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AsiaAsia CommentTaipan

Keep your eye on the ball


The markets are so busy at the moment you can’t catch a break. That could be a good or bad thing, depending on who you ask, but bankers can always be relied on to find creative ways to cope.

Like the old adage goes: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That’s exactly what a group of quant traders at a shop in Hong Kong did during a recent lull one Friday afternoon.

The investor community had gone quiet, seemingly content to take a post-lunch nap, or to plot their weekend debauchery.

Faced with the prospect of a boring afternoon, the traders were not content to twiddle their thumbs. And, when the bosses are away, the junior quant traders will play (or something like that). So they took over an empty conference room and hooked up their video system to Fifa, which for those not in the know, is a computer game the kids play nowadays.

It should come as little surprise that a room full of traders competing over football matches would start making bets. Nor should it be at all shocking that a few of their number went from simply tracking the scores to trying to create an algorithm to predict the eventual result. Who says bankers have too much time on their hands?

Their bosses would probably not be too pleased if they found out the team spent an afternoon playing computer games at work. But that might be because they missed out. And they may have been spared some competitive blushes too — those games are not as easy as they look.