Interview Insights - Sales & Trading Analyst

Interview Insights is a series of interviews that we conduct with junior staff across major banks and other firms with the hope of providing job-seekers with first-hand information on what each role entails. The interviews are conducted on an anonymous basis so that the interviewees can share their thoughts freely.

1. For the benefit of the audience, could you give an introduction to your current role?

I work under the global-markets/securities division in an Asia office of a bulge bracket bank, specifically the SPG (Synthetic Products Group) trading desk.

Access into the Asia markets is relatively complex, be it operational or regulatory complications. Our desk acts as a one stop shop which allows for clients to synthetically access and invest in these markets.

In a nutshell, my job is to manage risk and PnL of our desk’s portfolios, maintain the platform for our clients, and advise on client queries ranging from corporate actions to market execution.

2. What is your average day like?

Work starts at 7:00 each day and typically ends at 18:40

Although markets open at 8am, there are a lot of items to be checked off before the exchange bell rings. These could be answering overnight emails from US-based clients, checking inventory/quota, submitting corporate action elections, etc.

Once markets open, as cliche as it sounds, there isn’t really an average day; our desk is more reactive than proactive. We would have to respond to any queries be it coming from the sales traders or clients themselves. We would also need to work with our middle office to process corporate actions, swap amendment requests, funding requests, etc.

When nothing is outstanding (although this is rarely the case), we would be working on individual projects. This can be any part of the desk process which you feel can be improved. Upside of this is that you’re free to choose any facet of the desk’s role which you have particular interest in and dive deeper into the inner workings of it. Previous projects I’ve worked on include the processing of company’s rights on convertible bond issuances, and china connect inventory management.

Once the market closes, we would strike FX for clients who would like to settle in USD and proceed with our end of day sign off. This is the critical process each day where we ensure that there is no unexplained delta on our books.

3. How did you land this role?

Honestly, as a freshman I wasn’t entirely sure of what job I could see myself in. With the time I had, I decided to just try various roles out ranging from startups, consulting, and even corporate banking. Eventually when I landed a summer internship in a Sales & Trading role, I found myself enjoying the energy of the trading floor and the personalities of the colleagues I interacted with.

Understanding of the different desks, the roles they played, and their day-to-day equipped me for further interviews, in which one of them landed my current role.

4. Is there anything about your interview process that you think would be good for applicants to know?

I’d say that it’s quite important to have an understanding of the details and day-to-day of the role you’re applying for. It’s easy to say that you’re interested in sales and trading. However, there are dozens of different desks on the trading floor, each serving different functions for the business, each having very different roles, and each requiring different skill sets.

If you are able to specify a specific desk on the floor and have an understanding of their role, this would easily set you apart from most other applicants; one way to have this understanding is to start networking.

5. How was your internship experience different from working full time?

As interns are not licensed by the regulator, I’d describe the internship experience as a long-form interview. Tasks assigned were to test us on how well we can understand concepts and processes critical to the desk, and most importantly, whether we truly enjoy the role. Managers would judge us on the two items above based on the questions we ask, content we generate, and interactions with the rest of the team and floor.

As a full time analyst, we are allowed to speak to clients, trade in the market, and take on risk if necessary. However I feel that the biggest change is the type of questions I’ve started asking. If questions asked during the internship was to understand the business, the questions asked by an analyst are expected to be those questioning and suggesting improvements to the current desk process.

6. What do you want to do long term?

As of now, I’d love to stay and progress further in my current role - even the directors in my team see something new each week or so be it regulatory changes, increasing demands from clients due to competition/innovation, or trends in company financing.

I’m grateful that I don’t have an excessive amount of stress, along with a great manager and team. So long as this is so, I can see myself on the trading floor for the next few years.

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