The Last Chop Shops

The broker, nicknamed “The Platypus” for his splay-footed waddle and untucked shirts, turned to take a long look at a blonde woman walking by.

By my reckoning, there are probably less than 20,000 registered reps still trying to carry the Belfort Banner into the second decade of the 21st Century and sell stocks over the phone.

But those who are still left simply will not go down quietly (or with dignity).

Here’s Zeke Faux writing at Bloomberg about the denizens of one of the few remaining Chop Shop hotels left:

There are at least 15 chop shops, as brokers call them, within a few blocks of the New York Stock Exchange…Three brokerages that use cold-calling are at 40 Wall St., the 72-story skyscraper built in the 1920s for the Manhattan Company, a predecessor of JPMorgan Chase & Co. founded by Aaron Burr, the third vice president of the U.S. The tower, now called the Trump Building, also houses two securities firms that are under investigation.

There’s nothing illegal about cold-calling, and all the chop shops employ at least some brokers with clean records. The boiler-room operators of the 1990s mostly got into trouble for having their brokers unload penny stocks they secretly owned on unsuspecting investors. The schemes were so profitable that organizers could afford to pay 20 percent commissions.

I called this strange subculture within the industry “Blue Collar Wall Street” in my book, Backstage Wall Street. These brokers have virtually nothing to do with the actual Wall Street, in much the same way that Jordan Belfort’s old Stratton Oakmont firm was completely and utterly isolated from it – both geographically and culturally.

Faux’s article tells the tragic and hilarious stories of the last Chop Shops, of the retail brokers who are still hanging on, despite the reality that there are almost zero customers left for their “services” anymore.

Wall Street Attracts Chop Shops 20 Years After ‘Wolf’ (Bloomberg)

The book:

Backstage Wall Street: An Insider’s Guide to Knowing Who to Trust, Who to Run From, and How to Maximize Your Investments

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