We recently shared “22 Phrases Only Wall Streeters Will Understand”, which was basically an encyclopedia of some of the classic and unusual slang terms used by finance folks.
The thing about Wall Street, though, is that it’s incredibly diverse. There are the floor brokers, the pit traders, the investment bankers, the research analysts, the quants, the hedge funders and the private equity folks, just the name a few. That means not every group will understand all of those phrases.
We spoke to a former bond broker, who will remain anonymous, about the type of slang they use with each other.
Brokers tend to be a pretty colourful group as you can see with the slang that’s used below:
A piker is a guy without money. Brokers use it to identify crappy clients.
“That guy is a piker. He buys ten bonds–and calls me twice a day! I’m firing him as a client.”
This is the opposite of a piker.
Wall Street brokers don’t say “Whale” much because it makes you sound like a jerk, and guys in the know want to sound understated.
“What’s the story with Mr. Jones? Is this guy another piker?”
“Trust me: He’s a real guy.”
On a Bloomberg terminal, thinly traded bonds don’t always get a bid. They’re not like trading shares of big blue-chip stocks like IBM. You may get a price you don’t like on IBM, but you can always get a price. With bonds, sometimes the Bloomberg terminal would read NB — No Bid.
Bond brokers will use this in their everyday conversations.
“Come on dude. She’s my girlfriend’s roommate. It’s just one night.”
“Dude, no bid.”
Dog snot are the junkiest of junk bonds that nobody wants.
“I’m no bid on that tax dog snot.”
“Pick up the f——-g phones!”
The cold callers are dialling fast enough as it is. But when the head of the desk yells that in the middle of the day, it’s terrifying. Nobody wants to be the guy on the desk spacing out when the head yells “Pick up the f——-g phones!”
This is a classic. Bonds are traded on a YTM (Yield to Maturity) basis.
There are all kinds of other yields in the bond market. The most cynical acronym on earth is YTB — “Yield To Broker.”
Why? Well, when trading desks are pushing “dog snot” products the brokers will ask: “What’s the YTB?” When they do, they’re basically asking, “How much are you going to pay me to unload this crap into my clients account?”
If you pull that, you might get “dinged.”
Getting “dinged” is how brokers refer to FINRA sanctions.
If you get “dinged” one to many times of you aren’t making money for the desk someone will say this about you…
“Left the city, left the business.”
If somebody asks you about a broker you used to work with they might say, “Hey, what’s Mikey B. up to these days?”
The response is something like, “Left the city, left the business.”
That’s the worst thing that can be said about a broker. It’s like the broker died and he’s just gone. It means you don’t have a clue. In short, it means the guy is no longer part of our thing.
“X’s Cold Caller” or “X’s Connector”
When you’re a cold caller or connector (we’ve heard both), you don’t even get the dignity of having a name. People walk up to you and say, “Hey, David’s Cold Caller/Connector, go pick up my sandwich.”
“You’re Bob’s Cold Caller/Connector, right? What the heck are you doing just standing there? Help me carry this?”
“He just stepped off the desk”
When you call a trader who isn’t in and the guy who answers the phone says, “He just stepped off the desk” it’s a funny phrase because it means that he’s not in the only place in the world that matters — the trading desk.
Did he go to the men’s room? Is his wife in labour?
None of that matters. He’s just not on the desk and besides that what else matters?