I’ve been in Financial Markets since I left school at age 18. A friend of mine had a sister (I know, I know, a stretch!) working at a firm called Schroders in Australia and they wanted a settlements clerk in FX.
So, I turned up in a short sleeve shirt with a tie and a shock of blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. After a bit of awkwardness, I offered a temporary solution to try out how I went and if it didn’t work out, no harm done.
(I was told to cut my hair, which I did. Note to the kiddies: sometimes you just gotta do it, long hair, beards, no tattoos until you’re 30 blah blah, yeah Dad).
Schroders was a multi asset fund manager with arms into property, corporate finance, investment banking, funds management and financial markets, which is the division I worked for.
After 6 weeks they made me fulltime. During the day I worked at Schroders, where I was taught all facets of markets from FX to futures, interest rates, commodities, indices and single name stocks and after work at nights I studied at university.
After 4 years Schroders was bought by Salomon Smith Barney (Citigroup) and I was retrenched. I always look back on my time at Schroders as both extremely beneficial from a learning perspective and personally rewarding as I have managed to keep many close friends from all that time ago.
I started at Royal Bank of Canada the day after the cheque cleared doing only FX settlements and although it wasn’t a bad job, it wasn’t very challenging. My retrenchment allowed me to invest for the first time in my life though, which was the beginning of my trading journey, and I also travelled a little.
After a year I then left to chase a girl in Melbourne, who I had met whilst travelling, and I landed a job at JBWere. Yes, yes, what a cliché. I chased the girl, blah blah. Better chasing a girl than a bad trade I always say 😊
Sometimes in life you make big decisions, and this was that for me. I had never lived out of home; I knew about 3 people in Melbourne; and I really didn’t have a job guaranteed.
But I had a spirit for adventure and calculated risk. I thought I would get the job when I got to Melbourne, even with one interview remaining. So, I packed all my worldly possessions into my Toyota Corolla and cruised down the Hume highway.
(I had to cruise, because once my car went above 90 km/h it started to get a bit nervous and shake).
JBWere was an old-school Melbourne stock broker who had employed some of my former Schroders colleagues to trade different markets than they had traditionally participated in. The role was a great fit for me as I built out their back office and filled in for their middle office/executor in Sydney when he was away. It was the beginning of a huge upwards trajectory on my career pathway.
However, it didn’t go so well with the girl. After 2 years the group of traders decided to open a hedge fund and offered me a job (I begged) in the middle office due to the increased work load, so I moved back to Sydney to accept the position.
Soon after, Goldman Sachs bought JBWere (and our hedge fund decided to externalise) and GS offered me a job supporting their proprietary trading team with the purpose to eventually join their proprietary trading team.
It was another big decision for me, as the hedge fund role wasn’t offering career progression of this sort, but it was also a $1.5b macro hedge fund in Australia, which was huge at the time. I decided to go with the GS offer and I’ve never looked back.
After nearly 10 years in markets learning and building a career, I finally joined the Goldman Sachs prop trading team in 2005. I traded Global Macro, which was anything aside from single name stocks, whilst also managing the prop team’s positions and the treasury funding book. It was a great job and it continued for 6 years until the Dodd-Frank/Volker legislation prohibited such activity in investment banks and prop trading was shut down.
Since then I have mostly been involved in start ups in the retail space and trading my own capital plus client capital. I did have a year back in a macro hedge fund in a Treasury Operations role which was great, but the availability of paid trading jobs in Australia has dried up significantly. It is a shame, as I’ve always considered Australians to be very hard working in trading. Our time zone is the hardest, but the upside is our lifestyle.
“When I get hurt in the market, I get the hell out. It doesn’t matter at all where the market is trading. I just get out, because I believe that once you’re hurt in the market, your decisions are going to be far less objective than they are when you’re doing well… If you stick around when the market is severely against you, sooner or later they are going to carry you out.”
Randy McKay, trader, of “The New Market Wizards” fame.