As an engineering student at the University of Oxford, Annabel avidly pursued her love of math and science, landing summer internships in her field during the first few years. Still, she hoped to find a job after graduation that would be more dynamic. “I was looking for something more fast-paced and engaging,” she says. A Morgan Stanley campus recruitment event piqued her interest. “Through meeting people there, I worked out that there are a lot of opportunities at Morgan Stanley to find a role exactly like that. And fixed income, particularly, was what appealed to me.”
Through a summer internship program, Annabel got a taste of working on the trading desk. “I was able to rotate through different teams, so I saw different sides of the business within Sales and Trading. I got a feel for what desks I liked best—the kind of exposure that you can only get through actually being on the trading floor, seeing how the job works and how exciting it all is.”
Upon graduation, she was offered a position on the London Fixed-Income trading desk, and four years after that, she moved to New York. “As a salesperson in London, you get in at 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning when it’s the afternoon in Asia, and then you overlap with New York for the rest of the trading session, so it’s a global team covering the same client base 24/7. That’s how I got to know the New York team and, by knowing how to cover their clients, how I eventually moved there.”
I work on the interest rates sales desk within Fixed Income. When most people think of sales and trading desks, they think of stocks, but we handle government bonds and other related fixed-income products. Simply put, when our clients need to buy or sell U.S. Treasury bonds or their derivatives or to hedge their exposure to interest rates, we facilitate those transactions. We help our investors manage their risk and their exposure in that market.
I have a broad knowledge of products by virtue of the fact that I’ve moved through so many different teams, both here and in London—foreign exchange (a.k.a. FX), interest-rate teams. Not a lot of people at this stage of their career have had the opportunity to do all of that. People often ask me about specific products and the technicalities of different markets, and I quite like being a go-to source from that perspective. Most of my clients are macro hedge funds who are trading in many different products. So, to be able to have an understanding of each of those products and how they work and are interrelated gives me a much better appreciation of the dynamics of the market and what my clients are following.
It’s a fast-paced, high-pressure environment, which is what makes it exciting, but whether you’re interacting with traders or with clients, you’re dealing with people who are stressed. I think one of the most important parts of the job is being able to decipher what’s important, decide very quickly what to prioritize, and convey that to the client in a clear, calm way.
Seeing how quickly the market reacts to a headline and trying to understand why it behaved in that way. It can be quite stressful, but it’s all about being alert and staying on your toes.
Most teams in Sales and Trading are structured in a similar way, in that you all sit on the trading floor together. So you’re sitting next to both the Analysts and the Managing Directors on your team. And you’re all essentially doing the same job. It’s just that the more experienced you get, the more responsibility you take on. But the day-to-day role is very similar. You’re all watching the market and executing trades with clients. I really enjoy the environment because I get the opportunity to discuss ideas with my Managing Director, who sits next to me, all day, every day. I just say, “Jordan, are you free, can I…?” and he’s like, “Yep, we can discuss,” which I think is unique.
Yes. And then throughout the summer, I’m involved with the nine-week intern program, which is similar to the one that I did in London when I was younger, rotating through three different desks. The interns spend, say, three weeks in Rate Sales, three weeks in Foreign Exchange and three weeks in Credit. I really enjoy trying to identify the best candidates, many of whom are women.
Someone who’s eager, keen, intelligent, diplomatic, and asks good questions—and who understands when is a good time to ask those questions. That’s something that’s quite important on a trading floor, where there are a lot of things going on. Knowing when to put your hand up and say you don’t know the answer to something and not try to pretend that you do is also important, particularly in a role where you’re dealing with risk, because that’s how mistakes are made: If someone pretends that they know what’s going on but doesn’t.
It’s good. That’s another thing that appealed to me about Sales and Trading. I start early but I finish early. I rarely work past 7 pm. I’ll check to see if the markets move because it’s good to be on point for the next day, but it’s not like some other businesses where you need to be on call all the time. It’s a very compact, intense day, and then you get to go home and have your weekends off.
I run a lot. I do yoga, I take life drawing classes, which I find very relaxing because it’s nice to just switch off and do something completely different from work. I was skiing this past weekend. It was the first time I’ve been skiing in the U.S., actually. I went to Lake Tahoe. There was great snow, so I really enjoyed that.