COMMENT: I saw juniors fainting with stress and exhaustion on the trading floor

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COMMENT: I saw juniors fainting with stress and exhaustion on the trading floor

Working in the banking sector can be stressful and exhausting. Managers are demanding, and so are clients. Both expect a high level attention at all times, and when you're new to the industry providing that can seem impossible. 

When I was an analyst on the trading floor of a large U.S. bank, my stress levels were always high. I usually worked 11 hour days, often more, and I saw the job and the lifestyle take its toll on my friends and colleagues. Regularly, at least twice a year, people would leave their screens and faint as they walked across the floor. It always caused panic - we would try to look after them until the ambulance came. There were also frequent tantrums, with people smashing their computer mice against their desks. And there were disappearances - suddenly, people would just leave. 

I stuck with it, but in retrospect I can see there are things I should have done differently to make my life a lot easier. If you're a junior who's struggling with the pace today, I suggest you try implementing the changes below.  

1. Never procrastinate. If you're expected to write up call reports after your meetings, get them done right away. If you don't, they will mount up and rule your life.

2. Try not to overwhelm yourself with back-to-back meetings.  Meetings create work; every meeting has follow-up meetings. At times, I had three or four meetings every day. I worked in sales and this was a problem - I couldn't respond to my clients promptly because I was always involved in a meeting with colleagues and this was a source of stress.

3. When you're on holiday, be properly on holiday. Go away for two weeks and don't check your emails. Unless you’re contacted by a colleague you need to completely disconnect from work when you’re away. Before you start your trip switch off the notifications of emails on your phone. You have little to lose - if you’re highly regarded at work, your employer will simply realize how much you're needed there.

4. Try to avoid taking a phone with your corporate emails on holiday. - This is another step up, but it works. Chances are that you will at some point get an email from your manager or your colleagues in Asia or the U.S.. If you don't have your phone on holiday, you won't see it.

5. Drink less coffee. When I first started, I used to drink four or five coffees a day. Apart from your morning coffee, drinking more during the day will take a toll on you (read up on the side effects of coffee). A few years ago I cut out coffee completely now and I wish I had done that during my early days in banking.

6. Go to a gym close to your home. I loved the idea that my building had a gym, but when I thought about it in more detail I realised that I was spending 12 hours a day on my desk and then I’d head down to the gym, totaling 13-14 hours a day with the same people. Ultimately I found it much more reviving to get out of the finance environment altogether and to go to a gym near home. 

7. Don't stick with something that is making you unhappy or unhealthy. If you are unhappy in your job, you will pay the price eventually mentally. Not only will it affect you, but also your family and friends. It's not worth it.

Su Min is a pseuodnym

Photo by Freshh Connection on Unsplash

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available.

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