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Former investment bank FX trader: some thoughts

Former investment bank FX trader: some thoughts
Hi guys,
I have been using reddit for years in my personal life (not trading!) and wanted to give something back in an area where i am an expert.
I worked at an investment bank for seven years and joined them as a graduate FX trader so have lots of professional experience, by which i mean I was trained and paid by a big institution to trade on their behalf. This is very different to being a full-time home trader, although that is not to discredit those guys, who can accumulate a good amount of experience/wisdom through self learning.
When I get time I'm going to write a mid-length posts on each topic for you guys along the lines of how i was trained. I guess there would be 15-20 topics in total so about 50-60 posts. Feel free to comment or ask questions.
The first topic is Risk Management and we'll cover it in three parts
Part I
  • Why it matters
  • Position sizing
  • Kelly
  • Using stops sensibly
  • Picking a clear level

Why it matters

The first rule of making money through trading is to ensure you do not lose money. Look at any serious hedge fund’s website and they’ll talk about their first priority being “preservation of investor capital.”
You have to keep it before you grow it.
Strangely, if you look at retail trading websites, for every one article on risk management there are probably fifty on trade selection. This is completely the wrong way around.
The great news is that this stuff is pretty simple and process-driven. Anyone can learn and follow best practices.
Seriously, avoiding mistakes is one of the most important things: there's not some holy grail system for finding winning trades, rather a routine and fairly boring set of processes that ensure that you are profitable, despite having plenty of losing trades alongside the winners.

Capital and position sizing

The first thing you have to know is how much capital you are working with. Let’s say you have $100,000 deposited. This is your maximum trading capital. Your trading capital is not the leveraged amount. It is the amount of money you have deposited and can withdraw or lose.
Position sizing is what ensures that a losing streak does not take you out of the market.
A rule of thumb is that one should risk no more than 2% of one’s account balance on an individual trade and no more than 8% of one’s account balance on a specific theme. We’ll look at why that’s a rule of thumb later. For now let’s just accept those numbers and look at examples.
So we have $100,000 in our account. And we wish to buy EURUSD. We should therefore not be risking more than 2% which $2,000.
We look at a technical chart and decide to leave a stop below the monthly low, which is 55 pips below market. We’ll come back to this in a bit. So what should our position size be?
We go to the calculator page, select Position Size and enter our details. There are many such calculators online - just google "Pip calculator".

https://preview.redd.it/y38zb666e5h51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=26e4fe569dc5c1f43ce4c746230c49b138691d14
So the appropriate size is a buy position of 363,636 EURUSD. If it reaches our stop level we know we’ll lose precisely $2,000 or 2% of our capital.
You should be using this calculator (or something similar) on every single trade so that you know your risk.
Now imagine that we have similar bets on EURJPY and EURGBP, which have also broken above moving averages. Clearly this EUR-momentum is a theme. If it works all three bets are likely to pay off. But if it goes wrong we are likely to lose on all three at once. We are going to look at this concept of correlation in more detail later.
The total amount of risk in our portfolio - if all of the trades on this EUR-momentum theme were to hit their stops - should not exceed $8,000 or 8% of total capital. This allows us to go big on themes we like without going bust when the theme does not work.
As we’ll see later, many traders only win on 40-60% of trades. So you have to accept losing trades will be common and ensure you size trades so they cannot ruin you.
Similarly, like poker players, we should risk more on trades we feel confident about and less on trades that seem less compelling. However, this should always be subject to overall position sizing constraints.
For example before you put on each trade you might rate the strength of your conviction in the trade and allocate a position size accordingly:

https://preview.redd.it/q2ea6rgae5h51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=4332cb8d0bbbc3d8db972c1f28e8189105393e5b
To keep yourself disciplined you should try to ensure that no more than one in twenty trades are graded exceptional and allocated 5% of account balance risk. It really should be a rare moment when all the stars align for you.
Notice that the nice thing about dealing in percentages is that it scales. Say you start out with $100,000 but end the year up 50% at $150,000. Now a 1% bet will risk $1,500 rather than $1,000. That makes sense as your capital has grown.
It is extremely common for retail accounts to blow-up by making only 4-5 losing trades because they are leveraged at 50:1 and have taken on far too large a position, relative to their account balance.
Consider that GBPUSD tends to move 1% each day. If you have an account balance of $10k then it would be crazy to take a position of $500k (50:1 leveraged). A 1% move on $500k is $5k.
Two perfectly regular down days in a row — or a single day’s move of 2% — and you will receive a margin call from the broker, have the account closed out, and have lost all your money.
Do not let this happen to you. Use position sizing discipline to protect yourself.

