I’ve been asked a few times to give an overview of a typical day in the life as a trader. As you will see, the hours are long and there is a significant amount of work required to maintain a basic competency. Hopefully this will give you an idea of the level of hard work and the hours that must be put in to remain a consistently profitable trader.
The hours are not long just for the sake of it, the hours are long because there is opportunity to make money at each of these times. It is a choice rather than an obligation. If you don’t want to work you don’t have to. The hours look really long on paper but if you manage your time well you have an unrivaled amount of freedom to do what you want. Each day is different and is structured around the big market moving events of the day. All times are Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
6:25 – 7:00 – Arrive into the office and check overnight positions if any. Check with the risk department that they see the same positions. Look for big technical levels and trends and highlight them on the charts. Review trading journal from day before and outline what can be done differently. Read the headline news from various sources and see what happened in the US and Asian markets overnight. Check the economic calendar and make yourself aware of the major market moving events of the day.
7:00 – 9:30 – Trade until it gets quiet. Trade around this time is focused on European Equities and European Fixed Income and Energies. This is one of the most active trading periods for European products.
9:30 – 13:00 – Downtime. Markets are typically quiet until U.S. traders gets out of bed. Any quiet periods in the market are used to take a break or catch up on research. Review your trading goals and research goals. If you plan on working long hours take a longer break. Get some exercise in. Exercise is encouraged because it helps improve decision making throughout the day. If you have time, build up a network of traders to discuss strategies and trading ideas.
13:00 – 13:30 – Prepare for afternoon trade. What are the big afternoon economic figures, what were the previous numbers and what are the expected numbers, how will they affect markets. The first US economic data of the day typically comes out at 13:30 GMT.
13:30 – 14:00 – Trade around the economic figures. The energy pit opens at 14:00 where volume in energies pick up. If things are quiet get a quick break in.
14:00 – 17:00 – The US cash markets open at 14:30, Ags also re-open at this time and can often be quite busy. The European cash markets close at 16:30. This time is all used for trading.
17:00 – 19:00 – Downtime. If things are quiet I’ll leave the office and trade the rest of the day from home.
19:00 – 21:00 – Trading time. Volatility picks up in the energy markets around the energy close at 19:30. Cash US Equities close at 21:00 with trading in and around these times.
21:00 – 21:15 – Review your performance. Traders never leave their desk until they’ve done their trading analysis. This is a great habit to get into that forces you to review your trading even when you want to do it the least.