Brutus, whilst not universally admired, surely got it right when, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, he claimed that there was a “tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fame and fortune”.
It felt like that in 1980 when a handful of young, able
people brought together by the irrepressible John Barkshire got
together to work out how to build a financial futures exchange
in London. Within a remarkably short time, the eight-man
working party, all of whom had day jobs, had appointed an
executive and together they designed contracts, created a rule
book, built a trading floor and developed a membership: an
astonishing achievement given there was no precedent in Europe,
almost no familiarity with the concept of financial futures and
indeed some growling opposition from certain established City
Clearly, we shared a sense that financial futures would find
a place in Europe. London has always been an important centre
for markets. Commodities, insurance, shipping, for example,
were priced, traded and risk managed from London since the
industrial revolution accelerated world trade. But the flood
tide of change in this case was the rapid expansion of
de-regulated financial markets.
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