Kelly Criterion

If you’re wondering - why “about 2%” per trade? - that’s a fair question. Why not 0.5% or 10% or any other number?
The Kelly Criterion is a formula that was adapted for use in casinos. If you know the odds of winning and the expected pay-off, it tells you how much you should bet in each round.
This is harder than it sounds. Let’s say you could bet on a weighted coin flip, where it lands on heads 60% of the time and tails 40% of the time. The payout is $2 per $1 bet.
Well, absolutely you should bet. The odds are in your favour. But if you have, say, $100 it is less obvious how much you should bet to avoid ruin.
Say you bet $50, the odds that it could land on tails twice in a row are 16%. You could easily be out after the first two flips.
Equally, betting $1 is not going to maximise your advantage. The odds are 60/40 in your favour so only betting $1 is likely too conservative. The Kelly Criterion is a formula that produces the long-run optimal bet size, given the odds.
Applying the formula to forex trading looks like this:
Position size % = Winning trade % - ( (1- Winning trade %) / Risk-reward ratio
If you have recorded hundreds of trades in your journal - see next chapter - you can calculate what this outputs for you specifically.
If you don't have hundreds of trades then let’s assume some realistic defaults of Winning trade % being 30% and Risk-reward ratio being 3. The 3 implies your TP is 3x the distance of your stop from entry e.g. 300 pips take profit and 100 pips stop loss.
So that’s 0.3 - (1 - 0.3) / 3 = 6.6%.
Hold on a second. 6.6% of your account probably feels like a LOT to risk per trade.This is the main observation people have on Kelly: whilst it may optimise the long-run results it doesn’t take into account the pain of drawdowns. It is better thought of as the rational maximum limit. You needn’t go right up to the limit!
With a 30% winning trade ratio, the odds of you losing on four trades in a row is nearly one in four. That would result in a drawdown of nearly a quarter of your starting account balance. Could you really stomach that and put on the fifth trade, cool as ice? Most of us could not.
Accordingly people tend to reduce the bet size. For example, let’s say you know you would feel emotionally affected by losing 25% of your account.
Well, the simplest way is to divide the Kelly output by four. You have effectively hidden 75% of your account balance from Kelly and it is now optimised to avoid a total wipeout of just the 25% it can see.
This gives 6.6% / 4 = 1.65%. Of course different trading approaches and different risk appetites will provide different optimal bet sizes but as a rule of thumb something between 1-2% is appropriate for the style and risk appetite of most retail traders.
Incidentally be very wary of systems or traders who claim high winning trade % like 80%. Invariably these don’t pass a basic sense-check:
  • How many live trades have you done? Often they’ll have done only a handful of real trades and the rest are simulated backtests, which are overfitted. The model will soon die.
  • What is your risk-reward ratio on each trade? If you have a take profit $3 away and a stop loss $100 away, of course most trades will be winners. You will not be making money, however! In general most traders should trade smaller position sizes and less frequently than they do. If you are going to bias one way or the other, far better to start off too small.

How to use stop losses sensibly

Stop losses have a bad reputation amongst the retail community but are absolutely essential to risk management. No serious discretionary trader can operate without them.
A stop loss is a resting order, left with the broker, to automatically close your position if it reaches a certain price. For a recap on the various order types visit this chapter.
The valid concern with stop losses is that disreputable brokers look for a concentration of stops and then, when the market is close, whipsaw the price through the stop levels so that the clients ‘stop out’ and sell to the broker at a low rate before the market naturally comes back higher. This is referred to as ‘stop hunting’.
This would be extremely immoral behaviour and the way to guard against it is to use a highly reputable top-tier broker in a well regulated region such as the UK.
Why are stop losses so important? Well, there is no other way to manage risk with certainty.
You should always have a pre-determined stop loss before you put on a trade. Not having one is a recipe for disaster: you will find yourself emotionally attached to the trade as it goes against you and it will be extremely hard to cut the loss. This is a well known behavioural bias that we’ll explore in a later chapter.
Learning to take a loss and move on rationally is a key lesson for new traders.
A common mistake is to think of the market as a personal nemesis. The market, of course, is totally impersonal; it doesn’t care whether you make money or not.
Bruce Kovner, founder of the hedge fund Caxton Associates
There is an old saying amongst bank traders which is “losers average losers”.
It is tempting, having bought EURUSD and seeing it go lower, to buy more. Your average price will improve if you keep buying as it goes lower. If it was cheap before it must be a bargain now, right? Wrong.
Where does that end? Always have a pre-determined cut-off point which limits your risk. A level where you know the reason for the trade was proved ‘wrong’ ... and stick to it strictly. If you trade using discretion, use stops.

