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May 26, 2005

Straddles, Fish and Chips

By Gregory Bresiger

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  • Straddles, Fish and Chips
  • Page 2

It's eight o'clock in the morning on a typical business day. Two unconventional people are beginning work in an ancient London apartment in U.K. David and Anna Coulling, who have been married for 30 years, are a unique trading couple. Not too many married couples worked together at a fish and chips shop and later dabbled in trading. Not too many couples have a wife who runs a contract lighting company part-time. Not too many couples work at home together as full-time traders. Not too many couples operate out of a former medical institution that dates back to the Victorian Era.

"We work from home, which is a flat in a converted Victorian mental hospital - very appropriate," quips David, a British citizen who is part Swiss. He was trained as a civil engineer. But he now trades options, concentrating on puts and straddles.

His wife, the former Anna Colafrancesco, is multi-lingual. She was born near Rome in Italy. She moved to Scotland with her family when she was three. The family settled on a farm but later relocated to London. She trades currencies. The couple have just both turned 50. They have a daughter, Sarah, 21. The Coullings decided on currencies and options because they believe international time differences create opportunities for U.K. investors.

Before making a commitment to trading, the Coulling's career history was all over the map. It included corporate work, computer sales, language instruction and six years helping to run a fish and chips store owned by Anna's mother in the East End of London. "This was an experience in itself," joshes David. The shop was sold last year and Anna's mother retired.

It's a long way from fish and chips to puts and calls. But an avocation for the Coullings eventually became their profession. They became involved in trading because they were private investors for several years. They had been trading together part-time since the mid-1990s.

Initially, the pair used a buy and hold strategy, buying and selling through the U.K. market. Later they tried index futures. But the Coullings became frustrated with some of the trading practices of the U.K. markets, including open outcry.

The Coullings complained that, under this system, by the time an order had been filled on the floor, prices had often moved several points. They used stop loss instruments to limit damage, but they concluded that the U.K. market was biased in favor of institutions.

'We work from a flat in a converted mental hospital.'

David Coulling