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Informal; the imposed lack of communication between the investment banking and brokerage services of a financial institution. The Chinese wall exists in order to prevent brokers and investment bankers working for the same company from deliberately or accidentally sharing inside information that could lead to illegal insider trading. The Chinese wall protects both the financial institution at large and the individual investment bankers and brokers.
An imaginary separation placed between a brokerage firm's investment banking business and its trading and retail business. A Chinese wall prevents investment bankers who frequently are privy to information that could substantially influence the price of a client's securities from leaking that information to the firm's traders and sales personnel. The exchange of such information is legally prohibited.