Saturday, July 11, 2009



By : Mr. D. Irwin Wudditworth, M.B.A., Senior Manager, Pryor Cox Wealth Management Associates LLC (A Professional Financial Group Specializing in Estates, Trusts, Investment Instruments, Funds and Precious Metal Acquisitions for Both Banks and Individuals); Lecturer on Communication Issues in the Financial Community; Boat Enthusiast; World Traveler and Linguist.

Language is important. Without language, it would be impossible to effectively communicate with other people. Language enables us to precisely transfer information, thoughts, beliefs and emotions from our own minds to others. True, we do not always communicate with language. Sometimes, we convey our thoughts, beliefs and emotions with our bodies. But body language does not suffice for significant financial transactions. I could not, for example, use body language to say: “I offer to sell these low-bearing investment trust certificates at 5 points over prime on or before the close of business this Friday, May 24, 2010.” Only language can transfer all the information relevant to that transaction. Facial expressions, gestures, grunts, winnies, guffaws, clicks, gesticulations, guttural noises, squeaks, hand waving or even muscular spasms could never exactly inform the listener about the transaction I contemplated. Put simply, we need language to provide and receive the information necessary to do business.

But this creates new problems. Although language enables a speaker and a listener to pass information necessary to consummate mutually profitable deals with one another, the world is large. Not everyone speaks the same national tongue. For example, I cannot call a Chinese manufacturer on the telephone and say in English: “Listen up, Chu, I want 45,000 bales of unprocessed indigo sent FOB to my pier in Los Angeles by 6 PM on Monday the 14th. I’ll take care of the insurance. What’s the market price today?” If I said these words, they would sound like pure gibberish to Mr. Chu. Yet both Mr. Chu and I have the capacity to use language; we both want to profit from one another. Still, we do not speak the same language. The language barrier makes it impossible for us to consummate a financial transaction. That is a problem. Thus, it is not enough to speak just any language. To successfully engage in commerce, both the buyer and seller must speak the same language. What good is a well-written contract if no one understands what it says?

How can conscientious businessmen overcome these linguistic difficulties? True success requires clear communication and a solid financial vision. And the only way to clearly communicate is to speak in the listener’s language. Many companies try to teach people how to speak foreign languages. They say that “anyone can learn a new language” if they try hard enough. But learning foreign languages is burdensome. It takes forever to learn countless new words and idioms. Even after learning all the words, native speakers correct you and make you feel like a fool for making grammatical errors. Although it can be intellectually satisfying to learn a foreign language, it takes far too much time. It can take decades to truly learn another language. In the wealth management business, we don’t have decades to do deals; we need to do deals every month. If we wasted our time learning foreign languages, we would go out of business. Additionally, “intellectual satisfaction” is a paltry reward for the immense effort needed to learn the language. Worse, even after investing countless, unpaid hours into learning the new language, in the end you’ve only learned one language. There are hundreds of languages left on earth, each of which is a potential market. It does no good to spend a lifetime learning Italian when you need to make money in Russia. In this light, learning foreign languages—while essential to doing business abroad—is not financially practicable. Basically, it takes too long and brings in comparatively little for the effort. No matter how you slice it, language learning is a bad business proposition.

I am not ashamed to admit that I do not speak Dutch. I don’t speak Portuguese, Hindi or Chinese, either. In fact, I only speak English. This limits my linguistic ability to consummate profitable transactions with foreign speakers. But there are other ways to communicate with others beyond national language. I speak a much more universal language, a language that everyone on earth understands: Money. Everyone knows what cash is. Everyone likes bank checks and deposit certificates. Everyone likes high-yield promissory notes and bearer bonds. Money talks. And it talks very clearly. No one misunderstands money. It can negotiate better than any urbane linguist, no matter how many degrees he has on his wall. When it comes to convincing people, I don’t need to waste 20 years learning French. I don’t need to understand poetry or opera. I just need to put up some numbers.

In the Old Testament, it says that God deliberately scattered human beings by splitting them into different linguistic groups. The Bible says: “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand each other’s speech.” Genesis 11:7. I hate to disagree with God, but I do not believe that language separates us. Quite the contrary, people are more similar to each other than different. Money speaks to all people; it does not “confound” anyone. Everyone understands “wire transfer, “ “cash payment,” “draft charge” and “gold.” God may have tried to separate human beings by splitting their languages, but money has reunited us. We do not need to master grammatical subtleties to “understand” a Japanese person. We just need to know how much he wants for the goods he’s selling. I want the goods; he wants the money. He doesn’t speak English; I don’t speak Japanese. But we both understand each other. Despite God’s best efforts here, money transcends all linguistic quandaries. Put simply, money is a universal communicator. It obliterates divisions and changes minds. It convinces better than any high-flown rhetoric. It is even better than logic: People would much rather have dollars than “sense.”

I believe that everyone on earth can clearly communicate with one another. We all speak money. We all understand money. We all want money. If we all want the same thing, why should we squabble and misunderstand each other? In my experience as a wealth manager, money answers every question. Whether I’m dealing with a Belgian industrialist or an Indian baker, the question is always the same: “How much do I get?” And my question is always the same: “What’s the fee?” No matter how divergent our cultures or how varied our languages, money unifies us. There is no reason for us to fight. We both just want money. Culture, religion, national traditions and social customs do not really matter in the end. Without money to pay bills, buy food and maintain homes, there would be no culture or national tradition. People know that. That is why they all speak money. Everything else is secondary. I believe that our world can be a better place if we all just focus on the thing that unites us all: Money.

In this light, I am proud to work at a firm that promotes international understanding. In my business, I see people from all over the world smiling, laughing and singing. Why? Because they are making money. My firm does not speak their national language. It does not even really care about their traditions or their national folk heroes. It simply allows them to conclude profitable international business transactions at reasonable rates. We do not condescend to our clients. We merely show them numbers and profits. We do not need to master their languages or cultures. We talk money. And they understand us perfectly. Even the most recalcitrant Islamist smiles when we show him a productive portfolio, even if the money comes from Christian-owned enterprises. In this way, money does not transcend national and linguistic lines; it even crosses deeply-rooted religious hatreds. Money makes everyone smile, even Jihadists and African dictators. It defuses tensions. That is a beautiful thing.

God may have separated human beings by “confounding” their languages. He may have tried to breed discord and confusion among nations by interfering with our ability to communicate with one another. But God underestimated modern commerce. Today, people all over the world no longer need to understand every word they hear. They just need to know dollar amounts. Understanding is simple. It is all about cash, dividends, returns, puts, calls and sales. I am proud to work for a firm that promotes international understanding and clear communication. I speak money. No one misunderstands me. I do not offend anyone. I do not make linguistic faux pas or accidentally insult anyone. No, I just show my listeners how much cash they are making. That’s enough to transcend any language barrier. And best of all, I never had to waste any time mastering bewildering new vocabulary or grammar rules. Who has time for that when you can just talk money and everyone understands you every time?

We live in a hopeful time. We can make the world a better place if we all work together and speak money together. We all want the same things in life. At Pryor Cox Wealth Management Associates LLC, we understand what’s important. We make people happy because we communicate clearly. Language is an artificial barrier. We believe that everyone on earth can communicate with one another in peace, as long as they just talk about money. What else really matters, anyway?

Life is too short for confusion. Don’t be misunderstood. Get to the point. Talk money.

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