The London Metal Exchange. Picture: REUTERS
The London Metal Exchange. Picture: REUTERS

London — The London Metal Exchange (LME) is toughening its stance on alcohol consumption with new rules that will prohibit floor traders from drinking during the workday, according to people familiar with the matter.

In a meeting on Thursday, the LME told its open-outcry dealers that it expects them to apply a zero-tolerance alcohol policy for floor traders, who are responsible for setting global benchmark prices for industrial metals such as copper and aluminum, the people said, asking not to be identified as the meeting was private. The exchange could impose fines and trading bans for breaches of the rules, they said.

“The LME has broad powers under its rule book to ensure fit and proper behaviour,” the exchange said in a statement. “The LME appreciates the high standards upheld by its members, and has formalised the general position that ring-based personnel should not consume any alcohol prior to conducting business.”

While the LME already bars dealers from engaging in drunken behaviour on the floor, the policy would go further to break an association with heavy drinking that stretches back to the bourse’s origins in Victorian times.

Nigel Farage, who started his career on the trading floor before making his move into politics, has often recounted details of his booze-fueled exploits during his career in the City, helping to perpetuate the image of the hard-drinking metals trader. Farage now leads the Brexit party, which aims to take the UK out of the EU without waiting to negotiate a deal.

The LME and many member firms have sought to clean up the industry’s reputation. In April, the exchange added rules that prohibit members from holding sleazy parties at venues such as lap-dancing clubs and casinos under a new code of conduct.

The ban follows on from a similar zero-tolerance policy announced by Lloyd’s of London in the wake of reporting by Bloomberg Businessweek that revealed a deep-seated culture of sexual misconduct in the UK capital’s insurance market.

Prior to an office move in 2016, the LME was located on the same road as LLoyd’s, and metals traders often frequented the same pubs as Lloyd’s dealers in the city’s historic Leadenhall Market.

Bloomberg