A day in the life of...

..a trader

A day on a trading floor is never the same, some days are extremely busy, others are quiet, depending on what's happening in financial markets. This is just an example of how a working day of a sales analyst can be:

6.00-7.30: As most people working on a trading floor I get up early. First thing I do when I wake up is to check the Blackberry if any significant news came out. Many of my colleagues go to the office-gym early in the morning, I usually go for a swim in a nearby pool to wake up and get my mind cleared.

8.00-8.30: I arrive at my desk, get some breakfast and check the top news items on Bloomberg, Reuters and the FT whilst chatting to colleagues. My clients are corporates based in Europe, who tend to be active a bit later than the hedge fund/asset manager clients. Therefore I start later than my colleagues who cover the latter. Some clients have already specified on the day before what they might be interested in to trade, which I put in my agenda, and I discuss this with the traders.

8.30-11.00: Subsequently, throughout the morning, clients will call, e-mail or send instant messages asking about the news, what activity we are seeing in the market, and most importantly, trade requests. People on the trading floor sit just an arms length from each other. This means that when a client is looking to trade the derivatives I sell, I price it up using our pricing models whilst shouting to the trader, who sits a couple of meters away from me, what my client is seeking to do. The trader shows me a tradable price on which the client hopefully trades. If so, I book the trade, confirm over the telephone tapes with my client what we just did and move on to the next trade.

11.00-12.00: As European corporates prefer to have a lunch break, and given the time difference, I tend to have an hour or so during which I can catch up on administrative issues and to discuss projects that I'm working on with colleagues (i.e. traders, legal, quantitative research).

12.00-17.00: Clients are back from their lunch break and the earlier described routine repeats itself. If it's not too busy, I quickly get lunch outside the office to catch some air, otherwise I get it in the canteen. Around 1-2pm, as New York wakes up, activity picks up and this is usually the time most of my clients trade.

17.00-19.30: Although the markets in my asset class close around 7pm UK time, client flows pretty much disappear after 5pm. After 5, I try to sort out all the administrative issues that have arisen over the day and evaluate the significant trade requests of that day with the traders and my manager to see where we can improve. The atmosphere on the desk is much more relaxed now, and many colleagues have casual chats on a variety of topics. I typically leave at 7.30pm, sometimes to meet a client, at other times to have a quick drink in the pub with colleagues.

 

..an i-banker – Corporate Finance division

Life as an investment banker in the Corporate Finance division is not for the faint hearted. Long working hours and a competitive environment are part of the job. Here is an example of how a working day of a M&A analyst can look like:

7.00-8.30: I am woken up by my alarm, but decide to hit the snooze button for one time. After 5 minutes I really have to get up to brush my teeth and to go to the gym at my apartment complex for a quick workout. After a workout of 30 minutes it’s time to get ready to go to the office. My BlackBerry shows a blinking red light. Already received six emails of clients and colleagues. Luckily most of them can be answered quickly.

9.00-10.00: Arriving at the office after a short trip with the tube, I first get some coffee, a sandwich and update my to-do list for the day. After lunching at my desk I have a call with a packaging company that is to be acquired, discussing their last information memorandum.

10.00-13.00: Working on a company profile I have some help from the other side of the world. In Bangalore, India’s outsourcing hub, someone is putting together a list of profits, employees, office locations and other valuable information for me. In the meanwhile I sit down with two analysts to review valuation materials prepared the previous day.

13.00-13.30: Have lunch with a VP across the street (his advise: ‘’when possible, you should try to lunch outside, because analysts don’t get to see the sun a lot’’).

13.30-17.00: After a conference call with a client and lawyers to discuss some important details of a deal, I check and revise the valuation materials and a pitch book made by other analysts.

17.00-19.00: I work on a list of Dutch companies and check in with my contact in Bangalore.

19.00-20.00: Ordered some food by making use of the meal allowance, after which I meet with a VP before he leaves for home. To a certain extent the outcome of this meeting is predictable: additional work has to be finished by me that evening.

20.00-22.00: Dropping off a pitch book to the department which processes the documents. On my way back I quickly go for a snack.

23.30: Finishing up the work, and calling for a cab.