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Saturday, April 16, 2011

First impressions of a trading floor

After reading the horror stories in Liar's Poker and other books, I was mentally expecting the worst(ambience wise) in my stint on the trading floor(in structuring). But I was pleasantly surprised. Rather than the bunch of battlehardened phone throwing screaming manics I was expecting, I saw rows and rows of screens, with serious faced faces on them. Even the TV in the backdrop was largely muted with only the headlines flashing. My initial impressions(in no particular order) are

  1. Traders have 3-4 screens(with atleast one Reuters/Bloomberg terminal) to let them multitask-watch the market movements, check their mail, update the Excel sheets, execute trades etc. This may lead to information overload but hey they are paid handsomely for that
  2. The phone line allows around 4-8 incoming calls at a time, with user friendly interface on a specially designed phone instrument
  3.  Research/Capital markets are physically segregated behind glass walls(!) to preserve that Chinese walls needed by regulators. That makes interaction rather difficult-which IS the intention of course!
  4. Interns are rarely asked to bring food for the entire team('desk'). Those old days are revived selectively but are no longer institutions.
  5. Since quotes can be received/sent by terminals, phones are not used that much-so there is much less  noise than I initially supposed.
  6. Temper tantrums(like in Liars Poker) and swear words do exist but that is individual specific. Even elsewhere, it is not a badge of pride to use expletives.
This post will be updated as time progresses. 

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