A 20-something trader says trading is a career that attracts intelligent, under-privileged students

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Preparing to become corporate brokers

Preparing to become corporate brokers (Photo credit: fiverlocker)

We’re a little late with this: the latest instalment of the Guardian’s excellent banking blog appeared a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, it remains relevant and interesting if you happen to be a university student who’s thinking of working as a trader in an investment bank, so we’re pulling out the best bits.


This is what an anonymous trader in his mid-20s said about what life is really like on the trading floor.


1. It’s not M&A but you still have to work LONG and HARD


“I see the guy next to me, a young father in his early 30s. He gets in around 6.30am and doesn't get out until seven or eight in the evening. I hear him talk on the phone to his children three times a day. That is his contact with them."


2.  It’s all men


"Virtually all male, like an army."


3. Trading is for bright, under-privileged students. Wealthy students go into law


"More and more people on the trading floor are university graduates with a degree in maths. Quite a few are Oxbridge educated, though rarely the privileged kind. Many are from poor backgrounds, with photos of their children on their desks. They tell me it's to remind them why they are working so hard; so their kids can do whatever they want."


4.  The trading floor is an amazing, but addictive, place to work


What makes the job great is the energy and the efficiency. My computer breaks down and gets fixed in minutes. You write an email, hit send and bang, there's the reply. I suppose that's the trade-off. What makes such a wired environment great also makes it exhausting. The people are great too, personable, bright, snappy. A lot of regular guys who simply want to get ahead in life. And there's the feeling of being in touch with the world, feeling part of that world. All these screens with rolling news, the Bloomberg terminals where you see the markets move in real time … To be disconnected from all that … In a way that would be like unplugging from the Matrix."