Industry Insights: My Life as a Trader

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.
Before 12

 

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:

HARD SKILLS
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***
9 Problem solving
10 Languages

 

SOFT SKILLS
1*** Moral compass
2 Integrity
3* Adaptable
4* Discipline
5 Sense of humour
6 Self motivated
7** Composure
8*** Awareness (different to sensitive)
9 Self reflector
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.

Kan Fun Li

  • 1996 Graduate of ISMA (ICMA) Centre, Reading
  • Market Maker of Asian currencies : 1997 Asian Financial Crisis
  • NDF and FX Option trader “2005 China Revaluation” : J.P. Morgan Chase
  • Merrill Lynch & BAML: 2008 Crisis, Internationalization of Chinese Yuan, Regulatory Reform
  • Portfolio Manager at Capula Investment Management > USD 10 billion A.U.M.
  • Managing Director at GAMA Private Asset Management : 2016
  • Chocolate Private Asset Management licenced by Securities Futures Commission Hong Kong since 2017