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Foreign Exchange

You don’t get nuffing for nuffing

They used to say in the FX market that what you got paid was highly correlated to what you achieved in terms of revenue generation. It’s always struck me as a false claim, one that is completely at odds with the guaranteed bonus culture that has taken hold over the past couple of decades.

Years ago, when I was at Nomura, we were desperate for a spot dollar/yen dealer. My boss, the great Tom Elliot, identified a ‘Billy big dog’ who apparently met our needs and arranged to meet him at some swanky restaurant in Chelsea. When Tom arrived, ‘Billy’ was already there. Tom ordered a gin and tonic and before he had barely taken a sip, Billy put his cards on the table: “I’ll come round if you give me this, that and the other.” Tom replied: “I’ll give you all of that, if you make me this every year.”

Billy’s jaw dropped. “I’m not guaranteeing that,” he spluttered. At which point, Tom asked for the bill from the waiter.

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