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Foreign Exchange

BNP Paribas' New World Order: Once a dealer...

It was off to a series of client presentations by BNP Paribas yesterday.

Titled The New World Order – which I thought sounded more Teutonic than Gallic – the bank outlined some of the things it thought were likely to occur in the near future.

The various discussions were followed by a quick look at the bank’s new trading platform and a simulated trading game. It’s not that I’m competitive, but as I was sent off to take my chair, I was reminded by James Davison, the bank’s head of FX structuring EMEA, that I was once supposedly a trader. Fortunately for me, I was paired up with Marcel Neeleman, BNP’s head of emerging market option trading, who clearly knows what he is doing.

We quickly devised a strategy, which was that the first move on the platform would be wrong and that our position had to be huge.

This caused a bit of consternation. We were soon way over our limit, but I lied our way out of it and kept trying to bash the other players, who for some reason stopped quoting us. Interestingly, the game wasn’t just about P&L, but also about satisfying the clients. As the fictional market moved our way, we were swamped with customer calls, which Neeleman wanted to pick up. I refused to let him: "What’s more important, clients or shareholders?" I shouted.

The result was that we did top the P&L charts, but I was told that I would still be sacked for breaking all the rules and for telling clients that they could go forth and multiply. I had no idea that I was still so scarred by my experiences of trading USD/DEM all those years ago. I was reminded just how long ago it was when I was introduced to one of the bank’s rising stars. "Meet Lee, he writes for Euromoney and used to be a trader. He did dollar/mark," Davison explained. "Dollar what? I’ve never heard of that," replied the young whippersnapper. He may as well have added:

"How you left, shag,” but I don’t think such vernacular is used any more in the FX market.

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