Check in to Trading – The skills needed

Here're the trading skills we're looking for - including those skills you can get from university and those you cannot learn from a book.

“Our graduates probably differ a little from the candidates in other parts of Nordea”, says Tina Solgaard, who’s reviewing the applicants who are seeking a graduate position in Nordea Markets. So why and in what way are our graduates different? And what’s required to get a seat on the trading floor?

One of our students, Katharina, interview two colleagues from the trading floor. Keep on reading as Tina and her colleague, Lars will let you in on what it takes while underlining that trading skills aren’t something you can learn from a book.

“The potential graduates who are interested in a position on the trading floor, typically don’t have any idea what it’s about and what it takes – and that may scare many off. Instead, they seek to Sales and end up advising our customers or they join Research”, tells Tina Solgaard, Head of Forward, FX Trading in Markets.

“So, we’re actually struggling a bit to attract graduates to Trading”, says Lars Bro, Chief Dealer, when quizzed about what’s required to become a graduate in Nordea Markets FICC, and specifically about working on the trading floor.

Being new in the banking industry, I had some prejudices about traders, and imaged a stereotype of men that I’ve seen in movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street”. After spending just a few hours on the trading floor in Copenhagen, I’ve changed my perception completely. It’s nothing like that at all. All I see is hard-working people with credibility and passion for what they do. At the same time, it’s without a doubt a fun and exciting place to work – no Wall Street stereotypes in sight here.

Learning by doing

“We’ve been doing a lot of branding and participate in various events to try to show people what trading really is about. Trading is many aspects, we’re “all over the place” – we’re both in sales, in analysis, and then there’s the core trading which in itself is highly self-scheduling and up-beat”, says Tina, who kick-started her trading career in 1989 where she checked in to Markets’ trading floor. At that time she had no experience in trading. But with great colleagues, the “right” personality and strong drive to go for it – “learning by doing” – Tina soon picked up on trading, and evidently advanced over the years.

“Gaining skills in trading isn’t something you can read your way to, and it’s not something that you can just sit down and become great at overnight; either you have it or you don’t. That said, a general understanding of the financial market is of course preferable – and being curious is key. If they have that “it”, we will teach our graduates all about trading“, Lars underlines.

To find the perfect match is key. “We are a small group, so it’s very important that we find the “right” person. It’s super important that we can work together and trust each other 100%. I think we stand out by being a bit indifferent when it comes to grades once the candidates have been screened and come for an interview. Our interviews rarely focus on testing whether or not they can do an interest rate swap, and if they understand it. Grades alone can’t do it – we focus more on the personality.”

Women to the trading floor

After two months employment as a student in Markets, I haven’t spent much time on the trading floor, so far, and now sitting here talking to Tina and Lars, I can’t help myself from asking, why there are so few women on the trading floor?

“It’s a good question,” Tina replies: “I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer – because I don’t get it. I’m sure though, that if they knew what it’s actually like to work here, more women would go for a position in Trading. So we do our best to inform “the world outside” about our world in Markets FICC Trading. We go for the best candidate, being male or female, but women are in high demand here in Trading”, tells Tina.

Lars nods, and says: “I think many people have an image of traders working from 6am to 10pm every day. But that’s not the case. There will of course be days where you occasionally have to work longer but Nordea Markets is also a place where you’ll find a great deal of flexibility, meaning we support each other and adjust accordingly”.

And that’s the norm on the trading floor; teamwork, close collaboration within and across units is paramount – also in Sales, tells Steen Grøndahl, Deputy Head of Financial Advisory, who sits a few meters away from Lars and Tina. Steen evaluates potential graduates for Sales, and if you’re interested in knowing what the expectations are to a graduate in Sales, click to read “The ideal graduate – we’re looking for you“.

Do you feel motivated to apply? We hope so. Especially if you are team-oriented, good a keeping it cool in stressful situations and eager to help us help you grow, and jump-start your career.

Look for internships, graduate, student or entry level position at

And don’t forget to read what some of the participanting students at Nordea Graduate Open House thought of the event and Nordea overall here.

Maybe I’ll see you on the trading floor…

/ Katharina

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