London Metal Exchange bans traders from drinking during work hours

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Traders and clerks at work at the London Metal Exchange. Photo: Paul Hackett/ Getty Images

Traders working at the London Metal Exchange will no longer be able to drink alcohol during working hours, in its latest attempt to ensure “fit and proper behaviour” is observed within its famous red ring of couches.

The exchange, whose mostly male traders shout bids across its circular trading floor, has long been criticised for its macho culture and long, boozy lunches.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the 142-year-old exchange, which is considered the world's largest venue for trading metals derivatives, said that it had now “formalised” its position that ring-based personnel “should not consume any alcohol prior to conducting business.”

The exchange already forbids drunken behaviour on its trading floor.

The spokesperson noted that the exchange has “broad powers” under its rulebook to ensure that staff conduct themselves appropriately.

The move follows the exchange’s launch of its first-ever code of conduct in April, which advised staff that events, including those run by third parties, should not take place at venues that “could make some market participants uncomfortable in attending.”

It had come under fire last year for an event hosted by the Gerald Group at the Playboy Club in London’s affluent Mayfair district, held during the exchange’s annual week-long gathering.

MPs called it “inappropriate” and a “spectacularly bad choice.”

Notably, Brexit party leader Nigel Farage has reminisced about his alcohol-fueled time as a metals trader before he entered politics.

The London Metal Exchange remains one of the last “open outcry” trading floors in the world. Brokers shout prices and use hand signals at each other in five-minute bursts across its trading floor, which is lined with red couches.

In May, the exchange appointed its first-ever female chair. City of London veteran Gay Huey Evans will take over from Sir Brian Bender when he steps down in December.