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Foreign Exchange

FX poll: Poll dancing

It’s that time of year again, when buy siders – especially active ones – become the best mates of FX salespeople around the world; when bank clients can extract promises about service levels, be wined and dined – at a reasonable cost of course – and attend what I will politely call “conferences” in swanky locations.

Yes, the Euromoney FX poll has gone live.

It is only right that the poll is taken seriously. The sheer number of respondents gives it a robustness no other survey on FX has, and this article has to reflect that.

Apparently, some market participants believe this column shapes opinion sometimes, which presents me with a bit of a dilemma. In the interest of fairness, I either have to take the Mickey out of everyone, or be nice to them all.

This year I have decided to be nice and I will try my hardest not to make fun of banks such as Bank of America Merrill and its revolving door policy, or RBS, which I joked last week had resignations right up to Christmas. This week, my jaw dropped when I heard that Tsuyoshi Maruyama, who worked in FX sales in its Tokyo branch, actually resigned on Christmas Day. I know that the Japanese don’t celebrate Christmas the way we do in the UK, but this seems to say something about RBS that isn’t exactly positive. Word on the street is that Maruyama-san is off to Barclays as a director in FX sales.

Anyway, back to the poll and being nice.

I write every year that it is interesting to see who goes up and who goes down; I studiously avoid making predictions, because as I have found in the past, clients often show a remarkable degree of loyalty and continue to support their sell-side counterparties even when they hit the buffers. Certain banks have managed to wing it through a tough 2009 and their FX franchises are emerging relatively unscathed from the financial meltdown.

Which brings me nicely to UBS.

The bank traditionally sends out a cheap, but well-thought-out gift to its clients as a small gesture of thanks for their participation in the poll. It also gives me an easy chance to make fun of it, which I obviously do in a very puerile manner. But like I said, I’m going to be nice to everyone this year. When I get my UBS wooden plane, I won’t take any pictures of it, like we did last year with the glow-in-the-dark Lego car, and caption it: ‘UBS crashes and burns’.

It does pay to be nice though, as I discovered this week when someone sent me a bottle of champagne. Unusually, it didn’t disappear into a hole at Euromoney and it made it to my desk. Unfortunately, I have no idea who sent it, so if it was a bribe, you’d better send another one with a card attached. Seriously, thanks to whoever you are.

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