Lies, Wall Street, and the Media

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It is always the best policy to speak the truth–unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.
– Jerome K. Jerome

New York – How do you know when someone is lying to you?  Most people have a hard time telling, but there are a few people who have made an entire profession out of the answer.  A recent article in the Guardian highlights how some of these professionals have been using their unique talents to aid Wall Street firms in their daily grind.

The article describes Business Intelligence Advisors (BIA) and the role their consultants have played in helping Wall Street to detect lies by company management during different presentations.  BIA has ties to US intelligence agencies and employs workers with background in interrogation tactics.  The company offers its clients training in detecting dishonesty and also offers consulting services in which its trained experts sit in on calls or meetings.  While it may not be possible to always tell exactly if or why a person is lying, BIA does feel that they are excellent at determining areas which are uncomfortable to talk about and thus deserve more attention.

Also highlighted in the article is a book by Eamon Javers which will hit bookshelves early next week called Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy (a nod to the classic espionage novel by John Le Carre: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).  The book claims that financial firms have hired employees who are still active in the CIA to aid them in the past.  BIA has denied that they employ active-duty CIA personnel but also admitted to doing so in the past.  They also describe the book as “misleading and inaccurate”.

Of course, BIA is not the only firm offering interrogation training services, as Integrity has a number of firms in their database which offer similar products.  Last season Fox put out a show called Lie to Me which is loosely based on the research work done by Dr. Paul Ekman.  Dr. Ekman works as a scientific consultant on the show, and no doubt draws on his extensive research into the Facial Action Coding System, which helps to identify fleeting expressions on people’s faces which betray their true emotions.  Dr. Ekman first published a manual on these expressions in 1978 and since then his work has inspired a host of other consulting firms which use the basics of his method as a way to train their clients in deception identification techniques.  It seems as if even aviation security officers have taken note of his work and started integrating it into their security protocols.

The techniques used by these professionals are not foolproof.  Critics exist for each of the different methods the companies use and the conclusions drawn by deception analysis training will never be set in stone.  Nevertheless, the fact that Wall Street puts enough stock in the abilities of these consultants to hire them, coupled with the anecdotal evidence of their success shows that there is a place in the market for their services.  Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in more insights on deception training.

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