London Feasts on Haggis as Traders Gird for Scots ResultsAnchalee Worrachate, David Goodman and Lucy Meakin
At London’s tartan-decorated Boisdale restaurant, diners will tuck into haggis, smoked salmon and whisky as they follow tomorrow’s vote on Scottish independence. On trading floors surrounding the Canary Wharf venue, those trying to profit from the referendum may face a more lonely experience.
“A few of us will be following the results I’m sure, and that may take us into the small hours, but I don’t think I’m going to be getting my headset on and calling banks overnight,” said James Wood-Collins, chief executive officer of currency manager Record Plc in Windsor, west of London. “If things take an unexpected turn we have got contingency plans in place. It’s more about making sure we keep clients out of the way of the volatility in the aftermath.”
The pound dropped and measures of implied price swings jumped this month as opinion polls showed a rising likelihood that Scotland would vote in favor of independence. With more-recent surveys showing the “no” vote regaining prominence, sterling recovered losses against the dollar. At the same time, some traders exited positions to avoid sudden market moves, others plan to work extra hours and some are seeking support from colleagues around the world.
“We will have people doing the late shift Thursday and the early shift Friday with support from other centers,” Claude Goulet, HSBC Holdings Plc’s head of institutional sales for foreign-exchange and commodities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Longer shifts aren’t unusual for key events such as the Scottish referendum, he said.
After 307 years of unity, a vote in favor of secession risks sparking repercussions beyond U.K. markets. Spanish government-bond traders say they’re also watching the result in case it has implications for the push for Catalan independence in that nation.
Soeren Moerch, head of fixed-income trading at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen, says his team will probably work through the night to monitor events.
“If Scotland votes ‘yes,’ we are in trouble because it could set off the same movement in Spain, Italy and Belgium,” he said in a phone interview. “In case of ‘no’ vote, I think European fixed-income will see a large relief rally, driven by peripheral bonds.”
Boisdale, which specializes in Scottish-sourced food, will be showing live referendum coverage as it hosts 44 people for a sold-out dinner including Hebridean lobster, Aberdeenshire fillet steak and cheese and oatcakes.
“It was really just the popularity of it,” events manager Valerie Faichney said in a phone interview yesterday. “We do have Scottish heritage and a lot of our clients were interested in being able to watch it as it all unfolds and eat and drink well at the same time.”
Other events around the capital include the opportunity for Scottish country dancing enthusiasts to enjoy jigs and reels at a referendum ceilidh in Balham, South London, organized by folk band Fiddle Paradiddle.
Expatriate Scot Simon Kay, a graphic designer, has blocked Friday from his diary: he’ll be spending it in the Canny Man, the self-proclaimed “only authentic Scottish pub in Hong Kong.”
“They’re having Scottish entertainment during the day and plenty of Scottish food and drink as the punters take in the results as they come in,” Kay said via social media message yesterday.
Results from the vote are scheduled to trickle in through the night, with Edinburgh and Glasgow, the largest cities, among the last to post results. That gives early risers the time to catch some of the drama after a night’s sleep.
“Our portfolio managers and myself will come in early on Sept. 19,” said Salman Ahmed, a global strategist at Lombard Odier Investment Managers in London. “I will be in round 5:30 a.m. instead of my normal start at 8 a.m. While my view is still that it will be a ‘no’ vote, the contingency plan is to deal with volatility in the case of ‘yes’ vote. All the big banks operate in 24-hour cycles so it’s likely we may have to deal with their people in Wellington or Sydney. You would expect them to be fully prepared for this event.”