Luckily there was no one foolish enough to be long on sterling so I had no concerns about stop losses. The pound simply collapsed. I could hear brokers in various U.S. and Asian centres screaming offers that were never going to be taken up. Bids were non-existent. I had orders to buy pounds all the way from 2.9300 to 2.7500 so simply watched as the market collapsed becoming more and more naturally short as the mayhem continued.
When looked back on the carnage that ensued it is incredible just how short a time it all took. Fifteen minutes after the announcement, I was putting bids into the market and picking up the short position I had created. After about a couple, of hours the market was reasonably settled, and I received a call from the Head of Trading who was seemed incredibly calm. He simply asked me how it had gone, and I replied fine, desperate to release the build-up of adrenaline that was pumping through my veins.
Next morning, as the traders started to arrive they all wanted to hear how it had gone. My boss, the Head of Trading simply put a large cappuccino on my desk and said, “once you are cleared up, let’s have a chat”.
“Go Home and sleep!”
That “chat” lasted no more than five minutes. We had had an incredible night and it was the highlight of my career to be able to see at first hand the entire fabric of a country’s monetary policy be torn to shreds by a voracious market and it gave me a unique perspective to be able to say, “I was there!”.
As I entered the boss’s office, I knew that we had both made the right decision, Him in offering me a role to which I was eminently suited, me in accepting the offer despite initial misgivings.
We quickly agreed that the amount of profit we made, that while substantial in terms of my team was a “drop in the bucket” as far as the entire Treasury and its year’s figures were concerned. For me it was having being given the responsibility to oversee such a momentous event, an event which wasn’t repeated until Swiss National Bank withdrew its peg to the Euro or the result of the Brexit referendum in June 2016, but for the bank it was another rung on the ladder to its goal of being the pre-eminent global provider of treasury services.
I was instructed to “go home and sleep”, but when I arrived home the rush was still so great that body and mind were on a totally different path and it took a long time for me to finally “come down”
A Career Defining Moment.
I was allowed to give a few quotes to reporters who called the following evening despite the banks strict policy on keeping everything low-key. The TV news and earlier papers had been full of the amount of money George Soros had made and boastful comments for traders who had, apparently, made multiples of their yearly target.
I treated such comments with a pinch of salt and was happy to be mentioned more along the lines of the effect of the event rather than its financial consequences. I was quoted as saying “just being part of the event, managing to protect my customers and most importantly the integrity of the market” was truly memorable.
As I was leaving the bank to go home, and the Head of Trading had resumed his place at the desk, an attack had already started on the Lira. It was in a similar position to Sterling given its high inflation and indefensible level versus the Deutschemark. I was tempted to stay and watch but enough, as they say is enough!”