We all know Jérôme Kerviel, the trader who, from one day to the next, went from anonymity to being the most searched for name online in 2008... The thirty-one-year-old financial market operator, whose risk-taking could have toppled the Société Générale bank, or even the world financial system... The man sentenced two years later to five years in prison, three of which he had to serve, and who was handed the heaviest penalty ever given to an individual: 4.9 billion euros.
The "SocGen" chain of command claims to have not known about Kerviel's trades. However, the junior trader was flying high. At the end of 2007, backed up by figures, he had earned Société Générale 1 billion and a half euros over the preceding year - an unprecedented event in the bank's history in the financial market. At this time, Kerviel was a huge success story. A "hot earner," a "cash machine," as he was nicknamed by his colleagues.
He was young, he had a presence... he was the one who everyone envied on the trading floor where traders worked, touted by a hierarchy whose mottos are: "You win, I win," or "Who can do more, can do even more."
We know Kerviel… but we know nothing about Jérôme. Nobody could have predicted that the young Breton would manage to become a trader. Jérôme was born in 1977 in a banal fishing village in Finistère. A quiet teenager, he led an ordinary life with his brother and his parents, a loving, hard-working couple. He achieved decent grades and his studies led to a Master of Finance.
He was recruited in 2000 by the Société Générale, and posted to the middle office, recording the orders passed by prestigious traders working in the mythical trading room, considered at the time as the best in the world when it came to financial derivatives.
Jérôme Kerviel entered by the back door, but soon earned his stripes and his place by learning quickly. Very quickly.