The recently-passed financial regulatory reform law is having its desired effect – banks are dumping their proprietary trading desks. The new law contains the Volcker rule, named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, which restricts banks from proprietary trading and sets new limits on the size of private equity or hedge fund investments. In its wake, up to five JPMorgan Chase proprietary metals traders in London left the company this week, including former Sempra trader Tim Jones.
Earlier in the week, the bank told proprietary commodity traders — who bet on commodities with the bank’s own money — that their desk would shut down to comply with new U.S. banking laws. The bank will shutter its proprietary-trading desks and has notified those desks’ employees that their jobs are being cut.
Tim Jones, who headed the proprietary metals trading team according to sources, was a former managing director at RBS Sempra Commodities that was bought by JPMorgan in February of this year. Sources said the other four traders worked on Jones’ trading team.
JPMorgan joins a long line of banks/prime brokers that are changing their trading businesses to comply with the Volcker rule, part of a broader financial reform law that limits the extent to which banks can bet with their own capital. Goldman Sachs Group Inc for example, is looking at turning its proprietary equity trading unit into a hedge fund.
The latest move may increase concerns within banks that they could lose traders to hedge funds and trading houses that are not bound by the new rules.Banks have time to comply with the law, but many are eager to figure out how to deal with the business soon, before traders jump ship.
Sources did not say where Jones’ trading team was headed. A spokeswoman at JPMorgan declined to comment.
The departures are the latest following the takeover by JPMorgan of RBS Sempra Commodities. In July, JPMorgan cut between 40 and 50 commodity trading jobs to remove overlap at the firm. They were primarily from its energy trading arm with the majority of the cuts in London.
The bank’s commodity team is believed to have lost well over $100 million in a disastrous coal deal during the second quarter, traders dealing with JPMorgan said in June. The bank raised its commodity trading risk in the second quarter for the first time in nine months, but earned less from the sector as prices fell, the company’s results showed earlier this year.
JPMorgan agreed to buy RBS Sempra Commodities’ non-U.S. businesses in February, including global oil, metals, coal and European power and gas businesses. The acquisition was completed at the start of July. The $1.6 billion takeover gave JPMorgan physical access to new markets around the world, with 26 locations in more than 10 countries and more than 130 storage and warehousing facilities.