This is Part 5 of a continuing series of posts about proprietary trading in the “early days.” To see all the posts, click the “my history” category in the sidebar.
I told Albert that I was ready to commit, full-time, to trading. The next step, he told me, was to come downtown and sign up with the firm.
I brought my resume and found Albert trading in the small hot room. He was up over $4000 and, as it was the middle of the day, ready to take a break. He stood up from his station and the math guy asked, “You gonna bring him up to meet Peter?”
“Yeah, he’ll be fine.” said Albert.
This made me nervous. Looking around the twilight of the room I received a bunch of glances that said, “Oh, you’re in for an experience.” The guys were snickering. Albert and I walked out into the tiny gray hallway and made for the elevator. In the elevator I asked Albert what was up with the guys.
“Well,” he said. “Peter is a bit of a character.” And the doors opened into a large room.
Voices straining. Phones ringing. Keyboards clacking. Palms slamming. Buzz. Heat. Buzz. The trading room.
Just off the room was a glass cube of an office, no blinds. It looked like a zoo exhibit. Inside, a man stood over another who was sitting in a chair. The standing man was waving his arms and yelling at the guy in the seat. There were obvious sweat rings under his arms even though it was February. “That’s Peter,” said Albert, pointing.
He looked like a wolf circling his prey.
The story I later heard was that Peter’s entire family worked for “The Anvil.” Apparently, he was the family outcast and had been handed the small, unprofitable trading division to keep him employed and out of the way. He wasn’t trusted to run anything properly and no one had realistic hopes for the trading operation. He was crazy and reckless. There were rumors of drug use, violent behavior, and car accidents. When he took the trading division over, it had only a handful of traders.
When I left Anvil a couple of years later, there were well over 1000 traders and the operation was wildly profitable. If nothing else, Peter was a masterful recruiter.
Albert casually poked his head into Peter’s office. Peter stopped mid-sentence when he saw Albert and walked over to grasp his hand. He flashed a brief, wolfish smile, nodded at Albert while looking proud and said simply, “YES!”
The man in the chair was visibly relieved that he was no longer alone with Peter. Peter looked at me while he shook Albert’s hand. He stared and exhaled heavily through his nostrils. Were his eyes crossed? Jesus, this guy was freaky looking! I had to look away. Albert began to introduce me, “This is the friend I was telling you about…”
Peter stood there, shaking Albert’s hand, staring at me, breathing, when he boomed, “ALBERT, YOU TELL YOUR LITTLE BUDDY HERE THAT YOU’RE GONNA MAKE A MILLION BUCKS THIS YEAR?”
Then he gave a twisted smile. He was not a good looking man. Did he have a lazy eye? Jesus.
Albert tried to say something, and I was speechless but Peter continued. He reached over and gave the man in the chair a light smack on the head. The trader, looking fearful that he might be hit again, glanced nervously over. “YOU SEE THIS GUY?” he asked while sticking his finger in Albert’s chest. “THIS GUY IS GONNA MAKE A MILLION BUCKS THIS YEAR. HE DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT HIS COMMISSIONS!”
Each word was punctuated by sprays of spit. I wanted to run.
“YOU COME IN HERE AND TELL ME YOUR FUCKING COMMISSIONS ARE HIGH?” he yelled at the trader. But before the trader could respond, Peter continued.
“FUCK YOUR COMMISSIONS, I SHOULD RAISE THEM!”
He walked behind his desk and looked into his screens. His voice was hoarse. It needed a rest. He shot air out his nose. It was almost as if he sucked energy from the numbers he was watching. He began to yell louder. “YOU JUST DON’T WANT TO MAKE A MILLION BUCKS! THAT’S YOUR PROBLEM! COME BACK AND TALK TO ME WHEN YOU WANT TO MAKE A MILLION BUCKS!” He pointed to the door.
The trader left without a protest. Cowed. Peter watched him leave the office with a frown.
The door now shut, Peter snapped his unsteady gaze back to Albert. He smiled and with a controlled calm said, “Go. Trade.” Albert looked at me and raised his eyebrows as if to say, “Well what can you do?” and left.
Peter turned to me and screamed, “YOU, SIT!”
And we were alone.
Want to make a million bucks? Follow me on Twitter.