The former London trader who witnessed first-hand the 2008 crash in Dubai

Jamie Lear went from the rough and tumble of trading floors in the City of London to policing traders here in Dubai, moving to the emirate in 2008, just before the financial crisis hit.

Jamie Lear, a currency trader turned director for Dubai Mercantile Exchange, enjoys his role as a mentor to colleagues in the emirates after years of experience in London. Antonie Robertson / The National
Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // The world was a different place when London financial trader Jamie Lear arrived in Dubai in 2008.
Although he had 18 years of experience in the high-pressured environment of global financial markets, nothing quite prepared him for that year's economic crisis.
Straight from university, Mr Lear, now 46, thrived in his early years as a raw 21-year-old trading on the London International Financial Futures Exchange.
Within five years, he had earned enough to become a "local" and to begin trading on his own terms.
In Dubai, he turned from poacher to gamekeeper, managing risk levels of other traders at the Dubai Professional Trading Group, and became chief executive in 2011.
Two years later, he moved to the Dubai Mercantile Exchange as director of customer relations, a position he holds today.
"At the LIFFE, you wore the livery of the company you worked for, almost like a jockey," said Mr Lear, who lives in The Springs.
"Your aim was to save enough from bonuses to represent yourself. I went from a student atmosphere, where everyone was friendly, to the City of London, where everyone was tough. It was a cut-throat environment.
"The first six months were pretty horrible, the next 10 years were pretty good."
Life as a trader was very different to that portrayed by Leonardo Di Caprio in Hollywood hit The Wolf of Wall Street.
The film recounts the career of Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker and his Stratton Oakmont firm's rampant corruption and fraud, which led to his downfall.
"Some of the antics portrayed in that film I have witnessed," Mr Lear said. "But it wasn't as crazy to me as it was to others. The numbers were almost irrelevant, it was what mattered to you at that time.
"A young trader could make £1 million (Dh5.7m) a day in 1992 over at the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, but that would be unusual.
"Most would be looking to make a few thousand pounds a day, but losses could easily reach £50,000 a day on occasion."
When the LIFFE floor closed in 2000, like 3,000 other traders, Mr Lear was out of a job. He set up trading in Gibraltar before returning to London to work for a Chicago-based trading firm.
An opportunity arose to work in Dubai in 2008, running the risk desk at the DPTG in Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
"It was good to change," he said. "I was taking care of the positional risk of 30 traders and it was an educational position, so I began teaching others.
"That is why they employed me, an ex-trader, to tell them what the traders are up to."
There is a golden rule in trading; no one can lose more than 10 per cent of their capital in a day. Those parameters change on a daily basis but they need to be in place to protect everyone.
If a trader has gone above their maximum loss that day, Mr Lear will ask them to leave the floor.
"The worst thing a trader can do is trade while they are angry or losing money," he said. "They can double that loss quickly.
"A tap on the shoulder to say you're a good trader, come back tomorrow, is sometimes all it needs. That is the best advice anyone gave me."
Despite the potential for huge gains and substantial losses, Mr Lear insists trading is nothing like gambling.
"If you are a good trader, you can win all the time. Traders have the advantage. You can go months without a losing day.
"In gambling, that is impossible. Traders are not gamblers - it is calculated risk management, with good techniques and strategies. There is no luck."
Just nine months after Mr Lear arrived in Dubai, global markets sunk into a deep financial crisis on a scale not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
It threatened the total collapse of large financial institutions, prevented only by the bailout of banks by national governments.
"Dubai suffered as much as anywhere else with the financial crisis, it just bounced back quicker," he said.
"It is extremely important for Dubai to have its own oil futures exchange and a strong financial structure," Mr Lear said. "You can cover three time zones in Dubai - that makes business easier. It is the perfect environment."