Invited To Stay At The Trading Floor; How To Impress The Traders?

morra's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 30

I killed it so hard in an interview for a hybrid MO-FO role in Fixed Income Sales, that I got told by the VP for the area that I would get bored there, and that he wanted me in a more pure FO role. At first, I was disappointed that I didn't get a position there, but at the same time, this is an opportunity to do exactly what I want, which is pure S&T.

The VP invited me next week to "stay a couple of days at the floor to see if there is a match".

So my question is for people who are currently in S&T, when I go onto the floor next week, how do I make such a good impression that they would want me around?

Of course, asking intelligent questions and knowing the products relatively well is a given. But is it at all possible to add value when you are just shadowing them? Or should I just try to aim for getting along with them?

Thanks and silver bananas in advance.

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Comments (21)

Best Response
Feb 7, 2018

What underlying asset is it about? And how old are you/ what experience do you have?

Be self-confident but not arrogant. No offense, but when I see "I killed it so hard in an interview" it looks like you are in the second category already.
You'll talk with guys who are probably trading for years so you can't expect to impress them if you have not traded before. Show that you could be an added value for them for X reasons, but don't teach them their jobs.

Also, I noticed that one thing does matter in S&T (which is also true for many other areas): networking. You can be the most skilled guy on earth, if you don't have a good feeling with the team they won't hire you. Find a good balance between being serious at work and drinking beers with those guys in the weekend.

    • 4
Feb 13, 2018

Thank you for your answer, really good points in there.

Not sure which specific desks I am going to be visiting, but I imagine IRS, Cov. Bonds, swaptions, so rates products. I am in my early 20s with 2 years in Market Risk and almost finished my undergrad in business/economics, half a year left.

No offense taken. I realize that it might seem like that, but it is my honest view on it, hard to portray my sincerity over text. I prepared thoroughly and could answer everything correctly that they threw at me. Never had an interview go that well.

Of course in interviews, and when I get to the floor, I am going to be extremely humble and express gratitude, as I always do.

Could you elaborate on "x reasons"?

Feb 7, 2018

X reasons are basically the reasons why the would hire you and not someone else:
Overall impression, how you got along with the trading desk guys
IT skills (excel/vba/coding)
Previous Experiences that gave you an in-depth knowledge on the product you want to trade (market risk is a good start to move to a trader seat later)
etc...

Take this opportunity quite seriously, it's not that easy to get a trader seat when you're young. And if you don't get it now, you'll have to work 2/3 extra years at a MO position that won't be exciting.

Feb 13, 2018

Isn't Market Risk a MO/BO Role? I thought traders do not like people from MO/BO

Feb 13, 2018

Where have you heard that from.

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Feb 13, 2018

From this forum itself. A lot of people have told that it is very difficult to move from MO/BO to FO because in MO/BO you're not taking risks.

People also mentioned that traders may think you've settled for an easier option by taking BO/MO role.

How true is that?

Feb 13, 2018

Trading and risk deal with a lot of the same things, so the transition isn't too insane. That said, they prefer their own tribesmen, but if you are smart and likeable, you have a shot.

Feb 13, 2018

That's BS - a lot of traders are picked from the middle office (not back as there is less interaction with trading so less of a seamless transition).
If you are hungry and eager you'll get bored in MO and when a spot opens the guys are more than happy to bring you on if you get along already and do a good job.

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Feb 7, 2018

i'm not FT but will be an intern this summer, but what i've noticed is that everyone on the floor is very personable. Everyone knows that everyone there is smart, so being relatable is best

Feb 13, 2018

Got it, thanks!

Feb 13, 2018

No one will be impressed by your intelligent questions or your "extensive" knowledge of the products.

Shadowing means you should not get in anyone's way, especially during open and close. Let them know you are available to do anything - which most likely will be stuff like fetching coffee or deliver term/redemption/etc. sheets to the secretary.

Bonus points: don't be a weirdo or a snowflake. They'll hire you based on fit and culture. If you got through the interview you're smart enough to be taught how to trade or sell.

    • 1
Feb 13, 2018

100% agree. Definitely will hire person i'd like to get a beer with versus math nerd although we are switching those types of cultures here at our firm.

Feb 13, 2018

Thanks for your input. Definitely going for that angle as I am certainly not a math geek. With that said, I don't want to just be staring at them doing their trading and not ask something as this doesn't show initiative. I'll show them that I can get what they need.

Feb 13, 2018

They probably have some sort of > for you to follow. I can't imagine them putting you on a chair next to a trader just to watch. You'll be given simple tasks and some senior guys will probably show you how their day usually is. It's better to ask follow-ups rather than interviewing people with questions like > or >. It's possible to show initiative without coming across as a try-hard over-achiever.

You seem like a normal guy. Do what you're asked and keep your cool. You'll be fine!

    • 1
Feb 13, 2018

PM me

Feb 13, 2018

actually go in with the exact opposite mindset- have no intentions to impress the traders. The best way to impress them is to show that youre normal and ask a few questions; honestly, I've found that older guys like the more general questions about their career/job than questions that are really just subtle ways to try and flex your finance muscles.

Feb 13, 2018

Sure, agree on the perspective on older/more senior guys. I think that is also what made the interview with the VPs go so well, that the focus was more career/history than pure technicals and fit.

Feb 13, 2018

Your number one goal is to get these people to like you.

I wouldn't ask any questions that don't seem normal in the flow of conversation, so I would say no "intelligent" questions, but no dumb ones either. I would basically just try to show these people you are someone they don't mind hanging out with, humble, and not trying too hard to show you are qualified. You made it there, so they already would imagine you know a good bit. Coming off as too knowledgeable would probably only have downsides.

You won't really add value in all likelihood so just focus on getting to know the people, try to build solid relationships with a few who might end up going to bat for you, and have none who want you axed. Good luck!

    • 1
Feb 13, 2018

Good advice, thanks!

Feb 13, 2018
Feb 13, 2018