2.08.2022

What Does That Even Mean?

I am sure at your work there are certain words and phrases that are specific to your industry or group or line of business. When running, we definitely have things we say that are foreign to a non-runner (for example: negative splits, aid stations, pacer, tailwind, drafting). At work there are also some where I am not sure where they came from but if you have been in the business for a while, you will use them. I sometimes forget when there is a new person that they have no idea what I am talking about, and I have accidentally used some of the phrases in my personal life, where all I get is a puzzled look. 

When I used to work at Nordstrom, people who were going out for a cigarette break would say that they were going for a two-and-two. It came from Chuck Woolery and the Love Connection (a commercial break lasted two minutes and two seconds), but it was so often used that they would also just flash their manager a peace sign/piss off sign on their way out the door and the manager would know where they were going. 

I am going to loop you in to some of my current work slang so that the next time I throw one of these phrases out, you will know what the heck I am talking about. 

Color: Information. We often need information about a specific company or industry or a bond, etc. and we would call up someone on the research team or a trading desk and we would ask them if they could give us some "color" on that item. Or they may come to us to offer us color. If there is a new item they think we should look at or buy or sell, they would call us and say that they have this item and here is the color on it. 

Dry Powder: Cash on hand. Let's say you have an investment account with Apple, Amazon, Best Buy and also you have some cash. The cash would be called dry powder, as it is available (dry and ready) to spend. I believe this came from when you had to use powder in your musket or cannon and it was imperative that you keep it dry (i.e. ready to use). 

Ack: Acknowledged. I don't think this is industry related, but a colleague of mine started using it to respond to pings (instant messages) and it stuck! Now whether verbal or written, if someone gives you a task or tells you something, we always "ack" to show that we heard them loud and clear. This is one that I accidentally responded to my brother in a text message, so now it has spread wider than just my work group! 

Knock-on effect: Domino effect. This is the effect where one action indirectly causes another. This is not specific to finance, but I have heard it a lot in my industry, as in the markets and the economy one action can definitely be linked to or can cause others. 

De minimis: So small that it is not worthy of attention. The first time I heard this, I thought the person meant to say "minimal," but de minimis is its own word! If you have to pay an extra one cent for a one million dollar investment, you may say that it was de mimimis. 

Peri passu: Basically the same ranking. In Latin, this means "equal footing," but in the bond world it usually means that the bond has the same rank or will be treated equally in the case of a default. 

Fungible: Interchangeable. Nope, we are not talking about mushrooms here. Although I guess you could say that a Portabello is fungible, since you could replace it with a Bello. Actually, since last year, more people have probably gotten more familiar with this word through all the news of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). Basically it just means that something can be replaced or substituted by something else and in the bond world usually describes two bonds that are essentially the same except for maybe a maturity date, so they could be swapped out with little effect. 

There are many more of these but I will save them for another post. 

What weird phrases, acronyms or terms do you use in your work life or for a specific hobby? 

1 comment:

  1. I knew all of these except ack! I can see how that is useful, though. Our industry is so jargony but it's hard to think about what is jargon when you use it for so long. One thing that comes to mind is 40 Act. We use that jargon to talk about mutual funds that are subject to a 1940 regulation but I couldn't even tell you what the name of the regulation is or what it specifically means. It's just a short hand way to refer to funds.

    Another phrase that was used more on the sell side was to say "I have no bid for that" meaning no interest. We would use it to talk about things unrelated to work, though. Like someone wants to go to X restaurant to grab lunch and I'd say "I have no bid for that" if I didn't like the restaurant. Phil HATES that phrase for some reason, though!

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