For the second instalment of our four-part trader series, we spoke to Mahmoud, an accomplished broker trader based in IMC Amsterdam.
Having begun his career in London at a major investment bank, Mahmoud quickly found his place in broker trading after making the move to IMC. We talked about what it takes to be a great IMC broker trader.
Mahmoud describes broker traders as ‘the face and the voice of IMC’. Most of IMC’s interaction with the world’s markets occurs through screens and via algorithms. Broker traders interact directly with people outside IMC, and in that way, they play a unique role within our industry.
For Mahmoud, the most vital characteristic of an effective broker trader is their communication skills. He says, “Having good people skills is imperative. [As a broker trader] you become a master of game theory. You deal with people, learn how to treat them and how to negotiate, because that’s what broker trading comes down to – every time you do a trade or a deal, you’re negotiating, thinking two steps ahead. Where or how can I find value?”
It’s not all about managing external relationships, though. Broker traders must also understand the whole market in order to make smart assessments of pricing and valuations. To gain that breadth of understanding, all of our traders work closely together, both feeding into and translating the broker traders’ insight into IMC’s electronic trading strategies.
That level of collaboration encourages open discussion, providing a forum for all our traders to come up with ideas to improve our systems. "Some of us get a lot of exposure to external counterparties, while others look more closely at screen trades and execution. Some of us are practical and some are abstract, so it’s important that we are able to articulate our ideas and work closely together to put them into action,” Mahmoud says.
For prospective graduates and interns, understanding of the industry and its systems will come. What you can start to explore now, though, is an understanding of yourself. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Mahmoud believes that extroverted people – those who draw their energy from interacting with others – are better suited to broker trading, whereas introverts might be more successful conducting analysis or creating algorithms. He credits his own extroverted nature with his success as a broker trader. “I like communication. I like to have banter. I like to roll my sleeves up, get my hands dirty and trade. It makes me feel more alive.”
In the meantime, Mahmoud’s advice to budding IMC traders is to intern as much and as widely as possible, and to trust that if you end up at IMC, you won’t be left to work out your future alone. “IMC invests a great deal in your personal development, and if they think you’re on a certain trajectory, they’ll put you on the right course and get you there quickly. It’s how you embrace the freedom you have to voice your ideas that will shape your future here. If you’re a go-getter, the world is your oyster.”
Explore current opportunities for interns and graduate traders and if you missed Part 1 in the series? Read it here.