Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How To Become A Dealer / Sales Trader

Follow up on my posting on how to become an equity analyst, this one refers to the very uncertain, multi definition role of who and what a dealer is. It depends on the securities firm, whether they are players in the institutional business.

Let's start by defining the various dealing roles:

a) remisiers - you basically work for yourself, pass the required papers, put down at least RM50,000 or RM100,000 and you can start getting clients onto your account, you probably get 40-60 sharing on commission though some may even get 30-70, the latter being your share, you must treat this as your own business, so the question is what do you bring to the table, buying a stock from any remisier in town is the same thing, its not like buying fresh fish which may differ in quality from one stall to the other ... if you cannot clarify what your value adds are, then you will be a mediocre remisier, are you prepared to face the challenges where more and more people are trading on their own via the internet (yes, they can still be your client but the rates drop substantially)

b) company dealers - they are usually fresh grads trained inhouse to key in the orders once they have passed the requisite papers, if their skills is just in keying in orders with no client list, then they end up working for a dealer who does the sales and marketing, there are good company dealers in that they are quick and efficient, a crucial role in execution, to get to work in elite teams especially for big institutional dealing teams ... the person must be dependable, responsible, meticulous, good at math, can do some excel to tabulate average execution prices, etc...

c) dealers/dealing teams - you can be part of a dealing team that has been built by one or two enterprising dealers, they basically also work for themselves, salaries are deducted from group commissions, structure of profit share depends on negotiation skills and the kind of revenue you can generate, you get to look after private, corporate and institutional clients, again what are your value adds, if you cannot clarify them you will end up in a mediocre team ... the difference here is that usually the team do not need to put up any collateral, dealing teams are better in that you do not exist alone and has the support and newsflow and buy/sell flows from a cross section of the market, the bigger your team is the better the terms, some even get to carry positions over a few days

d) sales trader - top of the food chain, used to be called institutional dealers, but I think sales traders get paid better, employed solely by company but focuses on bigger clients usually foreign based, may concentrate on hedge funds type, usually exist only in the top tier houses and bank backed houses, the very big funds or indexed funds may only be allowed to trade with big top tiered firms and bank backed, sales traders are also part of the placement arm for IPOs and matching orders, must be able to take positions on books to bid/offer for blocks,  do switching strategies (e.g. sell KLK buy FGV) or reweighting by indexed funds

How To Start

Your parents did not spend RM50,000-RM100,000 a year for 3 years for you to come back and sit by a phone or just keying in orders into a terminal, almost like a receptionist. Many see the roles as the easiest way to earn a living. If you think like that, then I can guarantee you will be way below average.

Its a sales job. No matter how good you are if you are working from a second or third tier securities firm, you will never get the big institutional clients. Hence you need to get to a top tier house and positions there are usually not advertised. Usually they are filled by frustrated analysts, frustrated corporate finance people, frustrated xxxxxx within the securities firm. You need to know somebody who knows somebody to get the prime positions. Once inside a big top tier house, you won't want to move too often, and should only move horizontally to another top tier house.

If you are a good sales person, with good skills such as technical analysis, fundamental analysis, good spotter of movers, good trading instinct, has a good network of reliable information flow ... it doesn't matter much which type of securities firm you operate out of, then you are better off building your own team.

Best way for a fresh graduate is to join an established dealing team. You won't amount to anything being a company dealer at a third tier or fourth tier firm. The dealing team may throw you a few small clients to start with but you have to go and get your own to build your rolodex. Once you figure you have outgrown your team, then go and set up your own team. If you just rely on your team leader's clientele, you will be no more than a receptionist.

Can you learn to be a good dealer? Can you learn to be a good trader? To a certain extent yes, but that will never qualify you for success. It has to be inherent in your blood. You need to feel excited by the markets. You must want to better the markets. You must care about making the right calls. You must want to make a lot of money, not just want but really really want.

If you are a sales trader, then EQ skills are very important as you will be dealing with too many clients with big egos and small dicks. In fact that is the number one skill for a great sales trader, the other skills are just tools of trade.

So How ...

Must know why you want to become one. Must be passionate about the markets. Must like reading about stocks and business news, business personalities and business magazines. Must be open to abuse. Will need to handle high stress. Must be able to drink a bit. Must have a bit of an ego. Should be an alpha male for a guy and for a girl must be able to work with dickheads and around dickheads.

This posting ties in well with my previous take on ....

TUESDAY, JULY 17, 2012

How To Behave Like a Badass Sales Trader/Dealer/Broker

Getting into a dealing room is difficult in the first place. After the initiation period, you will have to behave accordingly in order to be a "stockbroker". Most of the behavioural traits will be inculcated via osmosis, but you can always learn some handy tricks.

