Simon English: Traders make a splash with their old mobiles
Thursday 26 January 2012
Outlook: Time for an update from Podgy Pete and Dozy Dave, the stock market traders no regulator could love.
It's now more than three months since a new FSDA ruling that mobile phone calls made on the trading floor must be taped (landlines have been for ages).
The move was an attempt to clamp down on insider trading, a practice the FSA regards as rife, though it doesn't catch people very often (Einhorn yesterday is a rare result).
Firms reacted to the new regulation in two ways. Some firms provided every trader with a work mobile that was recorded. Others just banned mobile phones from the trading area.
What's the effect been?
Nothing much really. Podgy and Dozy were irked by the new rule, but in truth it was mere minor inconvenience. Since they go through mobile phones like other people do socks, getting another one was no big deal.
Conversations on work lines were always dull anyway – the real talk was held later, outside or over drinks.
Pete and Dave are a bit spooked by the regulatory clampdown on their attempts to make an honest living, and say they are binning phones and buying new ones at record speed. They've even begun to worry about the environmental impact.
Are mobile phones biodegradable, they ask?
They're not – but they can be recycled. That's much too risky, they say. Once finished with, the phones must be destroyed.
I asked the head trader at another firm just what his lads do with their old phones.
He reckons that if you walk over London Bridge at the right time of the morning, a bit before 7am, you'll regularly see blokes in suits casually chucking pay-as-you-goes into the depths of the Thames.
Perhaps the FSA should hire a team of divers. It would be interesting to see what information the men in wetsuits might be able to recover...
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