Picking a clear level

Where you leave your stop loss is key.
Typically traders will leave them at big technical levels such as recent highs or lows. For example if EURUSD is trading at 1.1250 and the recent month’s low is 1.1205 then leaving it just below at 1.1200 seems sensible.

If you were going long, just below the double bottom support zone seems like a sensible area to leave a stop
You want to give it a bit of breathing room as we know support zones often get challenged before the price rallies. This is because lots of traders identify the same zones. You won’t be the only one selling around 1.1200.
The “weak hands” who leave their sell stop order at exactly the level are likely to get taken out as the market tests the support. Those who leave it ten or fifteen pips below the level have more breathing room and will survive a quick test of the level before a resumed run-up.
Your timeframe and trading style clearly play a part. Here’s a candlestick chart (one candle is one day) for GBPUSD.

https://preview.redd.it/moyngdy4f5h51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=91af88da00dd3a09e202880d8029b0ddf04fb802
If you are putting on a trend-following trade you expect to hold for weeks then you need to have a stop loss that can withstand the daily noise. Look at the downtrend on the chart. There were plenty of days in which the price rallied 60 pips or more during the wider downtrend.
So having a really tight stop of, say, 25 pips that gets chopped up in noisy short-term moves is not going to work for this kind of trade. You need to use a wider stop and take a smaller position size, determined by the stop level.
There are several tools you can use to help you estimate what is a safe distance and we’ll look at those in the next section.
There are of course exceptions. For example, if you are doing range-break style trading you might have a really tight stop, set just below the previous range high.

https://preview.redd.it/ygy0tko7f5h51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=34af49da61c911befdc0db26af66f6c313556c81
Clearly then where you set stops will depend on your trading style as well as your holding horizons and the volatility of each instrument.
Here are some guidelines that can help:
  1. Use technical analysis to pick important levels (support, resistance, previous high/lows, moving averages etc.) as these provide clear exit and entry points on a trade.
  2. Ensure that the stop gives your trade enough room to breathe and reflects your timeframe and typical volatility of each pair. See next section.
  3. Always pick your stop level first. Then use a calculator to determine the appropriate lot size for the position, based on the % of your account balance you wish to risk on the trade.
So far we have talked about price-based stops. There is another sort which is more of a fundamental stop, used alongside - not instead of - price stops. If either breaks you’re out.
For example if you stop understanding why a product is going up or down and your fundamental thesis has been confirmed wrong, get out. For example, if you are long because you think the central bank is turning hawkish and AUDUSD is going to play catch up with rates … then you hear dovish noises from the central bank and the bond yields retrace lower and back in line with the currency - close your AUDUSD position. You already know your thesis was wrong. No need to give away more money to the market.

Coming up in part II

EDIT: part II here
Letting stops breathe
When to change a stop
Entering and exiting winning positions
Risk:reward ratios
Risk-adjusted returns

Coming up in part III

Squeezes and other risks
Market positioning
Bet correlation
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits

