Simon English: The City still has a place for alcoholic coke-heads

Outlook "Give me PSHs – poor, smart and hungry. And no feelings... I got 20 other brokers out there, analysing charts. I don't need another one."

Those are some of the words Gordon Gekko uses in Wall Street to seduce Bud Fox into getting him inside information.

Over cocktails at the Mayfair Mews – don't go if you dislike being surrounded by hedgies and headhunters – a senior stockbroker pal agreed with Gekko's sentiment.

He doesn't want inside information, genuinely, but neither does he want just another guy doing the same as everyone else.

By his telling, the perfect trading desk is made up of a mix of the diligent and the drunk.

Some traders really are good at reading charts. Some have an instinctive feel for what markets are going to do on any given day. And some excel at getting pissed with rich clients and winning business, even if they are so hungover someone else needs to execute the trades.

"So the dream team would be probably 20 per cent geniuses, 60 per cent really hard workers, and 20 per cent alcoholic coke-heads," says the broker.

"There's a couple of guys at our place that only keep their jobs because they're entertaining and they make clients laugh. They come in sweating vodka at 10am, do £100,000 of business from some rich guy they've charmed the night before, then crawl home to bed."

There is much less of this sort of thing in the City than there used to be. It is still there though. Which is oddly reassuring.

s.english@independent.co.uk

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