By now and by rights, at this advanced stage in his career, the Naked Broker should have been retired and put out to grass — or out of his misery.
At the very least, he should have moved upstairs to something more dignified and managerial, befitting his experience. He should be on those steering committee things (whatever they are) or shuffling papers in a cosy office, hidden away from the cut and the thrust, the rowdiness and the vulgarity of the trading floor, boozing through lunch and then snoozing the afternoons away.
He should be playing golf with the big knobs (even though he can’t play golf and the only big knob he hangs out with…well, best left unsaid).
Does he just love the game and broke for the sheer hell of it, or do economic imperatives force his hand? Do you need to ask the question? Are you stupid or something?
Most of his contemporaries are long-since retired or helming hedge funds successfully. There are some who have become property developers (a euphemism for slum landlords) and some who trade for their own account at home, either to generate a bit of pocket money because they miss the trading buzz (what they tell you) or to recoup losses with increasing desperation from a series of catastrophic investments (the more likely story).
There has been no celebrity makeover, although a combover cannot be discounted. There is no relaunch and no rebranding of the product. It is essentially the same. (Why fix what is irreparable?) No lifestyle coach has been employed to change the defeatist mindset, no image consultant retained to advise and guide on style — or its absence.
Bereft of the pulpit provided by GlobalCapital from which to sermonise and conduct rudimentary self-therapy, I have been obliged to hire the professional services of psychotherapists, however.
Exploring my emotional hinterland and charting my mental decline now takes place during l’heure d’adultere on a chaise longue in a South Kensington apartment rather than between the covers of this magazine. With health insurance, it works out cheaper than renting a sex worker for an hour and performs essentially the same function. I’m working my way through them. The therapists that is. Not sexually, you understand, but after a few sessions with me even the most hardened counsellors tend to end up in therapy themselves. They are supposedly inured to the trauma of their patients’ scarred and damaged emotional lives but none of them yet seems capable of resolving the dilemma of how to remain gainfully employed in the financial services industry during The Cyclical Downturn Bolted Onto A Structural Decline. This does their head in.
Other than that lifestyle accessory, though, same old, same old.
He wears the bottoms of his suit trousers rolled. He is institutionalised. He needs la chaine des gestes quotidiens, the routine of a lifer doing porridge on A wing because without its structure and backbone he would surely atrophy and fade away. What has changed in these last three years since the Naked Broker (dis)graced these pages and bestrode the City like a midget? Nothing really. Everything is just like it was — except worse.
All of which illeism I shall now dispense with because while a personality transplant was beyond my means and I remain as priapic, crapulous, thwarted and embittered as before I have decided that there should be at least a change in nomenclature for this suicide note in weekly instalments.
So, bid adieu to The Naked Broker and say hello to The Pained Trader. The definition of a pain trade is immutable: you cast your mind back a few years and to a period when you thought industry conditions could not possibly deteriorate from where they were but when you compare them to the predicament in which you now find yourself, it seems like a Golden Era.
Whatever else I was doing in the last three years, it was not making money. No, one thing which did not desert me in that period was my genius for misprognostication.
Contractual obligations forbade me from writing this column even though it was anonymous (don’t quote me on that) and thus I deprived you of the pleasure of seeing all my forecasts come spectacularly untrue.
In chronological order, I did not foresee the Russian invasion of the Crimea, the Tory majority in the UK election, the shock of Brexit or the election of Donald Trump as president of America.
Ukraine, the Labour party, the Remain campaign and Hillary Clinton can all feel justifiably hard done by after their fortunes followed a course diametrically opposed to that I confidently predicted for them. I liked Brent at $120. I thought Greece was a buy. I bought a VW. A gold one.
It may not be a Golden Era for stockbroking and investment banking but it is for satire. One of my problems in the last few years is having my clients distinguish between what was intentionally satirical (my caricaturing of politics) and unintentionally satirical (all my stockbroking). I hope to have more success in this parish.
After three muzzled years at my last employers, I still had not successfully completed the online Workstation Safety Procedure Assessment nor had I figured out how to log onto the firm-wide, electronic holiday calendar before our ways parted.
Perhaps more pertinently, nor had I worked out what should be the correct approach to MIFID, how to counter the cannibalisation of traditional broking by low-cost or no-cost electronic trading, how to remain the right side of Market Abuse Regulations and how to stymie endlessly cunning corporates who deploy Baroque ingenuity to avoid paying for the issuance of bonds or stock.
I’ve always struggled to prioritise the right thing. This will be the challenge wherever I end up next.