The Secret Broker: Bet, Hope and BHPray!

After 35 years of brokerage for some of Australia’s and the UK’s biggest houses and investors, the Secret Broker regales Stockhead readers with his colorful war stories – from the trading floor to the dealer’s desk.

Ah. The first day of September was happy for me.

The beginning of spring and the big australian Go the big australian ex-div meant my day was over before it even really started.

Breakfast in bed for Mrs. B and a little extra money thrown at the kids so they can all appreciate my good humor at the TAB.

The rest of the morning is taken up with my trips to the kitchen like Fred Astaire, as I prepare a barbecue for the evening.

A bottle of red is popped and left to breathe. The meat, which is almost still breathing, is taken out of the fridge and left to harden at room temperature, before being stripped and thrown on the embers.

In the afternoon, I’m picked up by a mate and dragged, kicking and cheering to my favorite watering hole, so I can relax and change the world with him, a beer at the time.

As we settle in, on the big TV screen they are playing an old NRL match from 1983, which I find fascinating.

Not for the game itself, but for publicity around the pitch. I like to see who was there then and if they are still there today.

The advertisers that stood out for me were Winfield cigarettes, followed by XXXX Beer and Tooheys. Then you also had Four n Twenty pies, Haig Scotch Whisky, TNT (on the referee’s shirt) and finally, Natwest Finance.

I guess back then you got a cigarette, a pie and a beer at halftime and a whiskey while running down the tunnel.

The other thing I observe is how lean they all looked compared to today’s boofheads.

Oh and also, no tattoos!

Once that game was done, they started making a promising game. On the front of the Roosters’ shirts was a “City Index” announcer.

I almost fell out of my chair, because I hadn’t seen that name in about forty years and they kept going. They were our go-to bookmakers when we were lads in town in the 80s.

I thought this showed just how far in reach UK betting companies have come, although in our day and age they were known for making spreads on financial indices, like the FTSE and the Dow Jones.

You can phone them and ask for a price back and forth on the FTSE anytime in the morning and then in the evening until Wall Street has closed UK time.

They never knew if you were a buyer or a seller and they never knew your position or your name. They would just give you a quote like ‘995 to 997’. You would then tell them what you wanted to do, in the size you wanted and your 5 digit account number.

So if they have spread you on the FTSE from ‘995 to 997’, then you can buy or sell it at £1 per point and up to £50 per point.

If you were bearish and thought the market was down, you could sell them 995 points, say £1 per point. They would then confirm and you would then give them your account number.

You can then call them anytime and ask them for ‘a quote on the FTSE please’ and they will give you their price.

If it was ‘963 at 965’ then you could buy back at ‘965’ and you would have gained £30 (sold at 995 and bought back at 965 = a profit of 30 points at £1 per point).

So to recap, they never knew if you were a buyer or a seller and they always quoted live over the phone.

Bad luck, just a simple broadcast and no internet.

A small contract note would arrive in the mail along with a check or statement of your current losses. They never shut you down but just kept sending statements.

The Sydney Roosters with a football sponsored by City Index, the London-based CFD and forex trading platform

And then the madness set in

They have introduced spread betting on cricket and tennis.

This meant we could all be sitting in a city pub on a summer day, drinking Pimms and buying and selling groceries, live, as the game played.

It was like a shopping paradise for us. We could trade something live and because it was considered a bet, all winnings were tax free.

This meant that if England were playing Australia at Lords we could bet between £1 per run and £50 per run, long or short and close the live position or just wait for the outcome.

If England beat and had a good number one batsman, we could make a bet on how many runs England would score on the day and live.

The booze, the gambling, the hot summer sun, young know-it-alls showing off… what could go wrong?

Much can, very quickly

…usually when, after a few too many beers, you all decide to just use one account and pool your resources, and you have a pretty big pre-game punt by doing long runs and watching in horror as Australia beat England’s number one batsman for 3 runs.

What happens is the price of the races crashes and a cup of the group (me) now has an account underwater and is responsible for the loss and the game has only been 5 minutes . Five fucking minutes!

I think they gave us a price on the total number of runs England would score in those legs of ‘280 runs to 290 runs’ and all five of us decided to go long at £5 each at 290 runs. So a total of £25 per run was our punt.

As soon as England’s number one batsman was knocked out for 3 runs, the next quote we got was like “140 runs to 150 runs”.

Five minutes into the game and we are on paper, the difference between 290 runs and the buy price is now ‘140 runs’. At £25 per run, this results in a loss of £3,750 or £750 each.

After more beers and Pimms, it was decided to wait out the innings and let nature take its course. I think we all ended up losing around £600 each, but on my City Index account! Ouch.

It took a while for everyone to spit and of course my account at City Index couldn’t be used until its balance was down from minus £3000 to zero.

By the time my account was right to go again – about three months – summer was over with me.

The moral of this story is:

a) How good the 80s were
b) Don’t drink or kick
c) Don’t drink or kick but if you do, never let anyone use your account
d) Crying overwaters your Pimms
e) BHP is a decent long-term investment

The Secret Broker can be found on Twitter here @SecretBrokerAU or by email at [email protected]

Do not hesitate to contact him with your best stock advice and ideas.

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