TRADER AT J.P. MORGAN
Meet Cassandra Austen, a 24-year-old Associate working at J.P. Morgan in Sydney. We chatted to Cass about what it’s really like to work on a trading floor.
Describe your job in a nutshell: As a trader in the Fixed Income team, we trade (buy and sell) fixed income products such as bonds or foreign currency. Clients like banks or fund managers will buy or sell products with our trading desk. I then go to the market to try and sell or buy them back. It’s very fast-paced – prices can change quickly and we deal with a wide range of product types so I’m always on my toes. There is no “typical day”. You aren’t working on long-term projects in trading, everything is immediate and there are lots of different tasks to be performed in the same day. I have a lot of interaction with clients and am accountable for my book’s daily profit or loss. This means I can see the immediate result of my work!
What are your qualifications? I pursued a Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) at the University of Sydney where I majored in Finance, Economics, and Financial Math. In year 12, I studied Math Extension 2 & Economics. Although I enjoy numbers and problem solving, you don’t need pure maths to do this job, you just need to enjoy working with numbers.
What interested you in finance? At university I knew I wanted to work in the financial services industry but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at the time. Working for an investment bank like J.P. Morgan seemed like a great option to help me figure out my career path. I thought this would mean long hours and minimal work-life balance, but I can tell you this isn’t the case in my role. It’s fast paced when the market opens at 8.30am but once the market is closed and my trades are all booked, I’m usually out the door by 5.30pm.
Tell us a myth about finance that you can bust. Historically, there has been low female representation out on the dealing floors but this is improving and our firm’s environment has been very supportive. I joined my trading team as their first female graduate and they went out of their way to welcome me and make me feel part of the team. The firm continues to work on recruitment efforts and retention of female talent across our Financial Markets group.
Where could this job take you? Anywhere you want! There are so many different roles and businesses within J.P. Morgan in Sydney and globally. I have friends in the firm who have moved all over the world including London, New York and Hong Kong.
What has been the coolest work opportunity that you’ve had? I spent seven weeks in New York City with all the global J.P. Morgan graduates for our training. It was a chance to learn a lot, meet people from all over the world and have fun!
How did your degree prepare you for this role? In my role, you learn most of what you need on the job. People come from all different backgrounds and didn’t necessarily study finance at university. There is no expectation that you must know everything from the beginning. When you start, you’re given a lot of on-the-job training such as shadowing people throughout the day and you may start with smaller tasks to get you prepped. As you progress with your career, you’ll be given more responsibility to keep you challenged and allow you to develop.
What are the essential skills for working in finance? You need to like working with numbers, be able to work quickly and adapt in different scenarios, and make decisions quickly while backing them up. A keen interest in markets and the world around you is important.
What is the recruitment process like? You apply through the J.P. Morgan grad program, typically in your penultimate year at university. There is a screening process, an interview with Human Resources, and then interviews with senior managers. You’ll be asked behavioural questions and perhaps a few technical questions like brain teasers to see how you think. You can check out interviewing advice and tips from J.P. Morgan here.
Tell us about your office environment and the workplace culture. The trading floor can be very exciting, especially when a noteworthy event like Brexit occurs. You have a set desk (mine has six screens – all of which I need!), and you’ll sit with your team (my team consists of ten people). You work primarily with your team but there’s a lot of crossover with sales, research, middle office and technology teams. There’s no hierarchy – you can chat with seniors and managing directors whenever. The team has a mix of ages though, at the moment, I’m the youngest in my team. Socially, the team goes out for dinner or drinks about once a month (last year we also went go-karting), and when it’s quiet we chat about whatever is going on in our lives. There’s also a lot of opportunity to connect with other graduates in the business.
What is your biggest achievement at work so far? I won the Rising Star award from J.P. Morgan’s Women on the Move Interactive Network, which was exciting! I’ve also helped to build out an inter-bank Sydney group called Junior Women in Markets to connect young women in finance through events, networking sessions and information nights.
