He has also tried to distance the LME from any unofficial parties that might reflect badly on the giant, or wider market. Strip clubs were told in 2019 that they “can’t evoke the LME’s name” to drum up business during its annual gathering.
“The kind of people who misuse our name – adult entertainment venues who say: ‘it’s LME Week, come to our venue’ – they were never in the business of coming to us for approval; they just did it. In 2019 [after speaking to them], we didn’t see any of that behaviour. Did people still go to those venues? Yeah, but that’s their right as adults,” he explains.
“Our industry, and probably society as a whole, has changed for the better. I’d be really disappointed if we saw a reversal on 2019. We’re pushing on an open door – our members and clients want to be compliant.”
Yet many in the market don’t agree there is a cultural problem. Nigel Farage bemoaned how sterile the City had become in a 2016 Financial Times lunch involving “stag party” levels of alcohol. He traded metals at the LME in the 1980s and said that being in the City now was like “being a battery chicken” in comparison. Workers in the past could “go back to work, all crimson” after drinking at lunch, he said, and “no one cared”.
But a line was drawn on those boozy days when the LME introduced its ban on daytime drinking. The consumption of alcohol in “moderation” and at “appropriate events” was deemed acceptable, but drugs were banned. John Meyer, a mining analyst and partner at broker SP Angel, argues the reputation of metals traders as excessive party animals is outdated.
In the 90s, “City traders were walking around with wads of £50 notes and going large, but that was more to do with the deregulation of the City with traders making easy money,” he says. “There is a lot less excess in today’s tightly regulated markets. But with China restricting trading in commodity futures in Hong Kong, we expect to see more Asian money trading in London, so the good times for LME traders may well roll again.”