AS Southend bids for city status, a small corner of Westcliff already resembles part of the City of London.

Coastal Futures is a City-style trading floor, occupied by a group of young financial dealers who wanted to spend less time commuting and more time living their lives.

Danny Hodgson, who set up the private limited company this year, says: “I was working long hours in London. Add that to the time and strain of commuting and it doesn’t leave much time to do anything else with your life, except sleep.

“But technology means there’s basically no reason why we have to operate from the City of London any more. We can just as easily work closer to home, and cut out the need to commute.”

Key to Coastal Futures’s effectiveness is the installation of a high-speed ethernet cable, which enables the Westcliff traders to buy and sell in periods measured by a fraction of a second.

The cable costs more than £20,000 a year to rent and maintain. “But it’s cost-effective,” says Danny. “Speed is all-important and it gives us a competitive edge.”

There are ten traders on the floor, which fills one storey of a Chalkwell Park office block.

Danny says: “We’re always looking for more of the right sort of person to join us. It would be nice to expand to the point where we can move to bigger premises, and then on to other sites in other towns.”

Traders are self-employed, but share facilities.

Danny explains: “We all work independently, but we all help each other and benefit from each other’s advice.

“There is a great sense of camaraderie and mutual support. We all want each other to be successful.”

All the Coastal traders live in the Southend, Leigh or Benfleet areas.

Danny says: “Working locally means there’s time in the afternoon to go to the gym, play squash or tennis, and pick the kids up from school.

“But the improved lifestyle isn’t at the expense of earning power. The money is the same. We’ve simply taken the wealth out of London and put it into Southend instead.”