Sunday, 16 November 2014

A Reply to Lucy Kellaway's FT article on FX Traders.

Lucy Kellaway published an article in the FT today covering the attitudes of FX traders based on the style and content of the chat room exhibits cited in the latest fix fixing investigations. There were references to her own experiences in the markets 30 years ago and the boorish testosterone behaviour then and how it applies to FX today. The article is here.

I have left a comment as I feel that many broad brush assumptions are being inexpertly applied to FX at the moment. Here it is -


Whilst I agree that the conduct shown by the miscreants is appalling and their testosterone exhibitions further undermine the poor reputation of anything 'City' I would like to make a few points.

The laddish behaviour of the '80s was endemic across society at that time and I feel that though your own experience of it was within FX, that doesn't mean it was limited to FX. This also applies to the present day. FX has had the regulatory microscope focus down to individual chat screens with every written letter now being exposed in public light. The lack of evidence of such behaviour in other areas of the City does not mean it does not exist. It just hasn't been looked for, but it's there. And of course it exists outside City activities as much as it does within. I am sure an estate agent, footballer, car mechanic (so many I'll stop there) can tell a tale or two. If every profession had their every communication examined then there would be similar horrors emerging from the earth at a rate reminiscent of Zombies Dawn of the Dead. 75 solicitors were struck off in 2012 (last figures I saw) without much comment.

I do excuse these poor souls the spelling inaccuracies you mock. They were never hired for their written communication skills beyond quoting numbers and they were writing for each other, not a public audience and certainly not at a journalistic level. If a message is understood then the time spent correcting it is superfluous, especially considering the time pressures most of them work under.

The cockney rhyming slang you quote is also not so much an indication of FX boys keeping a dying language alive but more the application of market abbreviation that first originated in the days when cockney rhyming was more a fashion. Just as the term 'Cable' isn't an indication of the continuation of language forms used when the first transatlantic cable was laid, but more a 2 syllable abbreviation of the unwieldy 24 syllable 'British pound sterling against the United States dollar using sterling as the base currency' Every profession has its nicknames and colloquialisms. FX is the same.

I suppose the saddest thing about all of this is how once again some stupidly outrageous behaviour by some has brought disrepute on the all. FX has changed hugely since you experienced it in the '80s, Lucy.
I just wish this small sample size of cretins hadn't given you the chance to use assumption based on extrapolation to imply that the behaviours that treated you so badly all those years ago are still endemic today.


Anonymous said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

As someone who was in his '20s in the '80s, I can testify to overdoing it in the "laddish behavior" department, and I had absolutely nothing to do with FX, nor did I even live in the UK ;-)


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