Pitch us your job. Financial markets never get boring and you are always learning! There’s opportunity to be rewarded well financially, something I’ve found women don’t think about enough when they are at university. You can love your job and be paid well for it.
If Cassandra’s job sounds like it’s right for you, check out all the graduate opportunities available at J.P. Morgan here.
My job in a nutshell.. When I was working in Auditing, I was primarily working on audits for Financial Services and Consumer Goods clients. As an auditor, your job is to conduct the independent examination of books, accounts, documents and vouchers of an organization to ascertain how far the financial statements present a true and fair view.
Skills required… Excellent Excel skills (seriously – spreadsheets are your life), attention to detail, clear communication and client relationship management skills.
It will also help if… You are prepared to travel between various client sites, you are able to work closely with many different people and teams and if you are adaptable and cooperative as a person.
Avoid this job if… You prefer something more creative, you don’t enjoy reading through documents and paperwork, you want to stick to 9-5 business hours.
My experience… Throughout the first year of my placement I became more and more disinterested in my work and was finding it hard to find a suitable work/life balance, especially given the long hours. I realised I was not passionate enough to stay in an auditing or accounting line of work, and my results at uni were also indicative of this. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to have some great mentors at the time and they encouraged me to explore my options. As I began my second year as an Intern, I was offered a three month internal secondment into a marketing related role.. and that is where I found my true calling!
I did some more research and made changes to my degree, picking up Marketing and Advertising as new majors and I resigned as an intern from the audit world. A decision which I could not be happier with! To this day, I look back and I still feel immense joy and pride with my decision!
Yes, I was jobless for some time. Yes, it was hard to find paid Marketing work straight off the bat. Yes, there were times I began to doubt my choices. But ultimately I worked hard to be where I am and I started doing things I loved and what I was passionate about!
My advice… To those of you who may be considering a degree or profession change, don’t ever think you are quitting because things got tough – NOT taking a bold step and finding the right path for you may end up being a LOT tougher in the long run.. There is so much out there, why not take a leap of faith and show the world what you have to offer!
Let me introduce myself… My name is Leah and between summers at university, where I studied a combined law degree, I completed an internship at a boutique consulting firm based in Sydney.
My job in a nutshell… Consultants work closely with clients across the private, government and not for profit sectors to solve complex, often time-critical problems, such as driving growth or profitability at a corporation or driving efficiency in a government department. As an intern, I worked on cases across financial institutions and the education industry where I worked on an international expansion strategy and a new product line development.
Skills you’ll need… The ability to work in and with diverse teams is critical, because the best consultants have a broad range of skills and experience, whether that’s from their education, work experience or personal interests.
Traits/Skills that are valuable… An interest or background in business is useful, but what drives all consultants is an interest in problem solving. Curious, open-minded and passionate people are very highly regarded!
This job is for you if you like… You can handle uncertainty – there will often be occasions where all the research in the world can’t lead you to the ‘right’ answer and you will need to make the best decision you can, based on limited information.
Avoid this job if… You have a deep interest in a single industry – consultants often work over multiple industries for a few years before developing a specialty. However, some consulting firms have a specific focus, such as media, HR or technology consulting.
INVESTMENT BANKING INTERNSHIP
Let me introduce myself… My name is Carol, and I’m a 22-year-old Commerce/Law Graduate who completed an Internship at Goldman Sachs, Investment Banking Division (IBD).
Why I applied… I had found Finance subjects such as valuations and mergers & acquisitions highly interesting, so I wanted to see them put into practice within a workplace. Goldman Sachs, IBD – what investment banking is colloquially known as – helps companies to takeover or merge with other companies, IPO on the Australian Stock Exchange, or raise capital.
My internship day… I was fortunate enough to be placed straight onto a live deal. On a day-to-day basis, I would dial into conference calls, update numbers in financial models, help with PowerPoint decks pitching the company to buyers, and help draft IPO prospectuses. No day was ever the same, which is part of the excitement of this job.
