The last hurrah for broker benders

Like the way of the corner office, neat white lines on top of brokers' notes and the 5am binges synonymous with wired traders may be nearing their expiry date.

Sacked ANZ traders say bank tolerated drugs, strip clubs

Two traders sacked by ANZ for inappropriate behaviour are suing the bank for tens of millions of dollars, claiming a rampant culture of sex, drugs and alcohol was condoned among senior staff on the dealing floor.

Former ANZ markets trader Etienne Alexiou's $30 million case against the bank for condoning a rampant culture of sex, drugs and alcohol has dramatised what young traders on the floor say is now becoming outdated behaviour.

"Those environments absolutely still exist and the party boys out there are usually sitting in trading seats," says one former broker, who wished to remain anonymous, as did most people quoted in this story.

'Guys who've risen through the ranks in Australian banks tend to have that go hard or go home mentality.'
'Guys who've risen through the ranks in Australian banks tend to have that go hard or go home mentality.' 

"But retail broking, I mean they're so far behind the ball. And there's still people trying to live those days and you can't do it. You can try, waiting for the bull market to come back, but you're just going to go broke."

There seems to be a disconnect between those who started in banking before the global financial crisis and those who've come into the industry afterwards.

One former equities trader recalls monthly trips to Sydney's Longrain restaurant, where an open bar tab enticed them to beat their previous record of how many caprioskas they could drink. By some standards, this was a tame activity.

"It's the guys pre-GFC who see it as a badge of honour. If you can't come out and get messy with us at least once every couple of months we don't want anything to do with you," the caprioska-participant says.

"Guys who've risen through the ranks in Australian banks tend to have that go hard or go home mentality. The overseas banks have a different standard."

'Contagious' behaviour

This culture of drinking, junkets, bullying and flamboyant excess stems from a rigid hierarchy within the organisation. 

"If you've got a manager who's a bit of a loose cannon or just decides to turn a blind eye, then that enables broking teams to go pretty hard," says another trader, who works on the floor at one of the big four banks.

"And once it gets going it's pretty contagious."

But several younger bankers find the industry in flux: where older managers and executives maintain partying as an extension of their work, younger participants are critical of where the money comes from. 

"It's been around forever, getting supremely out of control and splashing money around," another young trader says.

"The thing is most of these dudes don't even have much money. Those ANZ guys in the newspaper, yeah they had actual money. But most guys on the regular trading desk are trying to live an out-dated movie life they can't afford." 

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