Taking the Floor
Models, Morals, and Management in a Wall Street Trading Room
Debates about financial reform have led to the recognition that a healthy financial system doesn’t depend solely on how it is structured—organizational culture matters as well. Based on extensive research in a Wall Street derivatives-trading room, Taking the Floor considers how the culture of financial organizations might change in order for them to remain healthy, even in times of crises. In particular, Daniel Beunza explores how the extensive use of financial models and trading technologies over the recent decades has exerted a far-ranging and troubling influence on Wall Street. How have models reshaped financial markets? How have models altered moral behavior in organizations?
Beunza takes readers behind the scenes in a bank unit that, within its firm, is widely perceived to be “a class act,” and he considers how this trading room unit might serve as a blueprint solution for the ills of Wall Street’s unsustainable culture. Beunza demonstrates that the integration of traders across desks reduces the danger of blind spots created by models. Warning against the risk of moral disengagement posed by the use of models, he also contends that such disengagement could be avoided by instituting moral norms and social relations.
Providing a unique perspective on a complex subject, Taking the Floor profiles what an effective, responsible trading room can and should look like.
Daniel Beunza is an associate professor in the Cass Business School at City, University of London.