Skills I’ve developed… The internship was a steep learning curve, but the skills developed were valuable. On the technical side, my financial modelling and number crunching skills improved enormously (as did my use of Excel shortcuts and speed of formatting graphs!). On softer skills, the internship pushed me to think of my feet, work under pressure with multiple deadlines (often is the case when staffed on more than one live deal), and manage my time very well.
Apply for this internship if…
- You enjoy numbers, and are intellectually curious about financial markets / the economy
- You enjoy working in teams, as a deal team will always comprise a working group that spans from Managing Director to Analyst level
- You are willing to work hard and sometimes lack sleep!
Don’t apply for this internship if…
- You dislike dealing with numbers
- You dislike caffeine (just kidding, liking coffee is not a prerequisite….!)
My advice to you…
- Be yourself. This sounds cliché, but interviewers want to see your personality come through. Many people have good marks and look fantastic on paper, but firms want to see what differentiates you as a person.
- Have a story. Firms want to understand why you want to work for them, so being able to explain convincingly how different aspects of university or life has brought to where you area is important.
- Do read on the financial news and prepare to be asked some technical finance or accounting questions. Don’t come to an interview unprepared on these topics.
Let me introduce myself… My name is Krystle, I am 23 years old, an Associate in Institutional Banking & Markets at CBA and I studied a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Finance & Econometrics.
My job in a nutshell… I work on Project Finance in Utilities & Infrastructure. So essentially looking at new projects and how to finance them or refinancing them.
Skills you’ll need… Excel modelling (but don’t worry, you’ll learn this when you start), working to a deadline (yes, there are a lot of deadlines), attention to detail as there is a lot of documentation to work through (i.e. powerpoint) and stakeholder management (which is a lot of communication and liaising with other people and clients).
It will also help if… You are good with numbers and work well under pressure. Your negotiation skills are also super useful as you move up in the area. Plus it is really helpful to be good at prioritising and be able to communicate.
This job is for you… You enjoy finance, project work (not as much bau*), excel modelling, reading through a lot of documents and preparing papers.
Avoid this job if… You prefer bau work, don’t enjoy working with numbers or reading through documents.
My advice is… This is a great opportunity to gain experience in analytical and customer focussed areas – whether it is a grad job or not.
Let me introduce myself… My name is Nicole Kuepper-Russell, I am 30 years old and a Management Consultant. I studied a Bachelor of Engineering in Photovoltaic and Solar Energy Engineering, with a PhD in Solar Energy.
My job in a nutshell… We work with major organisations and companies to help them solve the toughest problems they are facing. Given this the work we do varies a lot! Some examples of typical projects include: growth strategy for a bank, performance improvement for a mine site, helping a telco drive customer advocacy, due diligence on an acquisition target, etc.
Skills you’ll need… We do a lot of logical thinking and number crunching. We work with our clients so it is a very collaborative process. We work in strong teams so coaching is a skill that is very valued.
Valuable traits… Logical thinking. Curiosity.
This job is for you… If you love solving really tough problems in a team environment and working with great people across a range of industries.
Avoid this job if… If you don’t like numbers (sorry)!
Tips and advice… Try the case study examples online – if you enjoy them then you’ll probably enjoy the job!
Let me introduce myself… My name is Celine Kabashima, I am 31 years old and a Portfolio Manager. I studied a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Majoring in Finance) (Villanova University, USA) and Masters of Science in Finance (Villanova School of Business, USA). I am also a CFA charter holder.
My job in a nutshell… I manage and monitor our investments in the Absolute Return / Alternatives space for AMP Capital in the multi-manager team. This involves conducting due diligence and analysing the investment strategy of the funds we’re invested. This requires onsite meetings with the manager, writing reports and presenting recommendations to an Investment Committee. It also requires engaging with internal and external stakeholders – investors, consultants, clients, trustees – to present your capabilities and communicate findings in your space. I am regularly in communication with my managers to understand how the markets are affecting my funds and monitoring their portfolio including measures of performance and risks.
Skills you’ll need… This role requires strong communication skills both verbally and in writing. When conducting due diligence, you are essentially interviewing the manager and trying to ask the right questions in order to evaluate the manager’s skill and investment strategy. You will also need to have high analytical skills to be able to think critically to understand the managers’ strategies and to analyse his soft skills.
