07 February 2007: DJIA Close: 12192; HSBC GBP9.34
Turns out we do have a compliance officer.
Im sitting in the turret, watching a screen that is telling me the news that, despite HSBC taking a modest USD6.8bn hit on its sub-prime business in the US in 2006, the share price is actually going up. The market likes it. Strangely, Stanley hasnt called this morning.
I am eventually aware of some little guy who looks like a bad virus hovering just to one side of me, but still in my field of vision. Larry? he says, as if that might not be my name. Yeah? Larry, my name is Haresh. Im head of compliance.
Talk about having the worst job title in the world. Then I remembered: wed hired a compliance guy this years must-have fashion accessory but nobody told me that he might actually come and bother me. Compliance with what? I had asked at the time the partners first discussed the role. Were not regulated how I love Republican politicians so what did we have to comply with?
I was overruled. Haresh was the unfortunate result. Probably a great guy and all that, but compliance just gets in the way of making money. And?
Larry, we need to discuss certain transactions that have gone across client accounts. Could we set up a time to meet?
Why? Is there a problem?
He is about to launch into something when the Stanleyphone vibrates into life on my desk. I dont say anything, but make a face that is meant to show that, whilst Id like to do nothing better than chew the fat with old Haresh about compliance issues, a client call would sadly have to take precedence. Haresh is obviously not up to speed with traders body language, standing dead still. Hey, buddy, just hold one mo, I say into the phone. Sotto voce, to Haresh: Ill call you later, and we can talk. OK? He doesnt look thrilled, but leaves.
Stanley doesnt want to talk about HSBC. Instead, he wants to talk boats. As always, there is an angle. We chat a little about how I am getting on with the Sunseeker I have a Portofino 53 before he mentions that a client of his is thinking about selling his 1967 Riva Super Aquarama. Am I interested?
One day Ill write a book about Riva boats. I could probably even write a book about my feelings towards them. Yeah, women can be good in short doses, but a Riva boat is something else. Every man should have the opportunity to stand at the wheel of one, fire up the twin Crusader engines and motor round the bay at some fantastically tony location in the south of France or Italy, preferably with a bikini-clad Charlize Theron as your passenger.
Stanley burbles on a bit about the guy says that the market has peaked, valuations are way out of line, sub-prime is going to kill us all and he is getting out and selling everything but Im not really listening. I am thinking of Charlize and me, the Riva moored in the harbour as we drink Bellinis and enjoy the sunset before heading to my hotel room for an intimate dinner deux.
Half a million would secure it. I tell Stanley I am seriously interested.