***
Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
submitted by getmrmarket to Forex [link] [comments]

[Table] IAmA Goldman Sachs Investment Banker AMAA

Verified? (This bot cannot verify AMAs just yet)
Date: 2013-01-12
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Link to my post
Questions Answers
I have a good friend who is a VP at your firm . They blamed the entire Financial crisis on ' poor people who could not afford their mortgages ' they said this was pretty much he opinion among the investment banks . How do you feel about what happened to Greece and Goldmans hand in it ? That is not true. Opinion is very much split within the investment banks and there is no right or wrong answer. I personally don't believe at all that the crisis was caused by 'poor people' - and I don't like that sort of categorization of people in the first place. There are perhaps 15/20 different institutions you could blame for the crisis, there's no way of isolating individuals. I'm not sure what exactly you think GS's hand in the Greece affair was. Of course it's a sad story and I feel remorseful - I recently donated £50,000 at a charity ball to help rebuild one of the islands which has almost been burned to the ground. But ultimately Greece employed GS at the time because they wanted to fudge their finances so as to meet entry requirements for the Euro i.e. the greek government was knowingly employing GS to help perform an extremely risky task - GS didn't force anything upon them. If the experiment explodes 10 years later (as it did), should GS really be the party to blame?
The next day, you are flipping through television channels and randomly come across a pre-season CFL game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Knowing your inevitable future, do you now watch it? Yes of course i fucking do. The future is inevitable. Chuck Klosterman i like your name.
I love seeing the ignorance that emerges in these AMA's relating to investment bankers. I am really interested in a career in either IB or Consulting, have a few questions for you. Thank you to fletch below for answering this question.
1) How did you cope with the hours? I like working hard, I like working for my money but I also like enjoying free time and having a social life. When working a 100 hours as an analyst that would certainly have to suffer 2)What were you academic results like through your degree? I'm currently in my second year and will be realistically looking at 2.2, 2.2, 2.1 and 2.1 (years 1-4). This summer I'd hope to get an accountancy internship in one of the big 4 followed by an internship next year in one of the large IBs. I know there's more to a candidate than solely their academic credentials + internship but would this stand me well for a BB in London? (Top Irish university, undergrad will be in Business and French) 3) What is it that makes you enjoy this job? I know the paycheck is certainly a bonus but you've said there's more to it than that? Whatever your breakdown between modules is, you need a 2.1 overall. Even if your average is 60% or 61%, that's enough to get you past the minimum requirements and through to interviews. After that it's up to you - they'll take someone with a good business mind and strong communications skills irrespective of whether they average 60 or 78 or 92. I disagree with him. My job is extremely rewarding and i wouldn't swap it for any other industry at the moment. If you want evidence of people enjoying their jobs look at the number of years they spend at their respective firms. Most of the partners at GS are 'home-grown' and have spent 20/30 years sweating away but don't regret it for a second.
Do you realize that in countries like Spain you're seen as an evil person that only wants to get profit and don't have any soul or feelings and probably kicks puppies for fun? If so, how do you feel about it? Yes and understand their anger but it should be re-directed to politicians!
Proof? and of course... how much did you make in 2012 approximately? Approx 600k. How do upload proof e.g. photo evidence?
Sorry, new to reddit!
Do you have free ticket for me? Always looking for handouts. What is it young people say, lolz??
I'm very curious of your opinion of Secretary Geithner's role in LIBOR. Do you think he was guilty? innocent? Thanks! LIBOR scandal is way too complicated to explain at 2.30 am after a few beers. Many active players are implicated and i think he will be seen in the wrong eventually like many others.
What hours do you work? Approx 80 hours a week not incl. flight time I go to festivals in Europe but would love to go it. Do you have free ticket for me?
If the concept and idea of a monetary system was replaced with something better (hypothetically) what would you do? As in for a career or what not since now you are jobless. Resources will always be scarce so someone will have to ensure an optimal allocation. There will always be a market of some kind whether it be a public market or an internal government one.
Hypothetically we could have unlimited power, molecular production, and master matteenergy conversion. Would that change your answer? Good interview question. I'll keep it in mind.
