Here's a look at a day in the life of a sales-trader, given to us by an associate in the Equities division at Lehman Brothers.
6:30 Get into work. Check voice mail and e-mail. Chat with some people at your desk about the headlines in the Journal.
7:15 Equities morning call. You find out what's up to sell. ("I'm sort of a liaison between the accounts [clients] and the block traders. What I do is help traders execute their trading strategies, give them market color. If they want something I try to find the other side of the trade. Or if I have stuff available, I get info out, without exposing what we have.")
9:30 Markets open. You hit the phones. ("You want to make outgoing calls, you don't really want people to call you. I'm calling my clients, telling them what research is relevant to them, and what merchandise I have, if there's any news on any of their positions.")
10:00 More calls. ("I usually have about 35 different clients. It's always listed equities, but it's a huge range of equities. The client can be a buyer or seller - there's one sales-trader representing a buyer, another representing the seller.")
10:30 On the phone with another Lehman trader, trying to satisfy a client. ("If they have questions in another product, I'll try to help them out.")
11:00 Calling another client. ("It's a trader at the other end, receiving discussions from portfolio manager; their discretion varies from client to client.")
12:00 You hear a call for the sale for a stock that several of your clients are keen on acquiring. ("It's usually a block trader, although sometimes it's another sales-trader. The announcement comes 'over the top,' - over the speaker. It also comes on my computer.")
12:30 Food from the deli comes in. (You can't go to the bathroom sometimes, say you're working 10 orders, you want to see every stock. We don't leave to get our lunch, we order lunch in.")
1:00 Watching your terminal ("There's a lot of action. If there's 200,000 shares trade in your name [a stock that a client has a position in or wants] and it's not you, you want to go back to your client and say who it was.)
2:00 Taking a call from a client. ("You can't miss a beat, you are literally in your seat all day.")
2:05 You tell the client that you have some stock he had indicated interest in previously, but you don't let him know how much you can unload. ("It's a lot of how to get a trade done without disclosing anything that's going to hurt the account. If you have to one stock is up you don't want the whole Street to know, or it'll drive down the price.")
4:30 Head home to rest a bit before going out. ("I leave at 4:30 or sometimes 5:00. It depends.")
7:00 Meet a buy-side trader, one of your clients, at a bar. ("We entertain a lot of buy-side traders - dinner, we go to baseball games, we go to bars. Maybe this happens once or twice a week.")