So how are most traders feeling at the moment ?
How does it feel when volumes are low and you’re pulling your hair out ? Well every job has its ups and downs and its particular cycles. Is ours any different ? The problem with our business is you go from hero to zero in a nanosecond as your sorry a*s hits the street, and it’s the nature of things that when you get that silver bullet, it’s generally at the same time as everyone else is getting theirs. I think it’s worse this time round, though, and in a minute I’ll tell you why.
It’s not just seeing colleagues of long standing getting their marching orders that eats at you, it’s the looming reality that this is the big squeeze and anyone could end up making their last career move. The quantitative easing and hyper low (even negative) interest rates have made the markets less and less appealing to investors. It’s as if Mario Draghi’s 'we’ll do everything that it takes' speech of July 2012 has resulted in a continued support process for European markets that has inexorably lead to a situation where there's no value anywhere. This is all very for society at large, but for the City society it’s gradually proving to be something of a disaster.
If investors are increasingly indifferent to what you have to offer them, then the traction you'll get will inevitably diminish. The new regulatory environment frowns on too much entertaining, so you have to be a lot more careful about going out with clients, providing tickets and so on. In any case, it’s hard to justify big nights out when you’re not seeing the business! You can make the same case for business travel too. Who wants to leave the dealing floor for days when it’s going off like a coup in a central American republic ? You’d rather sit on the desk staring gloomily at your message-free screens - in the faint hope that you’ll get some enquiry. Paranoia maybe, but entirely understandable. So client relationships inevitably suffer.
But the sting in the tail might lie only a few seats away from you in the form of the latest round of eager graduate employees. At a time of cost cutting, more and more electronic trading, and less and less face to face interaction, who needs old relationships and indeed even older staff anyway? A mate of mine at another shop sighed down the phone, 'Mate, I’m surrounded by younger grads here, and I'm beginning to feel like grandpa!'.