UK Financial Services Authority fined J.P. Morgan Securities a record 33.32 million for failing to segregate client money from the bank’s own funds. The second largest, when the FSA fined Shell 17 million in 2004 for market abuse, pales in comparison.
But these fines are much like the penalties sportsmen receive after some particularly foul play. A ten grand fine might damage our bank accounts, but to an athlete who is paid 100k a week, the most annoying factor is asking someone to do the paperwork.
For J.P. Morgan, the most annoying factor is fielding the calls from hordes of journalists wanting to know the details. However even they have been perhaps less in number than usual, for this fine was not a riveting case of theft of fraud, rather a blinding mea culpa in the accounts department.
Like footballers, the quantitative aspect of the fine means little to J.P. Morgan. According to the NYTimes: JPMorgan said that its trading revenue hit $90 million on 39 days during the first quarter , and exceeded $180 million on nine days, or about 14 percent of the time.
Perhaps the FSA should have announced the fine in $/hr, although issuing a record fine of five hours trading revenue may not have seemed so impressive.