A light-hearted look at the events of Summer 1998.

The Client that got away
28 August 1998

The Scene:

Summer 1998, Hong Kong. The Hang Seng Index just passed through 7,000. Downwards. A bored stockbroker in Queen's Road gazes out of the window as the rain trickles down the pane somewhat faster than the volume on his broker screen. A mild-mannered, slightly greying gentleman strolls into the broker's office and sits down in an amply padded leather armchair, rainwater seeping out of his shoes. He begins to speak:

Man: I'd like to open a trading account.
Broker: Excellent. Always good to have new business in these difficult times. Now I'll just need to ask you a few questions to satisfy the "know your client" rules of the Exchange. You know, old chap - money laundering - that sort of thing. Your name isn't Launder is it?
Man: No, wrong sketch mate. Go ahead with your questionnaire.
Broker: Have you any previous experience of trading in the stock market?
Man: Well, not really, I normally use fund managers for that sort of thing.
Broker: OK, I'll just put "complete amateur" on the form. And how much were you thinking of investing?
Man: Oh, I don't know. Say about 15 bars for starters?
Broker: "Very good Sir" [the broker instantly folds away his copy of the Racing Standard and becomes polite] "that's 15 million Hong Kong...
Man: No no, I mean bars as in billion, US dollars
Broker: Jesus Christ!
Man: No, but you are close. The name's "Joseph"
Broker: And I suppose you've got a technicoloured dreamcoat too?
Man: No, but a colleague of mine does a natty line in bow ties....
Broker: Never mind that. We'll just put "more money than sense" in the net-worth box. May I ask how you came by all this um, shall we say, "liquidity"?
Man: Well, actually, I collected it from 6 million people, over a period of about 147 years.
Broker: Are you sure you're not connected with the Church?
Man: Not a bit of it. We just skim a bit off here and there - you know, stamp duty, land premiums, booze, betting levy, that sort of thing.
Broker: No drug money?
Man: Nope. We used to tax opium but we banned that before World War II.
Broker: Do you have any particular stocks in mind?
Man: Anything and everything. And I'd like to play the futures too. A mate of mine in a hedge funds said I could make some dough.
Broker: [aside] hmmm. Rich and gullible. I like this guy...
[To client]: and how will Sir be settling his account?
Man: Are Hong Kong dollars OK?
Broker: [sharp intake of breath] Oooh, I don't know, we don't get much call for them these days...
Man: Aw, come on man, that's all I got right now. I've been spending my greenbacks in the forward market.
Broker: Very well. But I want non-sequential used notes. None of that Exchange Fund Bill junk.
Man: Done. And money's no object. In fact, pay as much as you can. Give me "expensive" with a capital E on them stocks.
Broker: Are you crazy? You want me to pay as much as humanly possible? Top dollar? The whole shebang?
Man: Yes, BUY, BUY!
Broker: OK, bye-bye...you clearly don't have the compos mentis to sign this form.

and with that the broker booted the would-be client out of his office and passed up the opportunity to execute the easiest, biggest, take-no-prisoners buy order of all time.

© Webb-site.com, 1998

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