If you’re pushing on a door and that door really won’t open, sometimes there’s only one alternative: you need to push another door instead. This is what I’ve learned about my finance career in 2016.
I’m a credit trader. Since leaving university, I’ve spent my time making markets in bonds. In my trading last role, I was a director in sales trading, working across a range of products. Then I lost my job. And now? Now, I work in risk.
This isn’t something I’d intended to happen. I knew being out of the market would be hard, but I still thought I’d be able to move into another trading role within six months. I was fussy. I had offers to move into broking but I turned them all down; they were commission-only and broking seemed a risky option with volumes so low. Besides, I was a trader.
Initially, I was unwilling to compromise. I hung on, applying for trading jobs. I sent out CVs. I heard nothing. I sent out more CVs; still nothing. I began to feel that the market was against me – this was before the EU referendum and hiring managers were holding their breath. It became obvious that finding a job was going to be a lot harder than I’d expected.
And so, I did what you should all do when no one wants what you have to offer: I capitulated. I stopped trying to be a trader and I started trying to be a risk manager.
Suddenly, doors opened.
The fact is, there are far more opportunities now for risk managers than there are for traders. Risk is a growing area; trading is not. The job security is better in risk and the opportunities for career progression are more numerous. I’m not even paid badly – salaries in risk are high, although the bonuses here are startlingly poor.
Working in risk isn’t perfect (I’m a trader goddammit), but it is work. Risk doesn’t seem my natural home, although I am starting to think I could maybe make a career here. My front office colleagues – who know my background, treat me with more respect than other members of our risk team, so I do at least have some advantages. Yes, I’m frustrated – I miss the interaction on the trading floor and I’m not a decision maker any more, which is hard to get used to. Banks are hierarchical places and suddenly I’m a few rungs lower down. It’s weird seeing people do my old job. I feel like a footballer who’s stuck in the stands, watching.
Even so, at least I’m near the pitch. I could be sitting at home, sending out CVs, wondering when and if someone will respond. If your CV is ignored, the best thing you can do is to take a long hard look at reality. Don’t blame recruiters for failing to respond; don’t blame the market for not wanting your skills – repackage your experience into something the market will want. Go with it, you never know where it will take you.
Arturo Martinez is the pseudonym of a senior fixed income trading in London who’s currently (maybe permanently) working in risk