Limits of Professionalism

“Amateurs in any discipline are the best, if you can connect with them. Unlike dilettantes, career professionals are to knowledge what prostitutes are to love.” Nassim Taleb


When I first joined a now defunct investment bank as an analyst in the early 2000s, I became puzzled, in my yet uninitiated naiveté, with the idea of a structured bond. Common sense and a lack of experience – qualities that allow one to analyze a new concept from an unobstructed and unbiased 10,000-foot view – signaled to me that the risk in such a bond was not eliminated, no matter the fancy structure. “It’s spread out,” – someone, a professional, told me, and I did not pursue my inquiry further, as you don’t really have time to ponder things on the trading desk. Pretty soon I, too, became a professional and fell into that trap of thinking I knew more than those doubting philistines. My specialization became a great excuse to dismiss the pesky, pedestrian questions of the know-nothings.

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