Arbitary Obsessionist's Blog : Ambition is redundant. In life, mission is everything.

Extinction of Homo Economicus – Temporary or Permanent?

with 6 comments

Agents, Brokers, Middlemen…

Remember them??

I bet you do. We can very easily forget those who do something good for us without expecting anything in return. But to forget those, who take money for getting things done for us, is impossible. Now let me ask you something more. Do you remember all those people who did something good for you out of no reason whatsoever, in the last 1 month? And now, try remembering those who tried to extract monetary benefit out of you just like we squeeze a lemon, just like we use a doormat. You will be more prompt in recalling the latter of the two. It’s natural…and it’s not your fault. We all remember more of negativities than positives. We are genetically built that way.

So why am I taking up this issue? Why am I talking about brokers? The reason is my interaction with a CEO of a small brokerage firm in Gujarat, whom I met by chance (I will share more stuff from that interaction in some other post). After I met him and discussed his profession, I got confused. Confused about this whole setup. The age old setup of brokering. I am confused about the future of brokers, the future of agents. I ask about the future because their past was glorious. They have been instrumental in creating history. Or as they say – history is what winners of the wars want. I would prefer it as – history is what the brokers want.

But things are changing. And changing fast. The present is not at all sunny…and I am not saying this because of the ongoing recession.

So what is the basic idea of brokers or agents? To make money, no matter what. Make it from both sides. Take it from the buyer as well as from the seller. But there is a very serious inherent problem with this profession and it is that there is no security for any broker, no matter how big or powerful he is. Anyone can walk into the scene and offer faster, cheaper and more efficient services. And that anyone can just be anyone. And when in the last line in the paragraph before this, I said that ‘I am not saying this because of the ongoing recession’, I meant technology. That anyone can be technology.

Just observe your surroundings…

Most of the travel agents are gone.

Most of the stock brokers are useless these days (though for reasons far bigger than technology).

The airlines don’t want to pay travel agents, because the travel agents were making more money on each flight than they were.

Most of the house sellers hesitate to pay real estate brokers because they feel that known evil is much better than the unknown one.

Traders have comprehensively abandoned full services stock brokers because trading stocks directly is faster and more accurate than taking the older route of calling your broker on phone.

Now days, anyone willing to put in the required effort can do anything with the help of technology instead of paying someone else. (I may be generalizing too much here, but that is my whole idea – I want to talk about the larger pattern of degrowth of brokerism.)

What I feel is that agents are ‘more’ worthless now than they ever were.

They just help you find and get what you want. Just like Google. You ask Google about what you are looking for and Google almost always delivers. Same is for brokers. So if a day comes when something like a Google Killer ‘App’ comes along, won’t you ditch Google for it?

I bet you will…you did the same to Altavista too!!

(I hope you all remember Altavista? 😉 One of the earliest search engines)


So will this species called Homo Economicus survive the present and move towards a glorious future?

I have some serious doubts regarding that.


Written by Dev

March 20, 2009 at 11:26 am

6 Responses

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  1. Interesting post. Seth Godin wrote a post on a similar issue recently, and his take is that middlemen can make themselves valuable again ONLY if they can move with the times. For instance, the travel agents that have survived are the ones who are paid by the traveler and not the airlines.

    His post:


    March 21, 2009 at 11:33 pm

  2. nice post like it
    how much we make progress there will be middlemen always. but they will keep changing faces and names.

    most imp is about the middlemen between bride and groom what is your opinion
    like your article


    March 22, 2009 at 1:15 am

  3. Its basic human tendency to dump the existing for something better. That is how we “progress”.


    March 22, 2009 at 3:16 am

  4. Diminishing Marginal Utility 🙂

    Chirag Chamoli

    March 23, 2009 at 3:39 pm

  5. Everyone move with times. They change characters. We are not ditching things just the covers keep changing. Homo Economicus will change too..may be grow some more cells and make some things vestigial.


    March 25, 2009 at 8:43 am

  6. I follow your blog for quite a long time and should tell you that your articles always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

    Ex Girlfiend

    April 9, 2009 at 4:34 pm

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