By Richard Matthews 4th August 2018
Well it’s cold down here in the water
It’s cold down here in the sea
Who’d be a channel swimmer?
Only a fool like me
I’ve greased my body
And I’m heading over the ocean
These two arms are the only locomotion
Kevin Godley / Graham Gouldman
I haven’t written for a while and I can assure you it’s not because I have nothing to say or my memory has gone. I still have plenty of stories and plenty of views on the market especially as project fear takes place regarding Brexit. I Haven’t written because I’ve been swimming. Yes swimming but not just any old swimming I’ve been in training for a charity swim and dipping my toes into the English Channel. Much as I would like to I’m not planning to swim the channel…yet.
Swimming is a great release from the day to day grind and gives your mind literally time to float away and forget the daily grind .Mostly I am paddling away counting lengths or strokes taken but occasionally my mind turns to more market orientated subjects. I think about Brexit, I think about days gone by but recently I’ve been thinking about what drives a broker and what makes a good broker. I suspect that my mind wanders to thoughts like this as I’m still as driven to compete as I was 45, yes 45, years ago when I came into the markets. Whether it is kicking a ball around in the garden with my grandsons, competing for a business or indeed taking part in a charity swim I want to be the best and win. But why?
I first heard the expression about old and bold in connection with riding a motorbike at the same time as another expression which goes somewhere along the lines of “ there are two types of bike riders in London . Those that have had a crash and those that are about to”. Both expressions came from a great motor cycle fanatic, Rollo Feilding, who sadly passed away from Cancer some years back . Both of these expressions can and are used towards broking . The first as I have used it in the title and the second in numerous ways but I’ve always liked the thought that there are two types of brokers. Those that have misquoted a price and those that are about to.
In my mind though there are two different driving factors that make a broker succeed. Wealth and material effects come with success but the skills needed to obtain them come from deep seated childhood influences. I remember when I was running a big team and the top brokers in it were either yearning to please or convinced they were better than everyone else. Right from the very top down you could split the brokers into two camps. I used to listen to out trade tapes and wince when I heard the arrogance of some of my staff and yet when questioned them over their attitudes they would just look at me as if I was barmy. Myself? Well without giving too much away all my childhood I just wanted to please my Dad.
Either type though was, and are, driven. At times this drive, especially when you are floundering , is a real monkey on your back . I am pretty certain that my wife has her patience tested by my will to please when it appears as the will to win. I am sorry Debbie but that’s the way it is even counting daily steps I have to win. Away from the markets I am sure if you analysed success you will find similar stories of this inherent drive overcoming obstacles. One such man was Stephen Hawking who was a man so all consumed with his ambitions that he overcame his handicaps and by the end of his life was widely recognised as one of the great minds of all time.
Stephen Hawking and the wholesale financial markets. Hmm I never thought that I would connect the great man with guys who made a living by mainly shouting loudly. However I have done so and there is also greater reason to do so which actually the major reason for this article as on 21st September I am taking part in a charity swim to raise funds for The Motor Neurone Disease association. Ah I hear you say a couple of lengths in some elegant swimming pool to raise a few quid? Well actually it’s a little more than a couple of lengths and I must be honest at time I wished that’s all that it was. It’s actually 500m in the Victoria Docks …not quite the Thames but near enough.
Five Hundred Metres. I’m not sure whether it sounds more or less when it is spelt out that but it is either 20 or 25 lengths of a decent pool. Again doesn’t sound much but in open cold water and with a recommendation to be able to swim 700 m, to err on the safe side, it starts to be a little more of a challenge and that’s before battling through the paparazzi trying to get a snap of me in a wetsuit! To be honest I didn’t think it was very tough till I went for my first swim in years and struggled to complete two lengths. Now anybody who has known me for any length of time will know I have always loved swimming but I guess the occasional operation on my neck had taken its toll.
The good news is that I am now swimming two or three times a week and loving it and most Saturday or Sunday’s I am down at Pett Level swimming in the sea and subsequently being warmed up by Andy Forbes-Gower at the The Red Pig. And do you know what? I actually love it. Is it the sense of freedom or a sense of achievement that’s driving me? I am not sure but open water swimming is without doubt great fun but there, as always, is a rub.
The rub this week though is purely financial. I really hope that all of you enjoy reading my occasional columns and I set out to write them for fun and not monetary gain…but here it comes. Can you dig into your pockets a little and make a small sponsorship pledge? How does 10 pence a meter sound? £50 to help raise funds for MNDA and to encourage this old broker to be bold one last time?
Over the next few weeks, till the swim, I am going to be giving the occasional update but I can assure you that that every bit of sponsorship, however small, encourages me to plod up and down a few more lengths.
This is the link you will need to make the pledge https://my.race-nation.co.uk/sponsorship/entry/146029
and if you wish to either take part or just to learn more about the event please click on this link https://www.londoncityswim.com/
Just too neatly round up this column, as I was studiously taught to do at school, two last points. The photo for this column has little relevance to the writing apart from the fact it features a bunch of sharks but photos of the market always get the best readership! Secondly my late Dad learnt to swim in Millwall, in about 1915, where he grew up in the which is within spitting distance of The Victoria Docks and one of the greatest senses of achievement I’ve felt was seeing my mother (who taught me to swim) at 85 swimming in a pool that I had had built when I lived in Spain. Not that I worry about still pleasing my parents even now they’ve gone.
Richard Matthews, who began his career in 1973, is a former trader-broker in the London money, futures and foreign exchange markets. Twitter @dickiematthews5 www.theotherdoor.co