Magazine article American Banker

We Have Ways of Finding out Who You Are-And Are Not

Magazine article American Banker

We Have Ways of Finding out Who You Are-And Are Not

Article excerpt

I heard a story a good while back about a farmer in North Dakota being visited by a stranger who offered to buy his land for about triple what the farmer thought it was worth.

Finding this strange, the farmer declined the offer but took down the stranger's license plate. Then he checked it out with the motor vehicle people in Bismarck.

"The car belongs to Standard Oil," he was told.

Obviously, figuring that there was oil under his land, he held out for a far greater sum.

If Standard Oil had rented a car for its forays into the field to acquire land in the Williston Basin, it would have saved a fortune.

The moral: Sometimes we give away our identity when we don't want to.

In banking too we have examples of ways outsiders can determine who we are and who we aren't.

I remember being invited to talk for a giant financial institution at Marco Island, Fla.

The top officers were gathered around the pool. When I arrived, I walked in and joined them, even though I had never met any of them.

A little later I saw a tall man wearing a blue suit and thick black shoes. He was standing there looking at everything but not eating or drinking anything.

I went up to him and asked, "You are obviously a security officer protecting these people. Why did you let me join them without questioning who I was?"

"I saw your picture before I left New York," he replied.

One of my favorite stories of finding out people's identity took place at this newspaper.

The then marketing editor, Laura Gross, knew that a major thrift was for sale and that several banks were going to bid on it in a hotel room the next morning. …

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