Strategy & Planning Associate
Many of the required skills you need for a job in trading or investment banking are taught in school. Often though, the skills that separate the best from the rest aren’t taught in a classroom, they are developed by participating on sport teams and other extracurricular activities and hobbies. For the subject of our most recent podcast, he honed the skills that would make him a great trader playing poker.
TP, an equity trader for one of Canada’s largest banks, explains that before he found his path in the world of finance he initially pursued a career as a professional poker player. During our interview, TP gives an amazing analogy between what makes a successful poker player and a successful trader.
In poker you can know the cards, the game, the math and the probabilities but that doesn’t make you a good poker player. A good poker player must be able to make good decisions under pressure by analyzing multiple factors at once: odds, math, prospects and the other people at the table. To be a great poker player you have to know the right time to bluff, understand when someone else is bluffing and know when you need to call.
These are the same skills you need to be successful at trading. As a trader, you need to be able to make fast decisions based on multiple economic factors, odds, math, stress and people. As in poker, you can understand the math, the odds and the models but you need to be able to use your intuition to read between the lines and understand if this is a good trade or not. Is your client telling you they have only 100,000 shares to sell, when they really have a million? Just like in poker you have to know the right time to bluff, understand when someone else is bluffing and know when you need to call. Being able to combine all of these abilities is what makes someone successful.
You need to be able to draw on your experiences outside of the classroom to help you be successful in your career. No matter your background, the principles that made you successful in the past can translate into success today.
When I was in grade 2, I used to ask people to pay for an independent newspaper that I delivered. People were not required to pay for it, but voluntary payment was how this independent newspaper survived (much like donations for Wikipedia). The owner was no fool; he paid me $0.75 for every $2 collected, so I was highly incentivized to sell. This experienced was great opportunity for me to learn how to talk to adults and more importantly, how to ask them for money. No matter how often someone had said no in the past, I would knock on their door every month and ask them if they would like to pay for the paper. It was here in grade 2 that I learned that persistence and finding common ground with clients is crucial to making a sale.
Whether it’s teamwork, playing chess, improv acting, poker or collecting for your newspaper route you have to be able to identify the valuable traits you have picked up along the way and apply them to your current ventures. Otherwise you are wasting a lifetime of lessons learned!
Originally published on breakingbaystreet.com
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