In your view, are there any regulations that could meaningfully alter the moral hazard typified by the 2008-2009 bailout of the financial sector? If so, what might they be? And if not, to what extent does regulatory capture play a role? Regulatory capture is a seriously problem not just in banking e.g. also in the energy business. How do you reduce it? It won't happen unless the public demand it, as everyone with power tends to benefit from it and so they won't make meaningful steps to change anything, i.e. its a win win situation for government and business. However it needs more than just 'occupy movements' but rather i am talking the mass voter population.
Have you seen @gselevator on twitter? if so have you ever contributed/is it legit? Haha yes i have seen it and no its not legit, well at least i think its not. Seriously though the elevator chats can be quite entertaining and revealing.
Do you use a mouse when you work on excel? Are you joking?
No.
In your opinion, do you think the money you make is worth the hell that you go through to make it? I love my job and so i am lucky that the money is not the only motivator.
But yes i love checking my bank balance at an atm.
How can i break into finance with a sub-par gpa? Network and try non BB firms.
A company founded by 100 duck sized horses. or A company founded by 1 horse sized duck? 100 duck sized horses every time. Basic risk management theory - don't put all your eggs in one basket. If that 1 horse sized duck isn't exceptional, your business is going down the tubes.
Prior to the collapse, did you have any idea what was about to happen? It was getting obvious that there was a bubble, but never predicted how great the fallout would be and that in 2013 we would still be suffering
What do you do day to day? I work in the energy field in Europe but don't want to get too specific. Day to day we advise natural resource companies on all things financial such as m&a and financing strategy and then execute on their behalf. So I am on the corporate finance side rather than sales and trading. However I work closely with the syndication and sales guys such as if we are executing an IPO or a follow-on share offering.
I have a buddy who's small but established clean tech company needs money building biodiesel manufacturing plants around the US that run off garbage and wood chips. The technology is actually coming from a company based in Sweden. Can you help him on the money side? Send me a link to their website.
I find clean tech very interesting.
How did you get your job? Did a summer internship then got FT conversion.
What college did you go to? I went to LSE (university in the UK)
What jobs did you work before getting this one? Did another internship whilst at university at an oil company.
At what age did you get this job? 22.
I hear the GS company culture is like " a frat on steriods" true or false? False more than true but depends on team.
Is it as cut throat as I have heard with the bottom 50% of people getting sacked each year to make way for new guys who will probably be sacked the year after? Bottom 5% is more accurate. 7-8% in a bad year, 3-4% in a good year. It's a fine line between 'cut throat' and having a 'healthy competitive atmosphere'. But we'd be out of business very quickly if we kept firing half of our staff every year...
Is there any stock I should look into in 2013? Long term or short term. Short term- African Barrick Gold. The chinese walked away and so the share price plunged and despite serious operational issues, the massive drop has presented a golden buying opportunity.
Long term- anything to avoid inflation, inflation scares the crap out of me and is going to be a big problem in the Uk and elsewhere in the future.
Also buy into soft commodity boom e.g. meat in africa, think zambeef etc if you can find an attractive entry point.
What's the best preparation for an interview with an i-bank? I'm over here in the states and come from a non-target. Read WSO, the forums are full of useful hints and tips especially for non target guys. Depending on what area you are applying for, make sure you know some really good examples and stock pitches as it is amazing how many candidates lack knowledge e.g. if applying for ECM for god sakes know some of the recent IPO's and likewise for equity research have good stock pitches and have conviction when presenting. Best of luck!
How important is your undergrad majogpa I'm double majoring in Econ/Conflict resolution studies with a possible minor in poly sci (depending on how the credits work out) I got a 3.9 gpa last semester but it only brought my overall gpa to a 2.4 because fuck klonopin. I should have at least a 3.0 by graduation, but I'm wondering its worth it to pay for and retake my first semester. Can I have $373 dollars? :D :D I promise only to get moderately drunk with this money. Sorry, a lot of questions, thanks for answering. Oh also, one last thing, all else being equal, is calc I enough math to apply for analyst job? or do I need more? Undergrad course choice is not that important for IBD but obviously for more quant roles you need maths skills Again i am sorry but i am not very clued up on GPA Ok i give you money but first you have to register yourself as a charity so that you can gift aid it and get much more!
Where did you go to college? LSE.
As an undergrad? How hard was it? I hear it's very difficult. Yes, undergrad.
Harder than most places depending on your course. Especially as you are competing with loads of kids from Asia who do extra calculus to relax.
How do you see regulation affecting the overall banking culture? Everything I have been reading and what people have been saying is that the culture is changing. Have you been seeing this? I recommend reading "The Culture of Success" by Lisa Endlich.
