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Monday, September 23, 2013

A day in the life of a sales & trading intern

An intern from the finance-interns community, blogs about his typical day as a sales & trading intern 

5.30 am – Turn off the alarm and sleepily make my way down to the train station.
6.10 am – Jump on the DLR to work, it’s early but at least you get a seat!
6.45 am – Arrive at the office.  I would ordinarily try to arrive before the rest of the team in order to prepare for the morning meeting and get the various documents needed ready so that everyone is set up for the rest of the day. Also spend a bit of time checking Bloomberg, FT and Reuters for the overnight headline news.
7.20 am – The morning meeting is a global conference call initiated by the Head of Trading in order to bring the desk up to speed with the market movements that occurred overnight. The Asian offices often provide this information. Then the London Research and Strategy team outlines their opinions of the market and their forecasts of key data being released during London trading hours.
8 am – As I worked on a Foreign Exchange (FX) Sales and Trading desk, a market that is open 24 hours a day, the London office would ask the other offices around the world to provide liquidity to clients during the night. This risk taken by the overseas offices needs to be transferred to the London office, via a process called Back-to-Back trade execution.  My role as an intern encompassed ensuring that these deals were inputted into the system. The number of these deals that needed to be inputted varied on a day-to-day basis. Consequently, sometimes it would take a couple of hours; sometimes it would be only a few minutes.
9.30 am – Now was the time to nip out and grab some breakfast as normally this was a brief lull in the day as the market had often already executed the deals that would allow them to hold the trading position for the day.
10 am – My role also involved executing the daily fixes on Non-Deliverable Forward trades. These deals are USD exchanges for traditionally illiquid currencies such as Korean Won, Chilean Peso, Brazilian Real and Russian Rouble to name a few. Due to the illiquid nature of the markets, it means that large volume trades could have a significant impact on the exchange rate of the currency versus the US Dollar. As a result the Central Bank of each of these nations fixes the exchange rate on the currency pair in order to ensure that the exchange rate doesn’t spiral out of control. My responsibility was to apply the fixing rate to each trade once I have accessed the published rate on Thomson Reuters.
11 am – Often I would try to do a lot of reading and research because the trading floor often has high periods of activity but can often, particularly on US Public Holidays be exceptionally quiet. Therefore, I would often speak to the various people on the floor, both Middle office and Front Office in order to hear their thoughts on the market as well as reading the Research publications that would be sent out by the In-House Research team. I personally found that the Trading floor was the perfect place to build and develop my knowledge of the Sales and Trading component of Investment Banking as it provided you with so many sources of quality information.
12.30 pm – It’s about half way through the day now, probably a good time to go and grab some lunch. Often it would involve grabbing some lunch for the Traders, because if it was a particularly volatile day then they might be unable to leave their desk in order to react and maintain a positive P+L.
1.30 pm – Every month would be the ECB Monetary Policy announcement. With the turbulent nature of the Eurozone area in the last couple of years, during my internship this was often the most important announcement and the TV sets on the trading floor and desk were all tuned into Bloomberg to listen to any statements Mario Draghi (the ECB president) would make giving an insight into the potential future policy decisions of the ECB.
2 pm – A key aspect of my role revolved around correcting any booking errors that would mean that my firm was unable to confirm and match off the trade details we have in our system with those details being confirmed by the counterparty. As a result, Back Office would inform me of the incorrect deals, I would then liaise with the Salesperson or Trader who executed the deal in order to find out if we were correct or incorrect. If we were incorrect then I would be charged with the responsibility of changing the details on the trade. This meant I had to be highly accurate as any amendments I made that were in correct would lead to a misrepresented Profit & Loss figure shown in their dealing book. Therefore, it was of the utmost importance that I was 100% accurate. Furthermore, any errors I made meant I was just creating more work for myself!
5 pm – Once the orders could be passed to the US office, because traditional London trading hours had now come to an end, it meant I could begin my end of day checks; including checking my trades had been input into the system correctly and ensuring there were no trades that were mismatching.

6 pm – Typically I would try to be one of the last people in the office, ensuring that I had checked with Middle Office and Back Office and that there was nothing outstanding that needed my immediate attention. If I got the all clear, it was time to head home for the evening and get ready for another early start in the morning!