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What does a trader do at Citadel Securities? This is the life of an MIT graduate in New York City

Jessica Lee is a trader at Citadel Securities. She graduated from MIT with a degree in mathematics and computer science and joined the firm in 2022 after completing an internship there the previous summer. This is what a day in her life looks like.  


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07.00. I usually wake up around 7am and the first thing I do is check my phone to see if any news related to my trades broke overnight. I don’t need to get up super early in the mornings because I’m focused on the US markets, which open at 9.30am. I live close to the New York office, and it only takes me about 10 minutes to get to work on the subway. I really enjoy having such an easy commute.  

08.00. I arrive in the office. I’m an event-driven trader, which means that I trade around corporate actions like M&A restructuring, or the issuance of new shares. I analyze these events with an eye toward determining the effect of the action on the company’s stock price and then I invest accordingly. I follow a more limited number of stocks than some other traders because I am very focused on those in the midst of special situations.

I usually start the day by familiarizing myself with what happened overnight with the event we’re looking at. We typically have a morning meeting, but the nature of it varies from day to day. Once a week, for example, we have a forum where junior traders discuss research or interesting things we’ve read. Other days, we’ll have research meetings where we’ll talk to quant researchers, developers and traders about what they’re working on and get their perspectives on our trades.

09.00. When the meeting is over, I’ll usually connect with one of the analysts I work with. We talk through sell-side research and other earnings news. I have a great group of colleagues and really enjoy bouncing ideas off of them and getting the benefit of their perspective.

09.30. I spend some more time on research. I’m a trader, but trading and research are very intertwined here. As a trader, I look at one-off events that haven’t often happened in history. Sometimes the corporate actions that I trade have only happened a few times in the past decade, for example. Because of this, there isn’t enough data to refine and fit a model, so we need a hypothesis on why a particular outcome occurred. I’ll develop this hypothesis from looking at color from analysts and gauging what others think of those historic trades.

10.30. I’m monitoring my risk on some of our existing trades. We don’t trade often and it can take a month or more for our trades to fully elapse, and I closely monitor them until they do. Our trades might involve, for example, a very specific instance of M&A in which our opinion is different from the market’s prevailing view. As the deal evolves, we may alter the size of our trade as new information becomes available and our opinions change. Throughout the day, I’ll research our positions and will manually tweak the trade if my opinion changes. 

11.00. I’m working on a risk tool. We have a lot of tools for managing risk within the firm, but sometimes I’ll also develop tools that are specific to a deal. I might build something out in Python or Excel and share it with a few other analysts on the team to use too. When we don’t have trades on, I’ll work with the quantitative researchers to try to build a systematic strategy around other trades – there’s always work to be done and opportunities to improve our processes.

12.00. I usually eat around noon. We have food in the kitchen, including a main course that changes daily, a salad bar, sandwiches, and soup, and I’ll either grab lunch there or a few times a month my desk will order in.

13.00. I’m monitoring our trades again. We often have multiple trades happening at once, and I’ll keep liaising with the analysts to get their opinions on how they’re evolving. It’s always good to have multiple eyes on something and I’m fortunate to work with and learn from some of the best in the business. I manage the risk in the book after consulting with the team.

14.00. I have a meeting with my manager, my manager’s manager, the head of desk and the analyst I work with. The meeting is focused on a large trade I’m proposing. These meetings happen before every big trade I put on. I go through my proposal and explain my thinking. The head of the desk always reviews my proposals in great detail and provides helpful feedback. 

14.30. I’m back at my desk, monitoring our risk and refining my trade ideas.  

16.30. We’ll often have a few trade recap meetings in the afternoon. The equities desk is split between different types of traders. I trade corporate actions, but we also have ADR (American Depositary Receipt) traders, for example. The trade recap meetings are an opportunity to learn how different traders think about trading the risks we’re all managing. They’re always interesting and I often come away learning something new that I can incorporate in my own work.

17.30. I get together with some of my colleagues for a paper club. This is where quantitative researchers and traders discuss recent financial literature and interesting concepts in equity research. In one of the recent paper clubs, for example, we had a discussion of transaction costs in trading and we looked at a paper that used game theory to help model trading costs. My colleagues and I are passionate about what we do, so these conversations are usually pretty enjoyable and useful too.

18.30. I usually leave the office between 6pm and 7pm. I might spend some time afterwards at an event that has been organized by the firm – recently that’s included movie screenings, sporting events, and private museum viewings – or I’ll just get some exercise. I like to play volleyball, so I do that with some regularity. Once markets are closed, I generally don’t have to check my computer or keep monitoring my risks unless there’s a very specific event we’re expecting. I like being able to leave work at work and switch off until the next morning!

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: +44 7537 182250 (SMS, Whatsapp or voicemail). Telegram: @SarahButcher. Or email Signal also available.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Bi
    19 June 2024

    The statements of the obvious make me wonder if these are real people;

    "12.00. I usually eat around noon." And that is why twayders make money - executing tautologies......

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