Too often just not putting the customer first. Thai culture observations.

PaulRen's picture

In fact, a cultural norm handicap it appears.  Many good things are here, but this one needs change. Will the majority ever get it? Not while I've been here.

Many many years ago in 1989, when I first moved to Thailand, I met a mid aged nice common Thai Man with a fishing rod. He did some work on my new house and I asked him one day to go along fishing.  We drove to a beautiful spot on some rocks and well, fished.  Some 2-3 hours later I looked at him and said “nothing’s biting” -he just smiled.  Another hour later of the same, I noticed again and he replied “oh, you want to actually catch fish” bewildered I said “yes”, of course. It seemed not to occur to him that I wanted to truly catch fish, not just go fishing in a nice spot.  Maybe he thoughts we just wanted to bathe our worms?

So often we hear something around similar themes.  Consider, another around this theme, ah...the many property agents here.  A rent seeking foreigner tells them what they are looking for (say 3 bed, with big balcony), only to be taken to places which has neither -or only 1 of the sought requirements.  When the renter-client complains, he/she says oh sorry but it’s my good friend the owner.  Or inversely, a property owner insists on “no pets”, only to be brought over people with a pet. Later saying well, but “they are such nice people and pet”.  This is not a funny story, this is a common story.

A tourist calls a hotel insisting on a room with a full bath. “Yes, we have” the answer comes back. When the guest arrives, the bathtub does not work, the reception “sorry -but it used to….but the room is very nice”. I can go on, but you get the drift.

Over the years I often noticed how Thai brokers want all to just “trade”, but few recognize many want to invest for investor returns over time and most are not traders, nor have the time for that.   When I tell some Thai’s, but not often, I invest in the Thai stock market, they almost always say, “oh you like to play the market”.  I answer no I professionally invest in a responsible way, they are baffled as they never heard that before.  Similar to the fishing story many believe it’s a form of playing -with losing money being the norm or OK. Thinking its exciting while it lasts and then Mai Pen Rai.   Like a “revolving door”: some Thais get in some new money, “play the market”, loose in time due to poor strategy and then move on, sour.  Seen this, done that...never again. Thailand so has a very, very low stock market investor/savings penetration.  It just seems not to occur to these that one actually wants to catch fish -or make decent investor returns.  I.e. they just don't get it: "its about the customer, stupid". 

For years I told various MD’s of several brokerage firms: this is not the way to build a good brokerage business over time.  The answer back is always around same: yes, “but Thai culture different”.  I guess what they mean is to make commission money, but so not important what client needs? On that is seems who cares.

In fact, this is a cultural norm it appears. There are many good things in Thailand, but this is not one of them. I will in time write more about this.   It’s a combination of oddity along with often just not putting the customer first.  Employees here are mostly super-employer loyal and don’t have this disposition of putting the customer first.  Of course here I am generalizing, but it’s too often a fact.  The employer hides behind the scenes while the lame duck employee just says “Sorry”.  Some have complained in message boards on such abuses or worse, but then got in legal trouble with lawyers writing them strong letters or worse, accusing them of libel defamation.  The English Thai press rarely reports about this, but the Thai language press does at times.  Beware: I can take you for a dishonest ride but if you complain I will claim defamation. 

Its been long, long documented (big 30 year+ studies, with thousands of people on mega thousands of trades in the US) that novice investors which trade or day-trade stock markets over time lose money. There are many reasons for this…the principal one is one ends up selling out ones’ winners, while holding on losers.  In time one holds a portfolio of lagers. Time goes on and then bail-out with a grudge claiming the stock market is all BS, or manipulated. When in fact it was their strategy which failed, along with the broker/marketing officer which did not steer them right.  Just like drugs which can be life saving can also be life threatening, all depend on how used.  In my long view brokers just do not put the customer/investor first, often advocating a new idea just when it price surged or indirectly promote over trading. Its all about them making commissions, not generating investor returns.  This is the sad reality.   Not long ago an MD of a major security firm told me “new IPO’s are about speculating the first few days, after which then nobody cares if the new listed stock sags months later”.  Think about this, it means the IPO underwriter can get away overpricing new IPO’s for big fees. This shows/confirms a fundamental misunderstanding/abuse in the securities’ industry which translates into the veins the of the Thai brokerage industry.  As written elsewhere here there is no IPO performance follow-up along whom was the underwriter, say 3, 6, 12 months later.  So it all gets pushed under the carpet and never reported with the SET acclaiming how new IPO volume here is a success.

Here today I am just reflecting on my long experience & viewpoints based on facts.  BTW, happy to notice AUCT (10.30),  1 out of my 3 core choices) I strongly viewed 10% ago, flirting incl.. dividends at a new 2022 yearly high, even while just about no Thai broker recommended it.  AIT, AUCT, TOG and SMD  are core choices of mine. 

Best Regards from recovering,

Paul A. Renaud.