This is the first article in our new Graduate series; a blog series featuring some of our graduates who have kick-started their career with us. They joined us in the summer 2019, and during the next months, they will share their experiences, challenges, fun facts and successes at work. First in line is Matteo Conti telling about his live at the high-paced Markets Trading floor.
By Matteo Conti
My name is Matteo, I am 24 years old and come from Italy. I studied M.Sc. in Finance and Investments at Copenhagen Business School and graduated in 2018. At the same time in 2018, I started as a student here, and since July 2019, I have worked in Equity Cash Trading at Nordea Markets as part of the Graduate Programme.
I applied for the Nordea Graduate Programme because I reckoned it would be a learning journey, allowing me to meet a lot of diverse people within different areas of the bank. In this way, you get a great overview of the bank and build a strong network at the beginning of your career.
After five years of university, I was extremely excited to see how things work in practice. School gives you a very theoretical background, but there is a gap between theory and practice and I was thrilled to fill that gap. Today, I can state that this gap exists and it requires a lot of time to be filled, but connecting the dots between theory and practice is the thing that enriches me the most. And I surely get to do that here at Markets.
One of the few places in the world
Markets is one of the few places in the world that allows you to be a professional trader when you are only 24 years old. This is very special. People trust you and this gives you the chance to grow at a very fast pace, both personally and professionally. I owe a lot to my colleagues, especially my colleagues at my desk. Without them trusting me as much as they did in the beginning – and now – I would not have the same level of knowledge that I have today.
What surprised me the most was the level of trust and responsibility from senior employees to someone like me, who just finished university with no (or very little) experience. For example, if you want to become a trader in the US or the UK, the usual career path is being a Desk Analyst for an average of six years, which means supporting traders in their daily activities but without taking any relevant decision or responsibility. At Nordea, I more or less had the same responsibilities as my colleagues from day one – and that is very unique.
On my first day, my hope was to get the big picture of how Nordea Markets works and understand how Markets generates value thanks to the synergies among the different desks and divisions. Today, 170 days later, I’ve already achieved that goal thanks to a lot of great and super skilled people around me who have been willing to invest time in explaining what they are doing and how they are contributing to the success of Nordea Markets. Now, the goal is to put all the pieces together and use this knowledge to do my job to the best of my ability.
From student to core team member
I started working at Nordea in June 2018 as a Student in the Market Data Control team. I used to do Independent Price Verification on corporate and government bonds traded in Markets. This was not only my first job at Nordea but also my first job in finance. The transition from student to core team member was not that extreme. One of the most amazing things about Nordea is that students have some of the same responsibilities as the other team members, so the transition from being a student to becoming a full-time employee wasn’t that big.
The shift from middle office to front office has been more extreme, though. In middle office, it is hard to see how you are contributing to the success of the bank. On the other hand, in front office (and especially as a trader), you have an actual number at the end of the day that shows if and how much you are contributing. When I started as a student in 2018 I hoped to become a trader within four years. After only one year, I have achieved my dream. Now I hope to become a senior dealer in six years; but hopefully it will take less.
A ‘normal’ day at the trading floor
My work day starts around 6.45 am when I wake up and take a first look at how the Futures have performed over night – on my phone and still in bed. Then at 7.30 am there is a call with the analysts in Equity Research where we discuss the details about particular events that happened the previous day and/or today’s market events, debating how these could impact single names (stock) or indices. At around 8.30 am, I am sitting at my desk, getting ready for the market to open at 9 am. From 9 am to 5.30 pm, it is all about helping Sales to execute client orders, managing the risk in your book, and being ready for Trump’s tweets. The Swedish market closes at 5.30 pm and that is when the bell rings, announcing the end of a busy day.
The best part is the high-paced and extremely professional environment. You learn very fast how different players in the market are interconnected and you can easily see how you are contributing to the success of Nordea on a daily basis.
The work-life balance is pretty fair. On average, I work 45 hours per week, so no crazy working hours like on Wall Street or in London. Moreover, my job is strictly related to market hours, so when the market closes I do not have to think about it anymore and I can just switch off my brain.
A last minute decision – the best I’ve ever made
I actually ended up in Copenhagen quite randomly, but it has – by far – been the best decision I have ever made. My best friend and classmate back in Italy called me and told about the Master’s degree in Finance and Investments at Copenhagen Business School. He literally told me “It looks cool, it is free of charge and there is a scholarship if you work while you are studying”. That was the last day it was possible to apply for it, and I think I submitted my application about one hour before the deadline. Life is full of “sliding doors”, but I am very glad I did not miss this one.
I really like the international culture that you can feel in Copenhagen and the focus on a more sustainable world. There is a very progressive mindset of keeping an eye on the impact that we have on society. That is reflected in the working culture as well. There is a very flat hierarchy, which stresses the equality among all employees. Italy is quite the opposite. Do not get me wrong, Italy is a country with wonderful culture and traditions, no doubt about that, but after you have lived in Denmark for a couple of years it is quite hard going back for good.
The most exciting and enriching experience
I could definitely see myself working here after the completion of the Graduate Programme – no doubt about that. I love the work environment here at Nordea, and especially, I like the people I work with. They are willing to help and listen to you anytime.
Working at Nordea Markets as a trader has been – and still is – the most exciting and enriching experience I have ever had, and all of this has been possible thanks to the Graduate Programme. I really suggest to any student with a strong passion and genuine interest in financial markets to apply for the Graduate Programme. Sometimes it is going to be hard, but the luggage of experience, the work, the people, is invaluable.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more inspirational blogs about the life at Markets from a graduate perspective. In the meantime, check out what working at the trading floor in Copenhagen is like or have a look at some of our previous blogs from the interns in Oslo, our summer interns in Stockholm and this year’s FFPs in Helsinki.
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