Bloomberg Instant Messaging (IM) is addictive. Traders spend years of their lives talking about football scores and communicating with their work girlfriends/boyfriends on the medium. They’ve also use it to send nefarious messages about fixing market prices. For this reason, the Wall Street Journal reported today that JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, UBS, Barclays and Citi are all thinking of blocking traders from chatrooms.
We understand, however, that many rates and FX traders at these banks have been banned from Bloomberg IM already. “It was blocked months ago,” says one.
This leaves traders in a bit of a social vacuum. Citigroup’s got its own chat system, but the WSJ says most traders are supposed to be communicating by email or telephone calls, both of which lack the gonzo-immediacy of the instant message- chat phenomenon.
“People are just going to have to use texts,” says trader-turned-headhunter Christian Robbins. “Some banks have banned mobile phones from the trading floor, but you still see them,” he adds.
Better than texts may be BBM, the Blackberry Messenger service popular among rioting British youths in 2011. Alternatively, the iPhone has plenty of instant messenger apps, which may or may not be considered chat rooms by banks’ compliance teams. Failing that, there’s pigeons. Or quiet corners after-hours in pubs.