Valuable traits… Some valuable traits for this role include being extroverted and comfortable in new environments. Having confidence when public speaking and when meeting new people is also beneficial. You also have to have confidence in yourself and to project this confidence onto others is critical when you are required to convince others of your recommendations and opinions. Being a self-motivator is also a valuable trait as you often have to create your own agenda and objectives.
This job is for you… If you like interacting with people as you are required to do a lot of meetings internally and externally. You should also enjoy reading and writing as you are required to read and write a lot of reports.
Avoid this job if… You don’t enjoy interacting with people and if you’re not interested in financial markets.
Tips and advice… A large part of this role is learning on the job and being open to learning new things. You should also question the ‘status quo’ and try to improve the job that you’ve inherited and processes around it. This role is for someone who has an entrepreneurial spirit and enjoys engaging with people and the financial markets.
Let me introduce myself… My name is Victoria Shelton, I am 29 years old and I work in Sales in Funds Management. I studied Bachelor of Commerce (majors in Finance & Econometrics) at the University of Sydney. I am a CFA charterholder.
My job in a nutshell… I am a Business Development Manager at Amundi Asset Management – it is essentially working in a sales role at a funds management company. There are three parts to my job: 1) looking after our current clients; 2) looking for new clients and 3) talking to asset consultants (who give ratings for our funds management capabilities).
The purpose of my role is to sell my firm’s ability to manage & invest money (in different strategies such as Equities or Fixed Income) to super funds (such as AustralianSuper, Hostplus, UniSuper etc), multi-managers (like AMP and Colonial First State) and asset consultants (such as JANA, Frontier, Towers Watson and Mercer) in Australia and New Zealand.
I work for a global asset management company, headquartered in Paris, which has offices in over 30 locations over the world. It means that I talk to many overseas offices on a daily and weekly basis as that is where our portfolio managers sit. For example, on any given day I am corresponding with my colleagues (portfolio managers, client servicing team and product specialists) in Paris, London, Singapore, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Luxembourg regarding monthly reporting requirements as well as client or prospective client queries.
Skills you’ll need… The three most important skills for this job is the ability to build relationships, being a good communicator (especially listening to others and being extra-careful in email correspondence) as well as attention to detail.
Valuable traits…You need to have a willingness to give new things a try.
This job is for you… If you like networking, meeting new people, working on a team, and like marathons!!! The sales process can be six months to five years in this role so you really need patience and know how to build long-term relationships. You can have the same client for over ten years, so you need to avoid burning bridges and stay client-focused in all your dealings.
Avoid this job if… New things, new environments and meeting new people scare you. You need to constantly get on top of new funds management strategies, keep up to date with financial markets and attend a lot of industry meetings, networking events/conferences by yourself.
Tips and advice… I am going to over-share here: I had a funny moment on Tinder when a guy (not working in finance) asked if my job was about “maths and stuff”. I laughed, but then reflected as what my role must look like to someone outside the industry. I would say that the more experienced you are, the job does get very technical. However, to begin with, you need to be willing to learn on the job (and sometimes read up on things at night) and enjoy interacting with others.
And since maths was mentioned, one last thing: the Australian retirement/superannuation system is now around A$2 trillion (as at 30-Sept-2015), which makes it the fourth largest globally (behind the US, UK and Japan). According to Rainmaker, the super industry is expected to grow to A$8 trillion by 2035 (8% growth per year vs 11% growth per year in the last decade) so it is a great growth industry for new graduates. I would highly recommend a role directly in the superannuation industry or a role servicing this industry. And remember, there are a wide-variety of roles in this sector, aside from being a portfolio analyst/manager.
Let me introduce myself… My name is Sam, I studied a Bachelor of Commerce, with a double major in Marketing and Management.
