A truth known to every trader in the London market has been belatedly apprehended by the European Union: a lot of traders live in the English county of Essex. Especially if they work in the FX markets.
The European Commission has today fined five banks (Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, JPMorgan and MUFG) a combined €1.07bn ($1.02bn) for participating in two cartels in the FX market. One of the two was strongly linked to Essex.
Called the, “Forex- Essex Express," it involved participants from Barclays, RBS and MUFG. The EU says the traders liaised in a chat room called, "Essex Express ‘n the Jimmy," because all the traders but for one named James lived in Essex and also met on the train to London. They also hung out in a chatroom called, "Semi Grumpy Old men.”
FX traders' prevalence in Essex is confirmed by LinkedIn, which lists 1,818 people claiming to be FX traders in the county in total, of whom around 600 are in Chelmsford, around 400 are in Southend, around 160 are in Colchester and around 120 are in Ilchester.
One former FX trader-turned headhunter says the love of Essex dates back to the late 20th century when banks weren't trading FX electronically and didn't need FX traders with advanced academic qualifications. "Essex had a plentiful supply of entrepreneurial people who came into Liverpool Street Station," he says.
That still seems to be the case. FX traders still love Essex. The networking opportunities are clearly huge. By comparison, only 1,150 FX traders on LinkedIn are listed as living in Surrey (there are 300 in Guildford) and only 650 are in Hampshire.
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