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Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Fight Club for finance’s top brass

Fight Club for finance’s top brass: The world of finance has a secret, exclusive, and unnamed club whose members are wealthy traders making high-risk (and high-reward) money moves, Alastair Marsh writes for Bloomberg. “It has no name and no board of directors but has a roster drawn from the world’s wealthiest and most successful traders. Members essentially become their own one-person firms, even firms within firms, by gaining a seal of approval to trade in the complex products typically reserved for institutions that manage hundreds of bns of USD. And all without drawing the attention of Wall Street’s everyday mn’aires.”

What does it take to get into the Finance Fight Club? Oh, you know, just a cool USD 25 mn “admission payment” to get what Marsh refers to as “the prize”: An International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) master agreement. “In the USD 542 tn market for over-the-counter derivatives, ISDA agreements set out the trading terms between two parties. In the vernacular of Adam McKay’s adaptation of The Big Short, they represent ‘a hunting license’ that lets an investor sit at the ‘big boy table and make high-level trades not available to stupid amateurs.’” A firm that hands out these agreements can get its hands on top-tier clients — and can charge a nice premium while they’re at it.

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