The author of this article works as a prop trader for a securities firm in an emerging market. With a Bachelor in Engineering, he started out as a financial engineer whose job was to develop VBA applications to back test trading strategies for a senior trader.
Three months into the job, the trader left and was promoted to run his own trading book. He has been trading over a year since. Here is a day in his life. SHARE YOUR STORY
6.15 – Clock alarm sounds. Immediately press snooze button
6.30 – Hear the alarm again and get up. An extra 15 minutes of sleep has been gained.
7.00 – Leave the house for office downtown
8.00 – Have a breakfast at a small diner next to my office building
8.20 – Arrive at the office
8.30 – Check e-mail, read news on Reuters and Bloomberg, and check out what happen in the world last night
8.45 – Briefly discuss the markets with other traders
9.00 – Download data and run my own VBA trading application
9.10 – Check data feed for correctness. I find that some data are not published correctly, so I call IT department to fix it.
9.30 – Casinos open. Monitor current positions as well as wait for the trading signal from my model to open or close the position. Index arbitrage, ETF arbitrage, inter-market arbitrage, pairs trading, calendar trading, arbitrage between warrants and their underlying stocks are strategies that I currently employ.
10.00 – After I am confident that my trading application and the data feed run smoothly, I spend my time to either revise the current model or develop a new model. I highly recommend Ernest Chan’s Quantitative Trading: How to Build Your Own Algorithmic Trading Business
10.30 – I pause researching for a moment because my trading application issues an alarm for me to cut loss the position that I opened yesterday. Hesitate for few seconds before executing the cut loss order and subsequently think about changing my job to pursue a career that can give me more job stability and less stress. Note that, I execute the order by myself since we are still emerging here. Anyway, it is fine for me as I trade in low-mid frequency.
11.15 – Make bet (open a new position) on another strategy according to the model
12.00 – Go to lunch with my teammates, sadly, all of them are men
12.40 – Back to the office and check out what happen during lunch time and update the data on my trading application
13.00 – Telephone rings in the trading room. Our boss asks one of my teammates to meet him in his room.
13.20 – My teammate, who has been working as a junior discretionary trader for half years, comes back to the trading room after finish talking with the boss. He first says that he will not be here anymore and then reveals that the boss pressures him to move to another department in back office but my teammate refuses. In other word, he is sacked. Thrilled! Who will be the next? Again, think about my career choices.
13.30 – Casinos resume. I do mostly the same as the first part of the day, which is sometimes quite boring because I have covered most of trading strategies that can be utilized in my country, where they lack of sophisticated financial products. This may also mean that there is limited opportunity to make $$$.
13.31 – Quickly think about getting an MFE to fulfil my intellectual thirst. Meanwhile, the junior trader is collecting his personal stuff.
14.00 – My almost ex-teammate goes to talk with HR
14.30 – Fortunately, this afternoon I have closed the position with profit.
15.00 – Say good bye to my ex-teammate. Still, I don’t know how much he costs the firm.
16.00 – All casinos that I cover are now closed. Check out what happen in each regional market and how Europe markets open.
16.15 – Review all of my trading activities today and make sure that I book the correct position on my trading application.
16.30 – Submit a trading summary report and prepare for a quarterly meeting with management committee in the next 15 minutes.
16.45 – Attend the meeting, where a trading performance is discussed. Some market outlooks are exchanged.
17.30 – Finish the meeting. Before going home, I pick up my annual medical test results. I find that some results are not good as they exceed the normal limits. I think I should have exercised and relaxed more.
17.35 – Go home by bus. (I choose to go home by bus rather than a helicopter since I do not want to finish my story like Nero Tulip*)
18.00 – Think about pursuing an MFE while travelling on the bus. Ask my self the following: Suppose I finish an MFE, can join a global top-tier investment bank/hedge fund, and obtain a lot of $$$, will it make me happier?
*Editorial note: Nero Tulip is a character in Nassim Taleb’s “Fooled by Randomness“. Some have suggested that Nero Tulip is Taleb’s portray of himself. References on “Nero Tulip” can be found through Google Books here.