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The art of bro-dom banter on the trading floor

Aside from, well, the actual news, one of the more interesting things to emerge of the series of financial scandals is that, even now, trading floor banter remains a cross between a frat house and a rugby team.

For an industry that prides itself on rolling out ever more guffy corporate speak (think HSBC ‘demising’ jobs, rather than firing people), the number of ‘dudes’ and ‘mans’ to emerge in recorded communications illustrates that you need also need to maintain a cliquey school-boy mentality.

Bruno Iksil allegedly pointed out to Javier Martin-Artajo that a $40m recorded loss in the portfolio could grow to $880m, he responded with: “This is just what we explain tomorrow. You don’t need to explain that in an email, man.” In other words: “Why you gotta be such a snitch, dude?”.

Similarly, aside from the now infamous “Bollinger and Big Boy” emails that emerged during the Barclays’ Libor rate fixing investigation, one trader complained that someone in the team was submitting the “highest Libor of anybody”.

"He's like, 'I think this is where it should be'. I'm like, 'Dude, you're killing us'," said the trader.

UBS traders took the ‘bro’ buffoonery one step further, describing each other as the “the three muscateers [sic]” and “captain caos [sic]”, as well as sending emails in which they promise to “f*cking do one humongous deal with you".

Cityboy, in his admittedly dated account of life on the trading floor said it’s “quick-witted playground banter that wins friends and influences the people you work with".

In case you’re wondering if it’s still widespread, The Practical Guide to Wall Street: Equities and Derivatives (yes, an actual textbook), says: “The trading floor banter is challenging and aggressive – it is not a genteel place. The most successful traders and salespeople tend not only to be good at their jobs, but have a quick wit, personality and presence. It is a unique work environment and for those who enjoy it, the transition off the floor can be a difficult one.”

And god forbid if you don’t have an opinion on the Luis Suarez transfer saga in London. No wonder women shy away from trading careers.

AUTHORPaul Clarke
  • bl
    16 August 2013

    'For those who enjoy it, the transition off the floor can be a difficult one'.

    Take it from somebody who made that mistake, truer words were never spoken. Life on a technology floor is not only unspeakably dull, it's also whisper silent.

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