25 old-school pranks that Wall Streeters used to pull on the trading floor

It’s April Fools’ Day in the US and you can be almost certain that some pranks and jokes will be pulled on Wall Street.

But the pranks are nothing like they used to be.

If you ever get the chance to speak to a veteran floor trader (you really should) the’ll probably tell you about the amazing sense of camaraderie on the floor and the epic pranks they used to pull on each other.

“Every joke was invented down there,” a retired NYSE specialist said.

“I always tell people that it was like being in a fraternity. The biggest jokes that were played on new workers and even better when companies had their clients come to visit were the spurs, an arrow on their backs. When the arrow (which was made of paper) was placed on their back everyone would do a tribal dance and chants. The customers had no idea what was going on, it was comical,” a former NYMEX clerk told us.

However, the humour has subsided in recent years since some of the exchanges are publicly traded and have more eyes and television cameras on them. What’s more is the futures pits in Chicago are closing this summer.

“Fortunately, or unfortunately, you don’t see those pranks anymore,” another veteran floor trader told Business Insider.

Veteran traders both in New York and Chicago from the NYSE, CBOT, NYMEX and AMEX told us about some of the classic pranks and jokes they used to pull back in the day.

* If you have another trading floor prank, joke or story you would like to share, please send Julia an email at [email protected]

If you were being annoying, they'd duct tape you to a chair and throw you in an elevator and push all of the buttons.

Location: NYSE

The Prank: One long-time NYSE floor broker told us that they would duct tape an 'irritating personality' to a chair, place him in an elevator and press all of the floor buttons.

Traders would ink or paint a newbie's phone receiver.

Location: NYSE

The Prank: Traders would either ink or paint the phone receiver so that one's ear would turn black.

They'd also tell the newbies to go find a 'left handed phone.'

Location: NYMEX

The Prank: At the NYMEX, they would tell new workers to go and find a left handed phone.

Apparently, some people fell for it...

Sometimes it was funny to shoulder tap your boss just to tick him off a bit.

Location: CBOT

The Prank: 'My favourite was the shoulder tap,' a trader told us. 'You would stand on the left and tap on the right shoulder and then look away. The person would say 'who's tapping me?''

The trader said he had a boss who never appreciated it and would swear at him.

NYSE traders would also attach toy cars on long strings to other traders' mesh jackets.

Location: NYSE

The Prank: A lot of the floor traders wear mesh jackets and those tiny holes are really convenient for attaching things.

A popular trick was to take a long piece of string attached to a paperclip. At the end of the the 15-foot long piece a string was a toy car.

A trader would sneak up behind another person and attach it to their jacket. The result would be that the trader was wheeling around a little toy car without even realising it.

A trader taped a bunch of straws together to blow cigarette smoke in his nemesis' booth.

Location: AMEX

The Prank: 'I worked in a booth and had a contentious relationship with a broker two booths back. I couldn't stand the guy. One day, I was in my booth and smelled cigarette smoke. I was far enough away from the hallway where they permitted smoking not to smell it, so I couldn't understand why I kept smelling cigarette smoke. My nemesis had taken several drinking straws and taped them together so that the end was at my booth. He blew cigarette smoke into this long straw and the smoke billowed out of the last straw at my booth. It was creative, I'll give him that.'

One time a group of traders made another trader think he had won the lottery.

Location: NYSE

The Prank: This is not a floor prank tradition, but a trader told us this one guy used to play the lottery religiously so they decided to mess with him a bit.

The lottery playing trader kept a stack of tickets and a paper.

One day some traders took his newspaper and they played Saturday's numbers and put it in his stack so he appeared to have the winning lottery numbers.

'The guy thought he won the lottery until he looked at the date on the ticket!'

Naturally, he was disappointed.

CBOT traders used to pull off the 'classic' shark fin in the pit prank.

Location: CBOT

The Prank: Veteran traders from the CBOT told Business Insider that they would take a trading card, or two, and fold it into the shape of a fin. Then they had to carefully slide it under someone's collar so it looked like they had a fin on their back. Then everyone would scream 'SHARK!'

'This was a tough one,' a trader told us explaining you had to have very dexterous hands. 'They would be pissed if they caught you.'

'It's a classic,' another trader said.

Speaking of paper cutouts, who could ever forget the infamous 'Who put this d*** on my back?' prank pulled off by a CBOT trader in 2007. Enjoy!

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Now let's see what they really do when they're not pranking each other...

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