Compliance no threat to football fans
After four years, it’s Fifa World Cup time again — which means football shirts, beers, endless pub hours, lots of yelling, shouting and fighting, and of course, the always unrealised hopes of a victory.
It is also the time when everyone suddenly turns into a football enthusiast in Hong Kong, is willing to wake up at odd hours of the night to catch a game (the time difference can be hell) and has a ready excuse to their other halves for having a late night with friends.
Bankers, analysts and portfolio managers in the city too are no different from the rest, starting their month of celebration even before the kick-off of the first match, which saw host Russia, the lowest ranked of all the 32 teams in the tournament, surprisingly thrash Saudi Arabia.
Many banks’ credit and trading desks have published their own World Cup guides — some as lengthy as 28 pages. But it’s the investment bankers at some of the big firms that have had to show real ingenuity to deal with the World Cup.
You see, it’s of course typical of investment bankers to have a bit of fun by betting on the football results. It’s usually not about the money but about beating others. But this year, the compliance teams have cracked down — with no bets allowed within the banks.
Of course, a true gambler would not let compliance get in his way. Bankers have found a smart way to get around this roadblock: instead of organising bets via work emails, all communications, thoroughly encrypted, are being done through WhatsApp.
If you hear your colleagues’ phones buzzing far too frequently until July 15, you know why.