This week we heard from Kan Fung Li, a very experienced trader who was one of the very first graduates from the ICMA Centre in 1996.
Kan told us about his early days – he applied for 29 jobs unsuccessfully once he graduated, before securing a role at Standard Chartered. He also reflected on the role luck played in his career: he happened, almost by accident, to be positioned correctly to make money out of the Asian currency crisis in 1997, which earned him his reputation as trader.
His success can’t all have been down to luck though! Kan went on to be headhunted to set up and run trading desks at JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and BoAML, before moving into his current role as Managing Director at GAMA Private Asset Management.
Kan also gave us some real insights into life as a junior trader, including what the atmosphere on the trading floor is like, which parts of the business junior traders interact with, what responsibilities they have and what the hours are like (answer: long).
Typical Monday for a Junior Trader
|Sunday||Read news, research, clear emails, resolve trade queries & PnL reports||8-9am||Collate NDF & option expiry orders from internal and external|
|3am||Office before Wellington/Sydney open. Retrieve orders, collate and monitor||8-9am||Pass orders to relevant desk, traders, or place in broker market|
|3-6am||Update sales or customers order fills.
Retrieve cashflows & call counterparty to fund AUD, NZD. Quote and cover.
|9-12pm||Fill orders, notify sales and customers, trade entry, trade confirmation, refresh PnL and risk to senior trader|
|6-8am||Discover nearest Starbucks and McDonalds. Taxi or run while someone friendly covers you||9-12pm||Handle sales enquiries about levels (if allowed), update pricer and answer incoming calls|
|8am-9am||Fellow traders & sales arrive. Update relevant events or news. Prepare market commentary and levels.||9-12pm||Starbucks or tea run. Collect orders, collect money and give correct change. Hurry up|
|8-9am||Interbank commences. Shadow senior trader, blotter keeper, trade entry, broker confirmations, PnL refresh & notify risk positions||Before 12||Confirm all NDFs orders filled, or rolled, and expirations performed by operations. Verify trader risks correct, PnL correct.|
|Gather lunch orders before normal crowds build up. Remember dietary needs!!||4pm||Remaining FX markets except INR closes interbank|
|Lunchtime||Distribute lunch. Eat and catch up on emails and research. Nap? Gym? Probably not for a junior …||Pass orders & positions to London
Write end of day summary
|1-2pm||Type up morning trade summary for London sales; update levels and trading ranges. Trading ideas. SEND||Collect individual PnL; deal check with brokers; update risk spreadsheets|
|Mumbai markets open. Shadow or cover senior trader(s)
Daily Asia briefing to London sales
|5pm||Dial in for regional trading risk call chaired by Head of Trading. Take notes & orders|
|2pm||TWD, MYR, CNH, HK, IDR interbank market resumes. Shadow trader to input trades, check risks, reconcile||5:30-6pm||Gather economic events for T+1. Settle outstanding trade queries
Update spreadsheets & save files
|3pm||Korea FX markets closes||Anytime||Run to Starbucks for tea & coffee for desk. Collect money !!|
He also talked about key skills trading managers look for and how (these days) the trading floor has a big say in the recruitment process:
|1**||Numeracy & can “quantify”|
|2**||Bloomberg & MS EXCEL|
|3**||Timeliness / sense of priority|
|4*||Analytical à Speedy execution|
|5*||Opinionated & decisive|
|6||Organised multi tasking|
|7||Track record in “competitions”|
|8***||Concentration & listening skills***|
|5||Sense of humour|
|8***||Awareness (different to sensitive)|
|10||Sportmanship (elite teams only)|
Kan finished up with a lively Q&A session that continued in the bar afterwards…overall this was a great insight into one of the most high-pressured and exciting roles in finance.