Kevin Bernbaum, Derivatives and Fixed-income Trader

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Woke up, fell out of bed,

Dragged a comb across my head

Found my coat, grabbed my hat

Made the bus in seconds flat...

7am: Reality! Delays on the Northern Line. Wait at Golders Green Tube station watching the opening of the European markets on my futures pager. Good, the market is weaker after overnight falls in the US Long Bond. I went home short of UK government gilts last night.

7.40am: Arrive at WestLB's offices, having read the business and sports pages of The Times and Financial Times. The brightly lit dealing floor is filled with rows of desks, each of which has three computer screens, two telephone handsets and a bank of speaker boxes.

There is a low hum of noise as the brokers fire prices into the room and pitch for business. I am one of the last to arrive - one of the benefits of trading sterling swaps: the market opens one hour after the rest of Europe.

8am: By now I have checked the opening levels for the sterling market, read some favourite commentary pages on Reuters and the internet and quoted to my swap brokers some suggested levels on where I can trade.

I already have my risk position report ready from last night and loaded on my PC.

8.15am: Typical. Every other market is suffering but gilts are only a shade lower. I have made money on my short gilt position, but nowhere near as much as I had hoped and now other markets are starting to rally.

I decide to take my profit by receiving a swap. Show an offer to my swap broker and he lifts it. We check the amount, 25m, as well as the lines of credit between WestLB and the other bank.

All agreed. I have my hedge and now have a total position of 75m between swaps and gilts. I know we have a client who wants this position. Our marketing people will contact him later.

9am: Market all quiet ahead of UK economic data release.

9.30am: Time to fetch a coffee.

9.31am: Keep my futures broker on the phone as the economic numbers flash across the Reuters screen - worse than expected.

Try to sell futures, no luck. No liquidity in the market. It soon settles at new lower levels. Very lucky. I fancied the numbers to be good, but the courage of my convictions not that strong, had I been long - a loser!

Better still, the gilts have fared worse than the swaps, so my position is now more valuable.

10am: We have contacted the client. He wants me to buy back my short gilt position and he will also take my long swap position - ideal. The only drawback is that he wants to trade in 100m. If the price is right, I can't see any problem.

10.30am: Start to show prices to the client. I am asked immediately by three brokers what I believe the price to be the client must be checking with other banks. We are in a beauty parade, I want to win this, to square up my book and lock in my profit.

11.30am: After several dry runs and after cajoling the client we are down to being one of the last two banks left on the catwalk.

12pm: The client is finally ready to trade. We tighten our price one last time and win the trade. We have squared our 75m position and gone the other way on the balance of 25m. Having agreed and booked all the tickets into our risk management system, it is time for lunch - a sandwich and juice at my desk.

12.30pm: It's quiet, a bond salesman wanders over and asks if I have any interest to bid for a long dated gilt which a client of his is selling. I see the chance to scalp a small profit. Sellers of these gilts have been few and far between of late. Check my pricing model, check the market, show a bid to the client - he sells.

The gilt market is notoriously thin and our client has obviously told the market of the trade - all liquidity disappears. I calculate that in the time between putting down one telephone handset and picking up another I have lost 60,000. Not very clever. Curse very loudly!

It is a salutary lesson. As a hedge I sell gilt futures and because their liquidity is minimal, by default sell Euro Bund futures too.

1.30pm: No data from America today, hopefully it will be a quiet afternoon. 2pm: My cash gilt, gilt and Bund future position has stabilised and now the loss is slowly eroding.

2.45pm: Thankfully a buyer for my gilts materialises. I will make a loss on them but the Bund has underperformed in the interim and the profit will just subsidise the loss. Transact. After all that a mere 5,000 profit - very grateful, but was it worth it?

3.30pm: Sign off previous day's profit numbers reconciled to final report. No late adjustments to last night's figures.

4pm: Market closes. Enter closing prices into our risk management system. These are independently verified, so no chance of a Nick Leeson here. Have a spare moment - time to socialise and try a crossword.

5.30pm: Get the initial profit and loss estimates from finance. They look alright and correspond with my estimate. We have had a good day. Risk positions look right too, so no reconciling for me tonight.

6pm: Load new risk positions into my PC, ready for the morning. Just that 25m on the books. Didn't get a chance to square that one. Will try again tomorrow.

6.15pm: Alt Ctrl Del Logoff.

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