Yell Occasionally - Its no point being a soft spoken, polite person, in a dealing room. You will be accorded no respect. You have to yell occasionally to voice urgency. Easy targets will be when speaking on the phone to back room or settlements - use phrases like "the deal is done, don't bother me again"; "don't bother me again, just cross it it"; etc... The other easy targets are your execution dealers, some choice phrases include: "just hit the bloody thing to the stupid buyers"; "what do you mean we are still above the average buying price, ..C'MON"; etc...

Foul Language - This is a given, its the vibe, its a must. If you are not using occasional foul language, your bosses and colleagues will think you never do deals big enough or have clients that are big swinging dicks (or dickheads in most cases). No need to do it over the phone as you try not to swear to your clients. Just pick up any research report and exclaim, "these fucking analysts know dick shit", you get the drift ... a good trick is to put the phone down and then yell "Fucker" or "Useless fucker", hey, you might not even be on the line with anyone, but your colleagues and bosses will think you are doing "good work". "Good work" meaning "taking shit from clients".

Slam the phone - You are not a good broker if you have never broken a phone before. Sometimes the PABX system board may be very expensive, in that case, take the receiver and just whack on the table a few times till it can be heard across the room. Nobody will mess with you cause you will be perceived as a badass broker-dealer-trader. Works every time.

Use Useless Abbreviations & Insiders' Lingo - Sprinkle it in your conversation especially among friends not from the industry. Examples: dog with fleas, dead cat bounce, GN4, PN17, ostrich, pig, sheep, DK, Bollinger, arb, bp, CAC40, CFD, DAX30, front loading, front running, alpha, gamma, beta, GTC, RRR, warehousing, Sharpe ratio, theta, XD ...etc..

Badass behaviour in the dealing room is accepted because you are all fighting for the same clients. Some orders you got is some orders the competition did not get. To maintain good service, acute attention must be given to order instructions and execution precision - hence if you have to ensure the down line gets the message, you will yell and shout and curse, as its your head thats on the chopping block, not theirs. 
Getting yelled at by clients are normal, and as the punching bag, you will have to take those punches. Once the phone is down, that accumulated stress has to go somewhere or you will get an early ulcer or some cancerous growth.

Drink like a Fish - Badasses drink almost every other day. Either you have a really bad day in the office - so, need a drink. Or you had a really good day - so, have to drink to celebrate. If you are not a constant drinker when you are a trader/dealer/broker, you'd probably never amount to much. But basically you have to drink like a fish to numb your soul for being around so much money thats not yours, so many assholes, so much false pretences and bad behaviour,and so many devious sycophants. 

If you have read The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, you will know that a badass broker/dealer/trade is a true  Machiavellian. A person  who "views and manipulates others" for "personal gain, often against the other's self-interest". By reputation, stockbrokers have manipulative personalities. So do people who sell cars or houses. Its really hard to differentiate between the three.

How To Comfort Yourself - When your clients lose money, its a terrible thing and you will feel bad (for a little while). This always helped me when I was one, you will snap out of it when you repeat the mantra "Well, it could have been worse, it could have been my money, or it could have been me". Always work wonders.

How To Comfort Clients - When clients faced losses, they need to be handled. Tell them, you also suffered losses in your personal account on the same stock. Tell them another fund/client had even bigger losses than them. 

At the end of the day, a badass broker/dealer/trader is a person with high EQ (when necessary) and thinks that there is a vast gap between truth and untruths. Do you lie ??? ..., well, we don't call it lies when we are withholding some facts, ...we don't call it lying when we over exaggerate the attractiveness of a stock, ... we don't call it lying when we underplay the risk, ... we don't call it lying when we shove a placement down a client's throat because we just have to get the thing off our books.

What does a hedge fund manager with no fund to manage say?
Would you like fries with that sir?

A stockbroker is someone who invests your money till it's all gone!


How to know you are not cut out to be badass:
- when you avoid calls from certain clients, if you can't face the music, you don't have the balls for the industry
- when you can't sleep well most nights worrying about positions
- when you look at yourself in the mirror coming home from work and you hate yourself
- when you feel like Spiderman in a bull market but feel like an idiot during a bear market (market cycles should have little effect on you emotionally, just the place you spend your holidays .. Mauritius or Redang)
- when you have no life apart from the markets

In the end, the financial markets, if you work in them, are just places where you help in the movement of funds from one to another. You live by the flickering lights on the screen. You stare at 4 screens the whole day and go home to stare at another screen, and if you are constantly on FB and Whatsapp, make that 6 screens - that is if you do not go to watch a movie, which would be 7 screens, what a life, screens the whole fucking day. In the end, you take your cut (or commission) with the movement of funds. You hope to value add in your service to clients via "good analysis" or "good execution" or "good information flow" ... mainly its all bull shit, and you know it too, and guess what, the client knows it too.