London Metal Exchange – insider tour – HSG Alumni London
Our HSG London Alumni team has been looking into day-to-day trading at the London Metal Exchange. Diana Buraka (second left) met one of our HSG Alumni board members, Marko Kusigerski (first left), who works at the LME and shares his experiences at the oldest open-outcry Metal Exchange.
We got a unique insight into the essential processes at the London Metal Exchange from a privileged insider tour by one of our Alumni members.
For all those new to this subject, London Metal Exchange is the largest market in the world in metal options and futures, and it is central to official price setting. It is also, the only remaining ‘old fashioned’ exchange that still practices the ‘open-outcry’ way of trading. Each metal listed on the LME is traded individually in a short five-minute ring trading session and its outcome determines the official price worldwide! In 2012 LME was sold to Hong Exchange for £1.4 billion and currently it is looking into further expansion in China.
To our great fascination, we observed life trading sessions for zinc, copper and aluminum. The tactics of the ring trading resembled a heated parliamentary debate between the MPs, where ten exclusive members of ring were shouting out their last moment bid, accompanied by some energetic coded gestures that would outdo any fierce debate of two gesticulating Italians. The highlight of the short five-minute trading session for aluminum was at the very last minute, since every member hopes to get the last bid advantage. The whole process looks quite archaic and it hasn’t changed for the last hundred years. The ring proclaims the rule of gentleman, which means, styling yourself to something more extravagant than a conservative dark suit and tie will result in a hefty fine. During the ring session traders aren’t permitted to access any digital devises like phones or even digital watches, so, the only arsenal they have to their means is pen and paper, which brings me to memories of my final exam at the university of St. Gallen. Don’t get me wrong, not all of them are Swiss, but most of them are wearing Swiss watch, that they tune every morning to the perfect clock hanging above the trading ring. This obsession with the time-precision is beyond my time-management comprehension, but for the traders it is second nature, since every second can result into a ‘rugs to riches’ story. Pursuing a career of a trader and becoming familiar with the secret coded gestures and verbal messages is something that one starts from infanthood. Sadly, I missed my chance…
Eventually the bell marked the end of the official morning session and the heated activity in the ring diffused in a matter of seconds. We caught ourselves still holding our breath for the last five-minutes following the intensity of the trading battle. When the spectacular show was over, we made a group photo with relatively relaxed faces. It was time to thank Marko for an insightful tour at the LME and return to our offices.