Asset managers shocked at Bloomberg journalists monitoring clients' logins
Financial industry decries breach of privacy over journalists monitoring client login activity
Bloomberg's "mistake" of allowing its journalists to monitor clients' login activity on its trading information terminals has raised concerns in the financial world.
In Hong Kong, asset managers were aghast at the prospect of their investment record and personal information spilling outside their Bloomberg systems.
"I believe no investor would want their personal information to be exposed to outsiders. I hope Bloomberg will better protect my personal information," said Agnes Deng, head of Hong Kong-China equities at Baring Asset Management in Hong Kong.
Charles Mok, lawmaker for the IT sector, described Bloomberg journalists' access to their clients' information as an obvious "breach of privacy".
In April, Goldman Sachs complained after a Hong Kong-based Bloomberg reporter asked the bank about a partner's employment status. The reporter noted the person had not logged on to a terminal for some time.
Goldman said such information was sensitive and should not be seen by journalists. Its complaint prompted a public apology from Bloomberg's chief executive, Daniel Doctoroff, who said a mistake in its news-gathering policies had been corrected.
Yesterday, Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, the news arm of the global financial data and news provider, offered another apology in an article on Bloomberg.com
"Our client is right," he said. "Our reporters should not have access to any data considered proprietary. I am sorry they did. The error is inexcusable." He said Bloomberg journalists never had access "to look into clients' specific security information".
In Shanghai and Beijing, users of Bloomberg terminals expressed shock at Goldman's complaint. "It's scary," said Alma Yang, a portfolio manager at the mainland's home-grown Shenyin Wanguo Asset Management. "I chat with industry people and execute a lot of tradings on the Bloomberg terminal. Now I'll have to be more careful and may stop using its instant chatting function."
In Beijing, officials and researchers at the People's Bank of China and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, which manages China's US$3 trillion-plus forex reserves, said they were aware of the controversy but had not taken any action so far, partly because they needed more time to review the situation.
The US Federal Reserve has sought information about potential access by the news agency's reporters to data about users of Bloomberg terminals at the US central bank.
Additional reporting by Phila Siu, Jeanny Yu