On the Ending of Corporate Titles for Agents and Brokers
Late last month, the New York Department of State issued an interesting opinion that effectively ended the practice of brokerages giving corporate titles such as "Executive Vice President" and "Managing Director" to their licensees. It was a practice mainly done in Manhattan (and we did name a VP once in full disclosure), and became so prevalent that it almost lost its meaning; you'd walk into an office of 100 agents, and 50 would be vice presidents. From the letter:
If an agent advertises falsely that he or she holds a corporate title, it would be considered “dishonest” and
“misleading” because doing so would lead the public to believe that the brokerage entity has appointed
or elected the agent as an officer or to a comparable management position.
I can see how a consumer might be mislead by thinking that if they were working with a Vice President that they were working with an actual executive of the firm on a salary when in fact they were just a licensed salesperson with a 1099 independent contractor agreement.
I think most people know that a lady blowing up a balloon for an open house and or a guy crouching down to show a sink's drain trap is not an actual member of the company's managing board or possessed voting stock. It just became over done- it seemed like every 3rd licensee I ever dealt with in Manhattan was some sort of Vice President.
In my experience in sales in two industries, "Vice President" has always been more of a rank of management. And I have walked into many bank branches and dealt with a head teller on a paltry salary with "Vice President" on their card. I never believed for a second that guy in the bank sat on the actual board of the bank. If they didn't, what were they doing counting my jar of quarters for? But my opinion doesn't matter. We have to abide by what the DOS (Department of State) thinks, and the titles are all gone.
So what now? Does an industry that specializes in marketing and self promotion just embrace boring? Or will we see more creativity in titles, just of a non-corporate nature? I don't doubt for a second that creative titles will embellish Licensed Salesperson and Associate Broker on business cards very soon. Ironically, as founder and owner of my firm I never used the title "President," although I could. I could start to, just to press my new advantage, but I know my colleagues will get competitive in the title department somehow in the very near future.
A few suggestions:
I even created a proposed card with a another idea or two. Think I should order 500?
- Czar (or Tsar)