Physical trading houses - Traffic/Ops role sucks your soul.

Sorry in advance for the rant: 

Been working at a major trading house (think traf etc) and so far my experience hasn't been so great. I've been getting railed by upper management for continuously making small mistakes. Work has stressed me out to the point where I've been dreaming about not accidentally fucking up tasks in my sleep. Been doing my best to take all of it in but there's just so much to learn that it NEVER ENDS. If I ask too many questions they start judging me and tell me to "think hard and figure it out" and when I do this, and make a fuck up, they will say "why didn't you ask us? you seem very lost". I've been getting worked like a dog and they expect me to grasp concepts as if you have a photographic memory. Upper management is comparing me to other team members that are high performers + they'll call you out in large meetings to embarrass you and further kill your self-esteem. On top of that, the training I receive from other team members is absolute shit (assuming since everyone is trying to reach the trading seat and do it on purpose). I am a bit conflicted now as to what direction I should be going. So, I have some questions: 

  1. Is this just how the corporate world is? 

  2. Working for a smaller firm a better Idea?

  3. Is busting your ass in a role like this only to one day get lucky and become a trader really worth it?

Ty for reading

Comments (12)

Most Helpful
Jul 6, 2022 - 4:05am
UnfinishedSentenc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Tell us what you mean by small mistakes.

Moreover, try to not stress much about it. I have had juniors who have screwed up massively, it's all part of the learning curve. It will be clear to everyone you cannot handle the pressure if you let it take control. If you f*** up then ensure it doesn't happen again, the principal being you should have learnt not to put your hand on a hot stove twice.

Now as for trading shops, you don't get clear guidance or training. It's sink or swim, especially in Trafi. People are not being unhelpful, they are most likely too busy to even consider to help you. Therefore if you ask a question don't expect to be hand held all the way.

Before you ask your boss, think it through thoroughly. I'd like to add its modern age computing, you can either figure it out by google or ask your counterparties. Counterparties being (not your buyers/sellers, obviously), but your brokers, agents, production/terminal operators what they think would work. Form an opinion, go to your boss, explain the problem, present a proposal.

1 of 2 things will happen. 1 - get screwed for presenting a dumb idea, or 2 - he/she/they will agree and say go with it. But they won't be a good leader if they don't provide you with an answer or solution to proceed.

FWIW, this is what I expect from my colleagues if they come to me with a problem. No cookies for entitled kids who expect things on a silver platter.

Jul 7, 2022 - 3:56am
DeltaDecay, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Bruh Trafi is a shit place to work at in Ops (sorry to the guys who are from Trafi and in Ops). They do not have a structure and my dealing with their ops made it clear that not a lot of training is provided. So much so it makes me feel it is like a sweat shop.

The good thing is it will look good in your CV. You will never be moved from Ops to Trading at Trafi so you need to decide if you want to remain there long term. Ops is shitty i agree. But if you have a good team it helps out a lot.

Jul 23, 2022 - 4:08pm
icebarragei, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've noticed this too. These companies don't really have structured training methods, it's more-so old-school where they'll just talk about a concept for an hour straight and expect you to retain all that information. Previous companies i worked with had a 'mentor/buddy' system where you could essentially job shadow the person. 

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  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Other
Jul 7, 2022 - 2:17pm

A little bit "part of the grind", a little bit "take the time to really learn things" and a little bit "your mentors need to take a more active role with you". 

The best decisions I made during my time on my trading desk were the times I took the extra 5-10 minutes after finishing a new / unfamiliar / challenging task to write down how and WHY I did what I did in a mini manual I created for myself. Not only did it contextualize my work and help me better understand what I was doing, but it also enabled me to know exactly what I needed to do the next time I did it. When you fuck up without guidance, it's easy to throw up your hands and say "well no one told me". But unfortunately life isn't fair, no one will walk you through things, and you need to instead spend that time writing notes on exactly what happened, how you screwed up, what you did to fix, etc. 

I was a pretty shitty analyst when I started in markets because I didn't know how to learn. It took time to earn my team's trust after a rough start but I turned things around, and I feel like my team is really starting to recognize my effort. That can happen for you too, but in order to get there you need to get the mundane shit down pat. 

Impressions are hard to change but they are not impossible. Keep on grinding man, there's light at the end of this tunnel, you just need to put in the work. 

Jul 7, 2022 - 2:50pm
CharlieBuckeroo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Second that. I document every task and also run through a checklist for all the daily operational stuff I'm expected to do and by what time. MS OneNote is very helpful for this, no need for a photographic memory when it's all a click away. BBG time alerts help too in case I get too busy and forget.

Jul 23, 2022 - 4:05pm
icebarragei, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Good advice. This is precisely what I've been doing now - making a daily work log of every challenge I have faced and each question I've asked. It has helped me tremendously as I'm able to keep track of the 1000 things that are going on simultaneously. And I agree no one's going to give two shits since it's a player-versus-player environment. 

Jul 23, 2022 - 11:00pm
oil_quant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is why culture to me is so important when thinking about jobs.  The bonus check you forget about 2 weeks after it's paid out.  But the people you work with can make every day less or more enjoyable.  

But to answer your questions, it's not how the corporate world or even commodities trading has to be.  You might want to try finding a good analyst role.  I was rather fortunate to find a situation where I was starting the analytics function, and the creative aspects were really fun.  It wasn't easy of course, but doing something original and accomplishing things you genuinely wanted to get done felt really rewarding.  And once the work became commercially relevant to the point where it was guiding the positions, I was basically encouraged to become a trader if I wanted.  No yelling, micromanaging, or rat racing involved.  

Jul 24, 2022 - 9:46pm
GoodBread, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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