."p. 32
5. If a Woman Answers, Hang Upp. 45
6. The Bald Shadowp. 55
7. Hidden Commissionsp. 64
8. It's Our Money Nowp. 74
9. Tony Galoshesp. 83
10. The Bond Playp. 93
11. On the Marginp. 98
12. On the Marketp. 108
13. First Bloodp. 116
14. SmallTechp. 133
15. The 50 Percent Brokerp. 143
16. New Issue Whoresp. 151
17. Alfred's Dealp. 162
18. Mr. Vice Presidentp. 172
19. The Kidp. 184
20. Wary Buyersp. 192
21. The Dirty Dozenp. 200
22. Crossing, Churning, Parkingp. 210
23. Prep Schoolp. 222
24. Graduationp. 236
25. Boutique Firmp. 247
26. The Last Dealp. 260
Epilogue: The Aftermarketp. 271