Day in the life of a trader

As a prop trader people often ask me what is a typical day like. This will be slightly different for everyone but this is my day in the life of a trader.

06:50 Arrive at the desk. I will have received emails from various news services overnight about breaking news from the Asian session and summaries of yesterdays trading, in depth reading isnt really necessary, just a scan of headlines to see if there is anything big, most days there isnt but its good to be aware.

07:00 The European futures markets open, the first 10 minutes are one of the busiest sessions of the day, sometimes your whole day can be made, or lost in this 10 minutes. You should never let one session take you out for the day so i give myself an amount i can lose in this session in case the worst happens.

08:00 The cash equity markets open and the futures markets react to this and can be volatile, volatility usually means opportunity.

08:30 after a busy and stressful hour where you can make a lot of money on a busy day its time to take some down time. It is essential to step away from the markets at the times of day when the market is either quiet or you dont have an edge. It keeps you fresh and stops you doing boredom trades so will usually head to the gym now, watch a film at my desk, even have a nap. Its strange leaving the office at this time feeling like you have already done a days work and seeing normal people just making their way to the office.

10:00 Back in the office, this is my time for doing “normal job stuff”. Catching up on emails, going to meetings (on the odd occasion i need to go to one). I will keep an eye on the bond markets as auction results are often announced around this time

12:00 lunch, its amazing how early you get hungry when your day starts that early

13:00 14:30 This is the time the US participants start to enter the market and things can get very busy. 13:30 some of the biggest economic releases come out and then over the next hour or so all the US commodity markets start to trade their floor sessions as well as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) starts to open.

16:00 – 16:30 The European bond and equity cash sessions close. Again, one of the highest volume times of the day with lots of opportunity.

17:30 If the market has been very quiet and im not feeling on form i will go home around now. But if the markets are good and i am up a decent amount on the day i will keep trading on.

19:00 If i am trading on, i will usually take a break now, walk into town, meet some friends, go to the gym if i didnt earlier in the morning.

20:00 – 21:00 If i am still in the office i will trade the US equity close which is at 21:00

Hope this gives you an honest look at what a commitment being a full time trader is. Yes there are moments that are glamorous and exciting, but its not an easy life, it is long hours and hard work. As one of my first bosses said to me “trading is one of the only jobs in the world you can work for 12 hours and go home poorer than when you arrived” and its true. But its also one of the only jobs where you can change your life in a day. You have to be at your desk ready to be in it to win it and you have to dedicate your whole day to it to stand a chance.

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