1986- The Youngest Blue Button with James Capel & Co

7 04 2008

They Needed the Tazmanian Devil

At a young age I had always dreamed of working on the London Stock Exchange as a Blue Button (runner). I used to jump school and head up on the underground just to watch all the hype and buzz of the trading floor (which closed in 1986). I knew that with my energy and my crazy love for a fast paced work environment that this would be my home.

I obtained a members book and immediately began writing to all the member firms. I actually wrote about 220 hand written letters, posted them and waited eagerly for all the replies to drop from the letter box of my family home. I had no degrees and only had B,C and D grade CSE’s ad O Level’s and in fact was an average student that always played the fool at school but was always liked. I was the a sixer in my local cub pack, a school house captain and was liked for my fairness by many people.

  It seemed days before i received my first letter, which i ripped open with great excitement, my hands sweating and my heart thumping so loud that it sounded like the drums from Jungle Book. I was expecting Bagheera to jump out of the letter and grab me!

Well all i got was “Sorry we only accept Graduates, however, we will keep your CV on file for future reference” I was mortified, Graduates only! Wait till they get a load of me. After about 120 replies all saying the same thing i realised that i would not be able to get a job using this method.

I retrained my energy toward recruitment agencies and immediately started to send my CV out to the top City placement firms. I managed to secure some interviews and impressed the agencies and finally i had an interview with Chase Manhattan Securities…….. the interview well …….. it just did not happen. I got in there and froze like a Birds Eye Pea! I knew that i would not be offered the job, because i could not answer any question without being shy and withdrawn- of course they would not have recruited me! They needed the Tazmanian Devil instead got a quiet Monk..

After 5 interviews, my hope was beginning to fade. I even applied for a post room position and thought i could work my way up only to be told that my aspirations were way too high for someone who wanted to work in the post room.


I was taking a maths exam at school and a teacher came in and said your mum said i had to leave. I had received two short notice interviews, one for 1pm and one for 2pm..

I left school ran home and put on my best suit and tie (Burton’s i guess at the time but i thought i looked good) and headed up on the Underground to Liverpool Street – First stop Nat West Bank…. By now i had nothing to loose. While in the waiting room i looked around at the nervous competition and thought “they don’t stand a chance this job is mine”. I interviewed for about an hour and if i don’t mind saying so, i blew this guys socks off and no sooner as i had finished the interview i knew that i had the job! The usual “We will contact you later” words came from the interviewers mouth and i thanked him then immediately ran to 3 Bevis Marks, next stop James Capel & Co owned by HSBC.

No competition this time and in i went first i saw HR and she said “I need to get someone else to see you” I then saw a trading Director and he said ” I need to get someone else in to see you”……… after what seemed a lifetime a monster opened the door called Barry Collins and oh my god i think i shit myself. I have never seen or felt such a presence…. I almost thought he was going to say “Obi One never told you who is your father….. I AM YOUR FATHER”….now i know what presence is all about! This guy put me through the pace’s but i did not take my eyes off of him even though i had just wet myself LOL……. during the interview he was asking various questions and all of a sudden he said “WHAT’S 9 TIMES 19” and i answered without hesitation 171……… Do you know to this day i do not know where i got the answer from, perhaps divine intervention, perhaps i was so scared he would strike me down with his light sabre that i just got it right….. the words came once more “We will contact you later”….

The train journey home was perhaps one of the longest of my life. I thought to myself what else do i have to do to get a job! I was desperately low and had gone through over 200 hand written letters, 10 interviews,  the post room and top line agencies……… Perhaps i was not destined for the Stock Market after all?

The Long Journey Home

I left the station and walked up the steep hill towards my home. I was embarrassed to have to tell my family that i had failed and that i would not become a Blue Button….

I creaked down the side gate of our house and proceeded sheepishly to open the back door. To my surprise and shock my parents and my sisters were sitting around the kitchen table with a bottle of champagne and 5 glasses……..

My mum said that both the companies had called, i was expecting the worst “YOU GOT OFFERED BOTH JOBS SHE SAID” at this point i burst out in tears and collapsed on the floor… one job offered me a £7500 start and one job offered me a £5500 start…… I accept the job that offered me £5500 start but had much better prospects. I was the youngest person ever to serve as a Blue Button the Convertible Bonds Floor…..

Dreams to Reality




One response

2 03 2011
Tony Brookes

Hi Bradley, I feel like I am in the same situation as you were in. Do you have any advice for me. I was a professional footballer with West Ham United until last July when I had to make the decision to retire because I had 3 very serious ankle injuries. I have always been interested in the stock markets and knew whilst I was young I had to try to get my foot in the door. I have sent hand-written letters to companies all over london looking for any role available to get my foot in the door and applied to various recruitment agencies. I have had a few interviews and each one of them have said I am perfect for the job I just need the exams. I am studying for the FSA Unit 1 exam from home now so hopefully after I pass I will have more opporutnity with jobs. Is there any advice you can give me of any companies I could try. I am very bright I was extremely good at school and passed all of my GCSE’s, I am used to being in a fast paced environment and used to a male dominant environment.

I feel like I am going down a blind alley.

If you can help me I’d be very greatful with anything you can suggest to me.

Many Thanks,

Tony Brookes

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