The compliance cops, it seems, are at it again. The Sunday Times has an interesting story - that staff working in City trading rooms are increasingly being banned from using their mobile telephones on the floor.
According to the newspaper, Deutsche, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley have already implemented mobile phone bans for traders, analysts and fund managers. The story goes that the firms are concerned to keep track of all work-related conversations in order to have a full record in the event of disputed trades and other claims. Forcing staff to use the proper channels (i.e office telephone and e-mail), it is thought, might also result in the prevention of, or early discovering of, wrongdoing. Heaven forbid. It is claimed that Morgan Stanley, which is becoming really 'holier than thou' these days, has even stopped putting staff mobile phone numbers on business cards.
The use of mobile phones by City staff has hit the headlines before. Almost 12 months ago, a rather stern memo is said to have been sent to BNP Paribas staff by 'Human Resources' (HR) on this subject. The memo was sent out just before it became illegal in England and Wales to use hand-held mobile phones while driving. According to the press, the missive said that 'apart from any criminal sanctions that may ensure, if handheld mobile phones are used while driving, individuals who breach the bank's guidelines in this regard may be subject to disciplinary proceedings'.
But HR's bark seems to have been worse than it's bite. Very few car-driving mobile phone users have, in fact, been brought to book by the police and BNP Paribas is thought not to have had to discipline any of its City staff in this respect.