I realised investment banking was for me when I did an internship at Goldman Sachs in my penultimate year of university. I liked the fact that I was given real responsibility from the beginning, and that my work was genuinely appreciated. But more importantly, team morale was very high and, although everyone is serious about their work, they're always up for a laugh and it's a fun atmosphere to work in.
I studied Finance at the University of Cape Town, so I had some good background knowledge for my job, but I still had a lot to learn. When I joined the bank as an analyst I went to New York with the other graduate recruits to learn about the bank's culture, and I received training specific to my role in operations. Then, when I started on the listed derivatives desk one of my team members trained me on the job. I learnt that it's important to always ask questions and take advantage of the knowledge and expertise within your team.
Communication is the most important aspect of my current role. I deal with agreements between our clients and brokers, so on a daily basis I speak to our sales desks, external brokers, other operations teams within the bank, and sometimes directly to the clients. There are nine people in my team, and we're always talking on the desk! I have meetings and discussions with them every day, and I also communicate with the listed derivatives teams in the US and India on a daily basis, either by email or conference call. The opportunity to interact with lots of different parties is what I enjoy most about my job.
The structure of my day isn't always the same. Usually I'm involved in ongoing projects with my team, but things come into play every day that you can't anticipate, so we use risk analysis to decide what to prioritise. When a query from a client or another team comes through, you have to ask yourself and assess, "If I don't answer this now, what could happen?" At first, time management and prioritisation were my biggest challenges, but my managers supported me by telling me what to focus on, and it became easier to assess what's urgent. I work hard, but I am still able to meet friends for dinner or go to language or dance classes in the evening.
I joined Goldman Sachs 18 months ago, and my role has grown a lot since then. I'm still in the same team, but I've moved from data management to dealing with customer agreements. I've also started working on agreements for our US clients, in addition to European and EMEA clients. My managers are very hands-on and they always look out for new opportunities for me and ask what I'm interested in doing.
I strongly encourage students interested in a career in investment banking to apply for an internship, because it's the best preparation for a graduate role. It's also important to get involved in societies or sports at university. The job market is very competitive, and when you have interviews you need to be able to draw on your experience and provide examples of teamwork and leadership.
I arrive at the office and grab some breakfast from the canteen. While eating breakfast at my desk, I check my inbox and calendar and set my priorities for the day.
I work on some trading agreement requests for our New York team. I co-ordinate information from internal parties, including the sales desks and account opening teams, and also external parties, such as other brokers. By completing queries from US-based clients early, they have the information before they even get to the office.
I have a one-to-one meeting with my manager. I regularly meet with my managers to discuss my career and projects I'm working on and generally catch up. It's a good way to keep communication lines open.
It's lunchtime and we're having an international food festival! My team is very diverse, so we decided to each bring food from our culture to share with everyone. I brought some South African cuisine, but there was also food from Malta, Portugal, England, India and France.
I receive an urgent call from one of the main brokers we deal with, as they want to set up an agreement for a mutual client. This agreement allows our clients to do a two part trade where one half is completed by Goldman Sachs and the other part is completed by another firm. I check the document they have drafted and obtain the client's signature, and I alert my manager so she is aware of all the urgent issues.
I host a global call. Listed Derivatives has team members located across various regions, including London, New York, Chicago and Bangalore. I host this call once a month to discuss the events and projects happening in each region.
I send a status update report to a client about some work we're completing for them. This client recently asked us to update their existing agreements and the report shows which agreements have been completed and which ones are still pending action. It's always important to post updates on your progress so clients know their issues are still a priority for you.
I work on a risk report for my team, which involves collating various pieces of information from our systems. This particular report highlights to management any trades that we have not earned commission on because of agreements that are still pending. Management can then assess the next steps to minimise the financial impact.
I complete some end of day checks for the team. We put a lot of emphasis on risk management, so performing these daily checks is an important part of my role.
The day is done. I head off to Spanish class with my friend.