Ex-traders are reinventing themselves as expert witnesses
If you've spent your working life on the trading floor, glued to a Bloomberg terminal, you may not feel especially equipped to do anything else. However, not all ex-traders disappear into obscurity or burn their settlements working for fintech unicorns. Some find gainful re-employment on their own terms - as expert witnesses.
"We are always interested in hiring, and actively hiring, new expert witnesses because our caseload changes constantly," says Saul Haydon Rowe, one of many "experts" at witness firm Turing Experts. "I think we are the biggest hirer of part-time senior bankers in London."
Haydon Rowe worked in credit trading at Salomon Brothers (now Citi), BNP Paribas and Nomura between 1989 and 2000. He's been an expert witness since 2003 and isn't the only one - Turing has six other witnesses listed on its website and Rowe says there are many more besides. "We generally look for managing director/partner level bankers, quants or fund specialists," he says. Turing has 20 consultants in total, including Paul Varnavides, a former director of UK equity marketing at J.P. Morgan Cazenove, James Dolman, a former equity research analyst at UBS, and Babak Eftekhari, former head of emerging markets trading at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Turing's witnesses provide expertise in the sorts of court cases that make headlines across the world. Its list of cases include the mis-sale of interest rate swaps, mis-priced CDOs, compliance errors, and the mis-selling of complex structured products to high net worth investors.
"Every single expert finds the work intensely interesting as it uses all the skills they acquired in banking or finance, set in the different context of dispute resolution or litigation," says Rowe. "Everyday concepts you used for years in banking suddenly look different when they are examined in minute detail and you have to summarise to a non-banker why they are acceptable, or possibly unacceptable."
It's not just the "intensely interesting" work. For former traders who've spent years glued to the market, working as an expert witness also offers some important life flexibility. "It gives you the freedom to do other things as well. You can use at it as part of a portfolio of work. It is very good way of staying close to the industry whilst not working full-time in it," says one ex-trader, speaking off the record.
The downside is, possibly, the pay. "People work for us mainly because of the intellectual stimulation, and payment is a secondary factor. It’s decent, without being “large hedge fund bonus” numbers," says Haydon Rowe.