Big Brother Wants to Help You Invest Your Money

big data hyper targeting Feb 01, 2021

Imagine that you just sold your family business for $22MM. You’ve slaved away for 35 years, leveraged your house a few times to survive, but now at 62, you finally found a buyer.

You’re at your local bank when the wire hits your account. It’s $22,000,000! It doesn’t seem real. Hard to absorb.

Thirty seconds after you see the number in your bank account on your computer screen, your smartphone rings.

It’s Goldman Sachs.

The salesperson, a wealth advisor, says he would love to invest your millions for you. You say no and that you can’t talk right now. A minute later, your phone rings again. This time it’s Morgan Stanley. The salesperson says she’d really love to meet you soon. She has the perfect portfolio for you that will free you from worry and help you live the life you’ve always wanted. Creepy?

Kind of. But it’s a true story that a friend who works in wealth management recently told me.

Clueless College Admissions

You have a 17-year-old son who is a math whiz. Scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of the SAT. His total SAT score is in the 98 percentile. He wants to be an actuary.

You’d think that the elite schools would know everything about the kid, including his shoe size and whether he has started to drink coffee.

And yet …

Last week he attended a college fair. It was a menagerie of students and parents and perky, consultative college admissions staffers. The lines were long, especially the one for Northwestern University, which was almost a hundred students deep. He decided not to stand in line for an hour only to have a college admissions staff person ask the same questions that every other booth monkey asked that day. No personalization. None.

Worse, at home he receives the predictable deluge of generic direct mail. His mom told me he doesn’t know what mail is. Only his father opens the avalanche of letters, brochures, and catalogs.

It’s crazy that in this world of big data, unlimited apps, and hyper-targeted marketing, an elite high school student would be so generically targeted.

Maybe that’s a good thing.


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