Name: Anita Surana
Degree/university: 2.1 in Economics, UCL
Year of graduation: 2005
Occupation: I am a graduate on the sales and trading graduate development programme at ABN Amro
What do you do in your job?
I’m on a rotational programme, so I have worked on various desks within the global markets business unit with the aim of getting to understand the different products in the bank and the different roles such as trading, sales and research. Among the desks I’ve worked on so far are Asian and European equity sales, corporate banking and fixed income.
At the moment, I’m working in equity sales. I get in for 6.30am and have a look at what’s been going on in the markets and the current news flow. I attend two daily morning meetings, one for European stocks and one for UK ones. During the meetings, research analysts go through any new information or company results out that day and what they expect the impact on those companies’ share prices will be, in both the long term and short term. Afterwards, I usually research the companies in more depth and then write up a morning report on the stocks and what my personal views are, to gain more insight. For the rest of the day, various other tasks are delegated to me, such as researching some of my own ideas and pitching them to my team, putting together company profiles, and attending company and analyst presentations – all with the aim of helping me to understand companies, markets and economies. As a graduate working in sales and trading, you tend to be in the office for 11-12 hours a day, if not more.
What was your motivation in applying?
I’m from a business-oriented and mathematical background. While at university, I took a keen interest in the stock markets and started running a theoretical portfolio. What really inspired me was the idea of using a mixture of fundamental and technical analysis on stocks to establish my own view and take risk on that view. Because I found it all so interesting, the graduate programme I’m on seemed like a logical career move.
What did the application process involve?
I was fortunate enough to be accepted straight onto the graduate programme, having successfully completed an internship at the bank the previous year. So, I got to skip the usual process. Typically, it involves a series of interviews, group tasks and presentations, as well as some mathematical and written aptitude tests.
What do you enjoy about your job?
It’s a really fast-paced environment where you have to think on your feet, as well as be able to absorb a large volume of news flow and establish your own views on the back of that. That is stimulating. I’m also driven by being around intellectual and motivated people. Being in the middle of everything that is driving the economy is a great rush.
Most challenging part of your job?
I work in a very competitive environment. It is of the utmost importance to remain constantly focused and continue to add value to the bank. The early mornings and late finishes are also challenging.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
Really research the different products of any bank that you apply to, as well as the different departments. It will enable you to have a good understanding of where your skill set can be matched and be most valuable to the bank. After all, you almost have to persuade the bank why they should hire you. I’d also suggest doing some research into the cultures of different banks, so that you can apply to a bank where you think you’d fit in best. Speak to people in the banking environment, and try to get work experience in any free time you have. Even if it’s unpaid, getting exposure is essential to help build on your CV. Read the Financial Times and form your own views. If possible, gain some expertise in an area you are interested in.
Every bank has a different route into this area. At ABN AMRO, graduates interested in a career in global markets undertake a structured 12-18 month rotational training on its sales and trading programme, which is designed to give them a real insight across such areas as fixed-income and equities sales, trading, sales trading, research and derivatives. ‘If someone expresses a preference for fixed-income trading, for example, we believe they will still benefit from getting the experience of rotating in other areas of global markets,’ says Lucy Evans, graduate and MBA resourcing advisor at ABN AMRO, London.
Earning potential is huge. The highest-paid traders are, for instance, paid a bonus equivalent to the proportion of profits they make, and for top traders this is tens of millions of pounds.