Why I chose my degree… For as long as I can remember I wanted to work in the corporate sector and what better avenue then a Commerce degree. From day one in BUSS1001 when we talked about employability skills, everything in this degree is taught through the framework of how to help you get wherever you want to go career wise, not to mention the team of career consultants at the Careers & Employability Office or the Industry Placement Program office who genuinely cared about helping me succeed.
My degree and majors in a nutshell… Marketing is all about case examples and application. Management is all about developing your own thoughts and learning management techniques and common workplace issues to be aware off. Overall the Business school is all about critical thinking and becoming aware of developments in the business sector.
Do this degree if…
- You want to join a cohort of likeminded students. With so many core units, you tend to find the same people in your classes from one semester to the next, unlike some more generalized degrees like a BA.
- Are an ambitious individual, who is going to take up all the opportunities both in the class room and through the clubs and societies system to build up your personal brand.
My advice to you… Even if you are not sure what area of business appeals to you, get into a BComm and then find out. I shifted from pursuing a career in Marketing to a career in Human Resource Management. Good Luck!
Let me introduce myself… My name is Irene Chia, I am 30 years old and am a Communications Specialist at REST Industry Super. I studied a Bachelor of Business (Hospitality Management) at University of Western Sydney and a Master of Commerce (Marketing) at the University of Sydney.
My job in a nutshell… My role at REST Industry Super is primarily to increase member and employer engagement by developing superannuation-related communication pieces for our customers in a manner that’s informative, easy to digest and engaging.
Some of the communication pieces I manage include member fact sheets on different topics, annual CEO video, Product Disclosure Statements documents, investment quarterly update (which reports on how your super has performed), regular newsletters as well as creating various sales collateral.
Stakeholder management forms a large component of my role. I work closely with different product managers, technical specialists and our legal team – among others – to ensure our materials are accurate and compliant with legislations. I also do copywriting, proofreading and editing of materials as well as working with external design agencies to produce artworks.
Skills you’ll need… I would say that communication skills, both written and verbal, rank high in terms of skills required for the role. Project management is another important one to have: because there are always numerous projects running simultaneously, staying organised and keeping on top of them is very important. Thirdly, attention to detail is key due to the highly regulated nature of the industry and because it’s important to provide accurate information to our customers so they can make informed decisions.
Valuable traits… The ability to collaborate with stakeholders and achieve the best outcome possible.
This job is for you… If you can’t help but to organise things, derive a sense of satisfaction from completing projects and are a bit of a grammar police 😉
Avoid this job if… If you fear deadlines.
Tips and advice… The financial service sector has a lot to offer for those considering a career in it, including mobility across different industries within the sector and plenty of opportunities for learning and growth.
The financial and insurance services sector made the biggest contribution to the Australia’s GDP at nine per cent in FY13-14 and is on track to stay as the top contributor in the coming years (Financial Services Council). Some of the industries in the sector include banking, insurance, wealth management and superannuation. Though each industry has its own unique opportunities, your skills and experience from one industry are often transferable into and within the financial service sector.
Additionally, because the industry is continuously evolving, it provides an environment where there are plenty of opportunities to learn, grow and challenge yourself. From that perspective, being willing to constantly learn and improve your skills will help set you apart.
Let me introduce myself… My name is Trishika Ramrakha, I am 24 years old and I am an Account Executive at an advertising agency in Sydney. I previously went to the University of Sydney and completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and Management.
My job in a nutshell… My job is all about problem solving. In account service we are the pivotal link between the client and all the internal facets of an agency – creatives, production, TV, media, PR. We are essentially brand guardians – we need to make sure all the work that comes through our creative teams (and the marketing work that comes through partners who our client works with) are on-brief and in line with what the brand is wanting to achieve.
This job is for you… If you are a people person, love a challenge, problem solving, thinking on your feet and have a passion for exciting advertising.
Avoid this job if… Don’t sign up to work in an advertising agency if you don’t enjoy a fast past environment and if you hate process. You need a sense of urgency and need to be organised. You must enjoy working hard and working with people – building relationships with your client and the people you work with in the office every day. You are never working on the same thing over and over again – your tasks change every single day.
