I'm an equity derivatives trader at a major investment bank. I'm on the analyst program after joining full time this summer. My experience of trading my own account as a student was absolutely critical to me getting this job.
It's become increasingly common for young people to have their own brokerage accounts through apps like Robinhood. However, a lot of people think that having a Robinhood account will help them get a trading job in a bank and this isn't necessarily the case - in my experience, trading your own account can help, but only if you approach it in the right way.
I made it very clear throughout my applications to bank that I wasn't a retail trader and that as a trader I had a process. I wasn't trading the hype and I wasn't just going after bitcoin and GameStop. I'm a macro top down trader: I follow the major economic themes and I added a bottom-up analysis of single stocks and timed my trades using technical analysis.
This is very different to how a lot of young retail traders operate. They typically read a lot of charts and that's all. They also chase the popular stocks.
My trades were instead focused around U.S. materials and industrials stocks, as these are the stocks for which the most information is available. I traded currencies too. I had some huge Excel sheets where I'd do my analysis.
I taught myself a lot of this using YouTube, but I also attended courses run by the former Goldman Sachs trader Anton Kreil, which gave me a foundation and helped me to organize my strategy. It meant that when I went into interviews for trading jobs at banks, I was able to differentiate myself from the other students who mostly had a retail banking mindset.
At one point, I thought that I might just become a trader rather than getting a job in a bank, but I decided that it makes sense to have a big brand behind you. You need the big name on your CV and if you work for a bank, you can earn money and potentially trade your own account later on.
Right now, I'm rotating in equity derivatives sales. I'm exposed to the markets every day and speak to professional investors constantly, but it's a very different experience to trading my own account. If I want to implement what I've learned in a professional environment, I'll probably need to move to a special situations group or hedge fund, but I'm in no rush to do that for the moment.
Dylan Bourcier is a pseudonym
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
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