Snubbed on the trading floor

It was going to be like joining Goldman Sachs - without going attending all the interviews.

If you look at the photo that accompanied the Bloomberg article about the former UBS trading floor, you can make me out bottom left. Dark black hair- I had lots of it back then. I remember when the photographer came as he stood on a gallery over the floor just above me. I skipped up the stairs and offered him $50 to take my photo at the desk - I must have known this would be my career’s high point - but he snubbed me.

'If I do that , buddy, the other 2000 traders will all want one!' You see, you sat there in splendid company, a veritable multitude of sales, debt capital markets, traders, equities analysts, futures, options, derivatives quants - every bond desk known to man… and sometimes it felt like we were Masters of the Universe in our shiny bespoke bubble, under one giant roof in, err, Stamford.

For me, Stamford had nothing to recommend it. It was the very poor cousin of Greenwich, or Westport. The only thing it did have going for it was that Metro North stops there. So the SBC decision makers / influencers at the time must surely have signed off on the location by sticking a random pin on the map.

'Let’s shove a trading floor there then. We can save on state and city tax, and the punters can use the train, while we can drive to work from Greenwich in our Porsches or E-Types. Note to selves - upsize the garage'. You get the idea.

After the SBC/UBS merger in 1998, I found myself leaving behind the cushy UBS offices on Park Avenue - a mere 10 minutes by bike from where I lived in Manhattan on the Upper West Side - to struggle bleary-eyed at 5.30 a.m. to the Stamford trading floor. The ultimate insult - an unhealthy reverse commute. But by then I had been convinced by my amiable (but somewhat disingenuous) boss that this would be like joining Goldman Sachs - without going for an interview. So I sucked it all up, and for a while it felt good. UBS Warburg. Nice. They even changed my title to Director from Vice President - and we all made good money. Then we ran into the LTCM debacle, and realised pretty quickly that UBS was about as well run as most other investment banks. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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