THE BRAIN drain from the City’s leading banks has started, as The Capitalist can reveal traders at JP Morgan Chase, RBS, UBS and Lloyds have gone behind bosses’ backs to apply to a hedge fund that promises to make them millionaires within a year.

The deserting bankers are on the shortlist for Mike Baghdady’s Trading Places-style contest to find the next-generation of hedge fund stars – as first reported in this column on 14 April – where the 20 winners will be given a full-time job at Baghdady’s firm Training Traders.

If the traders are successful, they could manage £10m of funds within 12 months, taking up to 40 per cent of the profits. You do the maths.

The lure of the cash is so strong that a TV producer is willing to drop a ten-year career at the BBC, and a restaurateur is drafting his P45 for his job with one of the UK’s top chefs.

The final 40 will now undergo a series of psychological tests set by Edna Agbartha, who cut her teeth doing psychological profiles for RBS, to check whether they are able to cope with the financial pressure.

Baghdady is happy to promote the “great story” of the former pit trader hoping to make a comeback after falling on taxi-driving hard times, but refuses to reveal the full names of his would-be millionaires.

Not because he was cycling along Bond Street on a Boris Bike as he spoke to The Capitalist, you understand, but because he doesn’t want to attract the attentions of “every financial headhunter in town”.

Not to mention the wrath of JP Morgan, RBS, Lloyds and UBS bosses when they discover their star employees are heading for the door…

THERE was only one possible outcome when Max Hastings opened an online NatWest trading account: hysterical laughter from his banker friends.

As part of a DIY investment masterclass for Prospect magazine, the former Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard editor set about mimicking the shareholdings of an experienced private investor, but soon became embroiled in a “nightmare game of snakes and ladders”, calling the helpline twice during each transaction.

Hastings intends to persevere with his online trading experiment. In his heart, however, he knows that innumerates like himself are “doomed to remain prisoners of the banks and financial advisers, who will continue systematically to skin us alive”.

MEANWHILE, The Capitalist is pleased to have helped Ratidzo Chinyuku fulfil her ambition of becoming a lawyer, after City A.M.’s 12 April story on Martin Winter’s work in her home country of Zimbabwe inspired her to write to the Taylor Wessing partner asking to be considered for a work placement.

Impressed by the year-ten student’s resourcefulness – “how many 17 year-olds do you know who read financial newspapers?” – Winter has offered Chinyuku an informal work placement shadowing at his offices for two weeks from 25 July this summer.