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FX survey 2014: The trials of a global head of foreign exchange

Who would be a global head of foreign exchange in a market like this? Most of them are spending the vast majority of their days dealing with investigations, rather than thinking strategically about their business or going out to see clients.

“I worry about this stuff 25 hours a day,” one FX head wryly tells Euromoney. Their businesses are under investigation; their own conduct is as well.

“We all know that if something comes up, we’ll never work in this industry again,” he adds.

They’ve already seen a number of senior FX bankers call time on the market and move on to pastures new. They know their own time to do so might come soon – whether of their own volition or because they have to.

Another head of FX says the climate of fear pervades the trading floor: “People are not just worried about losing their jobs; suddenly there are potential legal and even criminal issues at play, which comes completely out of the blue for those working in a market that was previously untouched by regulation.”

Some don’t even really feel like bankers anymore. “We’ve all turned into mini lawyers,” jokes one top-five bank chief. “Every email is read by at least nine people before you hit the send button.”

Many bankers in foreign exchange worry about the potential impact of a host of senior people, with all their collective experience, exiting the market at a time when that experience is needed to help reshape the industry.

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