Are you against bullying? Would you stand against the sort of bullying that has claimed the life of Rehtaeh Parsons age 17. If you answer by the positive, then I would call you a hypocrite. I would dare call you a liar. I would also comment on your lack of honesty and courage. I would do this because we in the financial industry have accepted bullying as a way of doing business. We in the financial industry have been unwilling to clean our own backyard from this scourge. We in the financial industry are a poor example to the kids that are victims of bullying or for those kids that are fighting to end bullying. We in the financial industry know better but choose to ignore the worst.
Are you wandering what I am talking about? Well I am talking about a business practice that most of us have witnessed. We know this business practice is wrong but we look the other way. It is time that independent advisors send the message that they will be idle no more by denouncing this bullying practice. I am talking about the practice of destroying the life of advisors that are captive and who have decided to become independent. As soon as these advisors decide to become independent, they are attacked. Lies are told about them. False accusations are made. Harassment is continual. They are robbed of their reputation and of their right to make a living. It is wrong and it has to cease.
Yes I am mad. I am in a rage after reading a Court account of a civil lawsuit Kosko c. Bijmine 500-17-015325-031 where we see the professional life of Mr. Kosko entirely destroyed just because he wanted to be an independent advisor. In the Court decision we learn that Mr. Kosko started to work as a captive agent for Desjardins Insurance in 1988. His director is a man named Gilles Verreault. In 1990, he becomes assistant director of the Brossard branch in Quebec. In 1993, he becomes responsible for the recruitment and training of advisors. He then decides to go on his own and to become independent by creating his own firm Services Financiers Jacob Inc. During four month his business is going well and then his life turned into a nightmare.
Kosko learns from one client that Gilles Verreault his old director had been telling lies about him stating that the insurance policy he had sold to her son was not valid; that Kosko was a thief and fraudster; that he is building a file and case against Kosko to ensure his license is cancelled. These threats, lies and attacks take a toll on Kosko and his business starts to suffer. He quits losing the will to continue. When you get bullied you lose your self esteem and its starts affecting the people around you such as your family and his relation with his wife and children starts to suffer.
First let’s be clear on Gilles Verreault. The Superior Court of Quebec when referring to the statements made by Gilles Verreault qualified his accusations as untruthful and injurious. These accusations were not true so what happened to Kosko was not because of guilt because he had done something wrong. This was because he was the victim of bullying.
But the bullying did not stop there. To protect Gilles Verreault, Desjardins took over the bullying. In 1994, Kosko is looking for employment and applies for a position at SFL for a director position. The interview goes well until SFL requests an employment report from Equifax. In this report, Desjardins destroys the reputation of Kosko to such an extent that he is unemployable. Kosko requests that Equifax withdraw these lies but Equifax know who pays the bill and refuses to listen to any of the objections of Kosko.
Again and again he tries to get a job but this Equifax report always resurfaces and he never get a chance to get a job until 1995 when he becomes employed at Prudential to start a branch. He tries to legally revolve his problems and he then enters a new world of bullying which is the legal bullying where the strong and the rich are mighty before the judges and where the weak must cower.
First kosko’s lawyer is negligent as per the conclusions of the Court. Also the Court finds that the loss of confidence by Kosko is due to his lack of skill as an insurance agent. Starting in the insurance business from scratch (with 0 clients) is the hardest thing to do in life. Each rejection is a blow to your bottom line and to your confidence. I know this because I have done it. It is pure survival. When you add to this mixture someone who is trying to destroy you by ruining your career and trying to have your license revoked, it is just enough to give you the wrong nudge on the wrong side of confidence. So I don’t agree with the judge. Kosko never had a chance.
In the end Desjardins and Equifax paid $40,000 to Kosko for damages.
The story of Kosko is not unique in the financial industry. I have personally witnessed such stories and I know you have also. Is it time that this ends? Is it time for independent advisors to stand for what they believe? By our example, the financial industry is sending the message to the kids that bullying can never be ended and that the best they can achieve is to delay it by removing from school but after this it is an acceptable business and employment practice. If we let this happen, then yes we are cowards; yes we are hypocritical and we are examples not to follow.