Launch a trading firm, expand international and conquer the world. That’s the idea. Both Optiver and IMC followed this approach and profits soared. Especially at IMC, the majority of the profits come from their Chicago office.

So far the good news. Expanding abroad can be a struggle. A good trader isn’t necessary a perfect manager. Around half a dozen traders left Optiver Australia in 2006, and created a new firm called Fuck The Dutch. That’s a subtle indication how they felt about their former employer from Holland. After a while re-branded to “Tibra”. Smooth.

That was in the good old pre-Amsterdamtrader days. Would have a been quite a story. Fast forward to 2011.

Yanks against the Dutch at IMC

Hold your horses, no rebels at IMC leaving the building yet. However, giving the sack to a popular trader sparked unrest among a part of the American traders last weeks. Profits are fine, the morale is not.  An anonymous mail hit the inboxes Friday morning November 4th, and after a while managed to reach this website. The headcount at IMC Chicago is approximately 150. Of course it’s not exactly clear how many of the employees share the sentiment in the mail they received. There are valid reasons for using anonymous mails, but they aren’t the most reliable source of information. However, been able to check a thing or two and people confirmed this isn’t just a one-man-opinion.

Managers are bastards (all of them) who hand out the wrong bonus to the wrong traders (every year). That’s their job, and traders should complain (every year). Nothing new here, it has always been this way. What’s new here are the country lines along which the troubles between management (Dutch) and the traders (American) are fought.

It doesn’t look pretty, here’s an abstract of the mail:

You have heard that the morale in Chicago office is low and it’s all because of the class system that has been put in gaff which has the Yanks going against the Dutch. The main cause of this is Ivo but he’s supported by Robin in this so both of em hold the majority of the fault.

Other managers (..) push the traders to take the unethical road and most of the traders are too afraid to speak up. This creates a bleedin’ high risk and horrible environment to work in. Glad that the SEC has a whistle blower policy which several traders have talked about using. They would go to Robin but they know he will protect the other members of the Dutch inner circle. That’s why nobody wants to come to em when they have issues. They just leave as five traders in ATG have done over the past six months. They were so nackered of this class system where certain people who are Dutch or supported by Dutch can get away with anything whilst the rest are treated as fancy cack. They were nackered of constant push to do illegal things. But of course you will hear other stories from the management on why there’s such a high turnover in the group. Now ATG’s short of smashing traders and you have a high risk bad example person running a strategy for which a smashing man was sacked. 

Cultural sensitivity is absent from the Dutch. They come to USA where they make fun of our culture, our way of life, our music, our people, our methods, our laws. If you hate it here, get on a KLM back to y’r country.

Only you can stop this fraternity atmosphere created in this gaff by the Dutch. As long as they treat people fancy shite and take advantage of their position, people will keep to expose the truth because no one will listen otherwise and this behaviour will continue. Please help us and hear our pleas. The reputation of IMC is at stake here. Do something to help us. Learn the truth of what is happening in Chicago.”

Whut? Illegal things and pushing for the unethical road? Another hard-hitting Hammer at work, whacking the oil? Doesn’t sound very likely after witnessing the other Dutch market maker Optiver suffering heavily from the CFTC. But you’d better believe they have got full attention now of all compliance officers IMC headquarters can find.

Some fact checking revealed that some details are exaggerated, i.e. only three traders left voluntarily instead of five. The original mail included some more uncertain views and allegations,  driven probably by resentment. However, the core of the message is plain simple. There’s a feeling a class system is at work, with the Dutch inner circle and their close friends responsible for a low morale.

Sources confirmed the issue of the  Yanks going against the Dutch is a widely held opinion in the Sears tower. Everyone is too afraid to say anything. Seems our Dutchies are defending their positions properly – while being outnumbered by the Americans around them. Guess we should send in our cavalry.