Also how do you like the goldman culture? Regulation is hurting us...but: Link to business.financialpost.com
How much total did you make in each of your years at the firm? I don't want to get into specifics.
But for your first three years as an analyst roughly 50k-70k (£ not $)
As an associate 120k-160k.
After that the numbers get exciting.
What tools do you use on a regular basis? Excel, Outlook, Excel, Outlook, Excel, Outlook...powerpoint.
What is the biggest reward of working in IB? Where I study, students with high grades are pushed to chase the prestigious internships firms like GS, MS, etc offer. Their reasoning why they chase these jobs is that they think it is the highest (prestige) in finance they can go or are attracted by the money. It seems shallow to me. What does IB offer that makes your career personally fulfilling? Why didn't you choose to work elsewhere? I find what i do at the front end of the energy sector fascinating. If your interested in business or globalisation or other similiar areas then IBD is pretty much at the cutting edge of it.
Thanks for the reply! When you were first starting out at GS, were you able to balance a personal life aside from your work? Has it gotten easier as you have gained more experience? Would you recommend IB as a field to pursue to your own children today? Thanks again! I'd say during my first 3 years as an analyst the 'balance' was almost non-existent i.e. i was regularly working 100+ hours/week. Since then it's become easier year by year and i think that's true for most. And yes certainly i would encourage my children to pursue it - not that i have any yet.
Where did you go to uni what was your gpa? how many physics majors work their? did you start off as an intern? sorry for rapid firing questions. LSE (london school of economics) - first class honours but don't know how that translates into GPA.
I know only 3/4 physics majors in the office at the moment.
Yes started as an intern.
Do banker run the world? how much political influence do they really have? It works two ways. Some bankers have their fingers in politics in a way they perhaps shouldn't. But equally many politicians have their fingers in banking and can force our hands.
How hard is it for a non ivy leager studying finance to get an entry level job at GS? what about internships? Tough. But with enough internship experience beforehand it's possible.
What do you think of Forex? Would you ever trade on it with your personal money? Difficult to answer - you can trade forex in a million different ways - some ways are more interesting than others. I don't personally trade it, but others forge a very successful career out of it.
What was your bets investment in? (If that's how it works) That's not really my role in IBD.
But outside GS I invested in the Shanghai property market a decade ago or so. My 4 flats there are now worth 10-12 times what they were worth then.
WTF caused the 2010 flash crash? Good question. Nobody knows for sure.
From the link you've provided, I find no.2 the most plausible explanation. But I would also add 6. UBS did something stupid again.
As hardcore capitalists what is your feeling about (management of) banks that seem to live under the impression that profits are for a happy few while losses should be carried by tax-payers? That's not what I believe at all.
And by the way all of us are tax payers too. The top 5% contribute approx. 50% of the government's taxation revenue. So if losses are being 'carried by tax-payers' - that doesn't exclude people in the banking industry by any means.
Matt Levin at Dealbreaker (former GS guy) describes Investment Bankers as "Travelling money salesmen". Do you feel that this description is apt? The operative word in your question is 'former'
Do you think that's how he described investment bankers whilst he was still with the firm?
People tend to get very bitter and sensitive after they get fired. See Gregg Smith for further evidence..
Is an MBA necessary to be competitive when looking for a job or is a B. Comm enough to compete with others when looking for jobs in the industry? Depends on what entry point - if you do an mba then you apply for associate entry whereas b.comm is an undergrad degree and so you apply for analyst roles. If you do a b.comm at a top university/college and get some internships then you should be well placed. Good luck!
Do any of your co-workers frequent Reddit? I imagine less than 0.1%.
Then again 2 people on this feed at least have claimed to be my co-workers, so who knows...
Since you're new to Reddit, what made you want to do an ama here? I'd like to alter the public perception of bankers - not all of us are the obnoxious greedy individuals you read about in the media.
I'm also extremely interested in hearing what non-finance people see as our key economic issues at the moment - this seemed a good way to find out.
Proof? How do i upload photos? i will upload photo proof. Sorry not very experienced with reddit!
I am a senior in high school and I am interested in majoring in either accounting or finance, but I don't think I know enough about either career path to make the best decision, can you explain the large differences the two paths I would go down depending on major, or any advice that may influence my decision that I would not know at this point? What you choose to study doesn't necessarily determine the industry you'll end up in. We have guys in the office who studied history, languages, even medicine. Just go for what interests you the most and focus on getting high marks.
