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Job in an IBank

I'll soon be starting a job in a (european) investment bank on the trading floor as a Developer (Technology - Fixed Income). I have never worked for a bank before. My role will be at "analyst" level, and I will be working on the trading, risk and pricing system.

- What should I expect? I am worried that I'll be yelled at by rude traders (although the technology desk is on the other side of the trading floor)

- I am nervous as they'll put me on a six month probabtion. How do I survive?

- What is it like working for a bank? Is there a different culture between the american and european banks?

- I'll have a few weeks before I begin, what can I do to prepare? I am concerned about the amount of business knowledge required as well as the normal things about starting a new job (I'm thinking books to read..).
kr
Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
I highly recommend reading the following two books before you start:

Liar's Poker
When Genius Failed : The Rise & Fall of LCTM

They are accounts of the rise and fall of Salomon Brothers and Long Term Capital Management respectively. You will glean a bit of domain knowledge from them but they are an interesting read as well.

You should prepare yourself to be yelled at by Traders (at least then it won't come as a shock if it does happen). I imagine long hours will be the norm as you will need to be there from before the market opens to after it closes (so probably something like 7am - 6pm and perhaps later). But hey, you're closer to the money, right? :)

It will likely be a fast paced, high pressure environment (unless you're on a convertible bond desk or something like that) where you will be expected to work to tight deadlines with minimal help. Once you get over the initial panic and fear that you won't perform, you might well start to enjoy it. A sense of achievement at the end of each day that you wouldn't get with your average CRUD job.

Here are some things you should brush up on (or start learning!):

 - Algorithms & data structures (focusing on the languages relevant to your job). Learn the intricacies of these - you will use them a lot more than in most other domains.
 - Collections class Libraries extensively (if you're using .Net or Java etc).
 - Performance, optimization & threading.
 - Performance tuning databases and have a look at how column oriented databases work (your IBank might use something like KDB+ for real-time data processing).
 - All the advanced features of whatever languages you will be using.

On the upside, prepare yourself for a decent bonus next year.
Mr Anonymous
Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
I'm also starting at an IBank in August, although I did an internship at the same company last summer so I'll try to answer your questions.

- What should I expect? I am worried that I'll be yelled at by rude traders (although the technology desk is on the other side of the trading floor)
I wasn't working on the trading floor so I didn't really experience it but I had some friends based on the trading floor and they didn't find it too bad. Also the bank I worked at had separate Development and Support teams in Technology for the various business areas, so if it's similar where you'll be working you won't really face it as it's the Support guys that tend to get yelled at.

- I am nervous as they'll put me on a six month probabtion. How do I survive?
I think this is pretty much standard and as long as you don't screw up in a major way it's just a formality.

- What is it like working for a bank? Is there a different culture between the american and european banks?
Well I was at the London office of a major US bank but from attending recruiting events at several banks and speaking to friends who have interned at other banks, every place has its own culture, so I don't know if you can make a division based on European/US lines.
I found it quite a laid-back atmosphere and nothing near as intense as I expected from the stereotypes. The hours were reasonable (9-5.30) on average although obviously around a release you have to put in extra work to make sure all goes smoothly.

- I'll have a few weeks before I begin, what can I do to prepare? I am concerned about the amount of business knowledge required as well as the normal things about starting a new job (I'm thinking books to read..).
Are you on a graduate program or something similar? If so most places will have a training program to start off with which will include bringing you up to speed on the business.
Mak
Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
> What should I expect?

You should expect people to assume than an "analyst" has some relevant experience/domain knowledge or - if you're lucky - they'll expect that you can learn quickly.  ;)


Me, I prefer the fun that comes with developing software for industrial plants where the workers all get paid by the unit (and thus work quickly so they can have a short day and still get full pay) and bang large knives on desks because they're impatiently waiting for you to fix the computer.

It takes something to stop work and just stand there looking at them until they shut up and let you get on with working without the distractions.

Even if you get shouted at, there's a good chance the person shouting will at least be unarmed.  ;)

Thursday, May 10, 2007
 
 
> probably something like 7am - 6pm and perhaps later

Nah, they have a semi-shift system (at least where I worked) so that the hours get covered - come in early, go home early; come in later, go home later. Which isn't to say you dont work ong hours :)

> But hey, you're closer to the money, right?

Even working where they make the stuff doesn't get you any free samples.

Friday, May 11, 2007
 
 
Okay, my 2 cents on this.  I have worked in IBanks for the past ten years.  If you got through the interview process and have been hired, then you can pretty much expect to meet two types of people.  Those who love office politics and do everything they can possibly do with OP to get promoted, and those that hate OP and just want to do a good job.

If like me, you fall in the wanting todo a good job, then you pretty much expect a crap bonus, as you will not be spending enough time, schmoozing the bosses.

If you ever, ever get invited out to after work drinks with senior staff, YOU MUST GO.  If you don't, then whoever is there is going to get the promotion and bonus.  It doesn't matter how well you work in IBanks, it matters if you are visible.

Friday, May 11, 2007
 
 
the last poster about Drinks, etc. makes a good point.

Yes, expect to be yelled at. You know nothing at this point. The traders will yell at you for things, even if it isn't your fault.

Pick up some books by Fabozzi. He was an instructor in my training program, way back when. You will find his book heavy and tough to understand. I never quite got Duration. But, get the basic par value, etc. down now.

From a technical perspective, have threading down.
Patrick From An IBank Send private email
Friday, May 11, 2007
 
 
oh, and Welcome to the Jungle!
Patrick From An IBank Send private email
Friday, May 11, 2007
 
 
I think this yelling at thing is mostly a myth.  There is some shouting on a trading floor, but no one really yells at anyone in angry.  They are shouting customer orders mostly.  And no one shouts at the IT guy.  We need him too badly.
Tech Trader
Saturday, May 12, 2007
 
 

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