zoonabar via flickrThe centre of the financial universe is undoubtedly New York City, but that doesn’t mean every trader lives and works there.
A substantial chunk of the financial services industry considers the West Coast the best coast, despite the three hour time difference.
That time difference, however, affects a trader’s work life and social life.
We spoke to a trader who has experience trading in New York, Las Vegas and California to explain how life is different, and in many ways better, for a West Coast trader.
That's because a lot West Coast traders tend to trade from home.
'We're already three hours behind our east coast brethren and we can't give away any more edge in terms of getting in front of our trading screens. A commute would totally kill that.'
Of course, there are some traders on the West Coast that have to commute as well as those that work at financial services firms there, too.
'Because we trade from home, most of us trade in our workout clothes and dress very casually. New York traders tend to have dress clothes.'
'A number of us have our trading screens near our beds, so that we can check the status of the markets early in the morning anywhere from 4 to 5 a.m. Pacific Time.'
'Not only are we three hours behind New York, but we're eight hours behind London.'
'West Coast traders spend the evening preparing for the next trading day whereas East Coast traders can arrive early in the morning and read all the research and do that stuff when they come in.'
'West Coast traders have an edge trading Asia, while East Coast traders have an edge trading Europe.'
'Gold, in particular, can be very active in the Asian session,' the trader explained. ' For a commodities trader on the west coast, while you may have to wake up early in the morning you also have advantages trading the Asian session.'
For example, our trader was awake at 9:45 p.m. PT when the Fukushima earthquake took place in Japan. As a result, he said he was able to trade the Yen, the S&P and fixed income products, while most East Coast traders were probably already asleep at that time.
While East Coast traders workout before they get to their desks, West Coast traders can still get their morning workout after they're finished trading.
'A lot of traders trade between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. and trade until 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. At that point, if the market has settled down, it's a good time to head to the gym as we may be possibly done for the day.'
The stock market closes at 1 p.m. on the West Coast.
That means a trader in California may take a power nap, hit the beach or go shopping without the big crowds.
When our trader source was in Vegas, he would segue his focus from the markets to betting on the night's sporting events.
'I was born to speculate. Taking on risk is an organic process for me,' he says.
'You're often in bed at 9 p.m. whereas East Coast traders can go out and party. And that's a big deal, but there's no way as a West Coast trader you're going out to a club or a dinner until the wee hours of the morning. It's hard to conceive going out late and being able to effectively trade the markets early the following morning.'
The trader said dating on the East Coast is different.
'That's because you obviously don't have to be in bed so early. You have a lot more flexibility on going out and meeting people on week nights. You have to tend to go to bed earlier on the West Coast and that carries into your social life as well.'
However, West Coast traders have the afternoons, though.
'West Coast traders can run game in the afternoons when the markets are closed.'