Curious as to what kind of degree you hold/what was your GPA in college? BSc. Economics degree from LSE. First class honours, don't know about gpa
I used to work for the swiss banks and swiss stock market indirectly, and have a few friends in the banking business, including GS and Nakamura in London. What is your personall opinion on prostitution, cocaine, and medication misusage in your business? Also, also what is your stance on GS' questionable involvment in Backpage.com? With regards to backpage.com, the guys on the deal did not do their KYC checks properly. KYC checks are crucial for banks- your reputation and future success is more important than any single customer. Look up riggs bank and the Obiang family and then you'll see!
Possible. But realistically those kind of excuses are given no matter what really happened. For a company as big and powerful as GS I can only take it with a grain of salt. Are you content in the way GS does business from a moral point of view? It's either a pinch of salt, or a grain of sand...
Thanks. I'm not a native english speaker and have not used it regularly for years, so it's gotten pretty shit. Any chance you answer the other questions? Yes, apologies. I think some of our deals have been morally reprehensible in the past. The same goes for any major investment bank. But i think we've done a very good job in 'cleaning up our act' over the past few years and the public has played a large part in that. With any luck we will see a much healthier banking industry soon.
How accurate is what is said on the Twitter handle @GSElevator? It's grossly exaggerated, but not entirely inaccurate...
You guys got trolled hard. A GS IBD guy not knowing how to upload something to the internet? Seriously wtf. Probably some guy from wso who wanted to feel like he was "in". Link to i.imgur.com Just doing some work now! Link to i.imgur.com In case you wondered what Lloyd's signature looked like.
Is there anyway you can help me out, connections or anything, someone I should talk to to get a interview? Can you interview me, I shall forward you my resume! Private message me and we will discuss. Sure i can help you out. I know how tough it is for you guys who are trying to get in!
Any thoughts on the MSI/SSG mini-scandal this week? Yes but won't comment.
Very hush hush.
I also work for GS. Which building are you in? I'm based in PBC. Also IBD, North. Would do an AMA and provide proof. I'm in PBC too, moved from RC quite a few years ago. I'm not sure exactly what sort of proof i'm supposed to provide...?
Would you say you were groomed for this kind of work from a young age? LSE is an elite school. Did you go to elite private schools growing up or were you an exceptional student at a normal school? Yes, Jimmy groomed me from four years old
Do you like your job, or should i say career? Yes. If i did not then i would go and sail around the world again.
From your experience, how relevant is CFA nowdays? Definitely worth doing.
How large was your Xmas bonus and did it get taxed over 50%? See below - total comp was c.600k and yes taxed above 50%
You said in other replies that you were 22 when you got this job and make 600K now. How old are you now, and how long did it take you to get the that salary level? Is it all commission? Was analyst at 22 and then moved up the ranks. Just turned 30, feeling old now!.
Can you give some insight on the business model of Investment banking? (I have no clue to be honest) . And what does a portfolio manager do exactly? Portfolio manager is not IBD. He/she would work in investment management e.g. for blackrock or GSAM or a hedge fund.
I'm currently writing a thesis on the future of rentierism in the gulf with an emphasis on Saudi Arabia. I don't have much of an economic background apart from this, but the international energy market is obviously important to my research. Can you recommend any good (preferably free or low cost) primers and newsletters on the subject? Hmm there are many on energy market but not too sure about rentier specific ones. Will have a think. I did my university thesis on Saudi and so will have a dig around.
How do you live with yourself? Knowing that the company that you work for doesn't give a fuck about you or anybody. All they care about is money. They have ruined america many times over. Seriously, how do you live with yourself? Actually our business is dependent on America and more importantly the rest of the world's prosperity. So actually our interests are nicely aligned.
Link to www.rollingstone.com. Seems to me like your bosses and former bosses don't give a flying fuck about anyone but themselves. Can you name one good thing Sachs has done since you have been there? I think you meant 'don't give a flying fuck" in your comment.
Do you happen to work with quantitative analysts? Depends which deal we are working on. Sometimes we need them, other times we don't.
What's your retirement savings invested in? Property (international and uk), shares mainly through tax efficient ways e.g. isa and EIS, pensions and artwork.
No swiss bank account i am afraid.
