What are you doing after the bell?

Amy Scott Sep 22, 2006

By Marketplace’s Amy Scott

KAI RYSSDAL: It pays to be specific if you’re looking for love online. Hoping for a Jewish soulmate tonight . . . Rosh Hashannah? Try J-Date. Maybe you’d like to meet a fellow dog lover. Well, then, datemypet.com is the place for you. Whether you’re a vegan, an Ivy League grad or an activist, there is a dating service out there for you. So we hope it’s not a big surprise that Wall Street has a site all its own. Whether you’re a trader or just looking for one. Marketplace’s Amy Scott checked it out.

AMY SCOTT: It takes a certain kind of guy to do what Mike Ball does all day. He sits in a San Francisco office staring at an array of flat-screen panels, betting thousands of dollars on tiny fluctuations in the derivatives markets.

MIKE BALL: And it looks like I have really good chance of losing right now.

Ball is one of a breed of adrenaline-fueled, often fabulously wealthy — and usually male — traders. So when he heard about Trader Dater, an online dating site, he gave it a shot.

BALL: In this profession, it’s easy to get obsessed, I think, with the market. So yeah, I was really hoping to meet someone who could identify with what it is that I’m doing.

Oh they could identify all right. With the money.

BALL: There were no bones about it. I was questioned on what kinds of markets I trade, what kind of profitability are you looking at? I felt like I was being audited.

Ball wasn’t really surprised. As the site declares on its home page, Trader Dater was built “exclusively for women interested in meeting professional traders.” And it’s run by the publishers of Trader Monthly, a glossy magazine that celebrates the money, the toys, and yes, the babes that accompany the trading lifestyle.

Users are asked to list their “personal assets,” describe their best trades, and rate themselves in financial terms — like “high yield investment” or “calculated risk.” Instead of a mug shot on his profile, one trader shows a picture of his private jet. AMY RICHARDSON: No, he does not. That’s so lame.Amy Richardson has not been impressed by her experience on Trader Dater. She works in retail in Chicago, and says she posted a profile as a joke. She did meet a friend through the site. But he and his friends only convinced her she’d never want to date a trader.

RICHARDSON: They’re this weird mix of the sort of macho, very competitive scene, sort of mixed with the whole metrosexual, you know, who’s got better jeans on, who paid the most for their shoes. And to hear them talk about it, the way they talk about girls, I just . . . forget it. No way. No thanks.

Mike Ball, the derivatives trader, knows exactly what she’s talking about.

BALL: At one of the hip and trendy restaurants you’ll have this group of guys that are easily identifiable by their dress, their talk. They’re paying for drinks for the entire bar. And definitely a certain type of female is going to go after that like a moth to the flame.

What type of female? A survey of Trader Dater’s profiles gives you a sense. Many of them read like any other personal ads: people seeking great conversation, a soul mate, or just sex. For those really serious about finding love, Trader Dater sends them to a person known as Wall Street’s matchmaker.

JANIS SPINDEL: Yeah, I know. The goal is to get you down the aisle. Let me know what happens after you meet her.

At a restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Janis Spindel chats on her cell phone with a client. She claims to have set up 758 marriages in the last 12 years. And she charges her male clients as much as $100,000 to do it.

RICHARDSON: Shut your mouth, that is ridiculous.

Again, Amy Richardson. It is pretty mind-boggling. But Spindel says the traders and hedge fund managers and investment bankers she deals with can afford it.

SPINDEL: I think what sets the whole Wall Street mentality apart is: A) the bonuses; B) the money. They just get what they want, they’re used to getting what they want. If they get deals and they close deals left and right, they want their women to sort of be the same way.

And don’t think Spindel has any shortage of women to set them up with. Hundreds of them from all over the country pay anywhere from zero to $1,000 for a spot in Spindel’s Rolodex.

In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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