Tips and advice… A tip – try to start off in a smaller agency, you get more exposure to the process of how agencies work and get to take on more work. Also try to find an integrated agency which has an internal creative team you can work with and brands you can see yourself working on.
DIGITAL MARKETING AND MEDIA COORDINATOR
Let me introduce myself… My name is Michelle Cooling, I am 29 years old and am the Digital Marketing and Media Coordinator at Cricket Tasmania / Hobart Hurricanes. I completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism, Media and Communications at UTAS (University of Tasmania) in 2009. I had a short term stint at Cricket Australia in Melbourne before starting work at Cricket Tasmania 5 years ago. My field also allowed me to work in the UK, I worked as Digital and Media Manager at Durham County Cricket Club in England’s North East in 2013.
My job in a nutshell… I get to roam social media all day and get paid for it…. Kidding! But if I had a $1 for everytime someone asked me if that’s all I do, I would give Zuckerberg a run for his money.
Digital and social media is a big part of my job as I manage and am a content creator for all social media channels for Cricket Tasmania and Hobart Hurricanes but my job entails more than just tweeting and ‘gramming. Some other areas include media liaison, marketing communications, public relations, digital media, graphic design and IT skills in terms of controlling the back end of websites, I’ve even learnt a bit of HTML code (who am I?!).
I also travel as media manager with the Hobart Hurricanes and the Tasmanian Tigers and occasionally with our female teams too over the summer. This involves being the media contact on hand at matches and working with the broadcaster- so Channel 9 for One Day Cup and Channel 10 for Big Bash League. Tasks vary from chasing players across the ground (yes I have done this) to get them mic’d up to facilitating interview requests. I’m lucky to have the best seat in the house and watch some of the best cricketers in the world go about their business. For the BBL we travel all around Australia for matches in Dec/Jan (sanity levels through the roof!), it’s a lot of work but enjoyable at the same time.
Skills you’ll need… Working under pressure is huge especially ‘in season’. Digital media is constantly changing and the demand for information is SO high. If you want to work in the field you can’t be a 9-5er. People expect news as it happens and the organisation looks slack if you are slow to respond. It’s not just about meeting the demands of people though it’s about being pro-active and getting people engaged with your brand.
Traits/Skills that are valuable… It sounds obvious but communication skills are obviously key and also being confident. I am not the most outgoing person but am confident in a job sense I guess. When you are working with professional athletes you have to be- you want to develop good relations with them. I am lucky to work with a good group of players and coaches and get along well with them and it makes the job easier. When you are constantly asking them to help with being involved in the content you are producing, do media interviews, appearances and briefing them for media it’s important to develop good rapport.
Also have good grammar…
When you are publishing content to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world on behalf of a brand, you do not want to be making grammatical errors! Pet hate is reading content online with bad grammar.
This job is for you if you like… CRICKET! My job involves watching and consuming all things cricket. It’s like any media or digital job, without stating the obvious, I think you do a better job if you are passionate about what you are producing content for.
I grew up in a household where cricket was talked about a lot and was a fan before starting work in the field so had the background knowledge, in a sport like this it’s really important I think. Also you have to love what you do.
From a more generic sense though, if you are a creative type – you enjoy writing, producing content and engaging with other people a Digital / Media and Communications is the field for you!
Avoid this job if… You don’t like having to bite your tongue when you read social media comments…..oh and working past 5pm… My job is not 9-5, social media thrives 7-9pm or ‘prime time’ as the kids call it. I am always thinking about our digital platforms at all hours, it’s not as full on in the off season but then I have to think more as the content isn’t right in front of me. You do become absorbed in it and although you have times where you are up at 2am post-match getting everything online for people to wake up to, you do it so others can enjoy it as you do.
My advice to you…. I think it is a constantly changing area to work in which makes it exciting and as I said earlier, the demand for content is getting bigger and bigger and companies want to make a big presence online so it’s a great industry to be getting into as technology advances. You have to be prepared to work hard and really commit to your job as ‘news doesn’t sleep’ but it’s worth it when you get to be part of some great experiences and your job takes you all over the world!