A day in the life of a foreign exchange trader

By Mitesh of Goldman Sachs

Working as a trader in FX, I trade the Swiss franc. It is exciting — the foreign exchange markets operate 24 hours a day and any moment anything can happen. You have to be ready to react. The anticipation ahead of big numbers and the buzz you get from trading them is phenomenal.

6:30 a.m. – Getting Started

I usually get to my desk about 6:30 a.m. I start the morning by noting down the overnight ranges and calling our Asian desk to find out what’s happened overnight. Then I read the overnight recaps and news, and look at where things are trading at the moment. Usually, if one currency or another has made a notable move, we will discuss it and collate thoughts regarding what we think and what positions to put on/take off.

7:30 a.m. – Take the orders from Tokyo

The day speeds up once Europe and London are all in and liquidity improves. Clients can call in any time. Most tend to call in early to find out what’s been happening overnight. The majority of the business we handle tends to take place after 7:30-8:00 a.m. London time. European and UK data usually comes out from 9 a.m.-11a.m.

Mid-day – New York and London both open

Throughout the day, we take calls from clients. We take an active interest in what our clients are doing and their trading styles. We have a lot of contact with them and it is always interesting. Over time, I’ve developed relationships with several. This helps us improve the services we offer as well as build brand loyalty in the transparent currency markets. Lunch — which we have at our desk if the markets and phones are quiet — is usually just a quick sandwich.

Afternoon – London closes

The day goes by very quickly. The New York markets trade briskly at mid-day. The markets in London move towards the close in late afternoon. Each of the traders here covers separate books, i.e. different currencies, and on any given day, one may trade more actively then others. That’s why, while we’re each focused on a different currency, essentially we work as a team. We’ll often cover for each other taking calls and orders so someone else can handle a large position or talk with a client. We’re also constantly bouncing trading ideas off each other. There’s a good deal of give and take on the desk.

Winding Down – New York closes

There is a typically a lull in currencies as the NY markets wind down for the day. Tokyo won’t open again for several hours. So I usually go home around six. The workday, though, isn’t always over. Sometimes I’ll take positions overnight, monitor them from home and, if necessary, call into NY or Tokyo to trade. The currency markets trade around the clock — and there’s always something happening. That’s what makes this job so interesting.