"The first thing you'll realize is that they are extremely disciplined. You would never come across a Goldman employee, who would, after two or three beers, say "My colleagues are a bunch of dickheads" From Money and Power William D Cohan. What do you have to say about this? I agree with it.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in going into finance and is currently in university. What would you have liked to do in your time spent at LSE now looking back? Party more! You only live once. You can have that advice for free.
Thanks for the AMA. Do you know anybody I could speak with regarding interviewing and internship opportunities? Private message me.
Doing an AMAA are you putting your job at risk for releasing company secrets/opinions whatever? I've not released a single company secret.
Edit: added an A to AMA. There's nothing in my contract to say I can't express my own opinions.
What do the hopes and dreams of Americans taste like? Raspberry sorbet, in my opinion
What is your feeling on the separation of traditional banking and investment banking as is proposed by the FSA? I think overall it's sensible - Barclays being the best example of why they should be separated.
At GS specifically of course we're not involved in traditional retail banking at all so it's not the most pressing issue for us at the moment.
You mentioned 80 hour work weeks. Could you explain the timeline for your typical work day. Do you work 7 days per week? Is your work more project based where you go non stop and have some time off between projects? There's no typical working day - some days are 18 hours and others are 12. Depends entirely what stage of a deal we are at. Generally I work 5/6 days a week, but keep in email contact with the office 24/7.
Yes, entirely project based. But if we are doing our jobs properly there's not much 'time off' in between.
I'm currently on target for a 2:1 or a first at university in my economics degree. But due to a slight hiccup in my a-levels, in which i got A* A C, still managed to go to a top 10 university but do they look at the C, which was in maths. Your university grades are definitely more important. If you do well in a mathematical module at uni that will allay any fears they have about an A-level grade.
Do they look at a-level grades and expect a minimum maths grade? I'm not bad at maths by any means, just an unfortunate anomaly in the exam season. Which uni are you at and what do you study?
Manchester and economics BA - but i have econometric modules and another mathematical module for 2nd year. Any chance of switching it to a BSc? Immediately reassures employers about your quantitative skills..
Hello there, first of all I want to thank you for doing this AMA. I am a dutch college student and currently I'm writing an essay about the BRIC countries. I used your book to write down predictions of their economic future, and I'd like to ask: did you participate in writing that book? Are you referring to Jim O'Neill's book? I have a copy on my desk, but no I wasn't involved in writing it.
What do the guys at GS think about @gselevator? See same q&a earlier on!
How often do interns get recommended to come back? In a good year, approx. 50% of an intern class will get hired.
In a bad year (2008 for example) perhaps only 10% or 20%
Any opinion on Nautilus Minerals? Can't comment on that company i am afraid.
How do you feel about manipulating the currency markets to screw over the average retail trader? I don't know what you are talking about.
Have you ever seen American Psycho? Yes.
I am going to copy and paste this in an email and send it around my team. You will famous at the firm, well at least in my team in london anyway! Yes of course i fucking do. The future is inevitable. Chuck Klosterman i like your name. That would also be an awesome interview question! And i give them 5 secs to answer.
I highly doubt GS interns work for free. I've almost never heard of an internship in finance that didn't pay -- most firms I've encountered usually pay the same base wage as the first year full timer positions you are interning for. Interns in front office at GS in london get circa £42k pro rata. So not bad for a summer job and remember no tax as they are below threshold across the year!
Gold Mansachs. Not sure about that one.
I prefer Goldman Snachs, the name of our canteen.
Yes, Jimmy groomed me from four years old But yes went to a private boarding school before. Widening the diversity of applicants in IB is a key target for HCM.
What is the future of investment banking in a new world order where both governments and the people are fed up with the excesses that led us into this credit crisis. The industry is always evolving, that's what makes it an exciting industry to be in. I imagine it will take us a good few years to fully regain the trust of certain clients, but ultimately if this whole saga causes us to readdress our methods and practices to improve our service then in the long run it's a positive outcome.
PS. Do you not think people should be fed up with the governments too, as well as the banks?
Not OP but I can answer this as a 2012 intern who got converted for Programming. A Math degree is a good +. There are 2 ways. Either join in as a programmer, show your merit and change departments, ie move to Quant side. Other option is to get a MBA, and join the I-Banking dept you want. What's your name?
Do you have any books or resources you'd recommend the layman for learning investment skills (i.e. the wealthy barber) I ask because i feel there is a lot of crap out there and would like to genuinely learn. I have never heard of the wealthy barber.
Last updated: 2013-01-16 15:54 UTC
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