Learning From Traders That Made It (Part 5)

03/21/2008 12:00 am EST

Focus:

Timothy Morge

President, MarketGeometry.com

On bonus day, I called Mark into my office and gave him his check. Traders generally opened their checks right in front of me and then gave me some positive or negative feedback, depending on what they were expecting to find in their envelope. Mark didn't open his; he folded his envelope in half and put it in his shirt pocket. Then he asked me if I had a minute to talk.

He told me his fiance had just graduated from law school at the top of her class and she immediately got an offer to join a top Atlanta law firm as a partner.

Let me point out Mark's hard work and dedication again right here: while he was in Chicago learning to be a trader, his fiance was finishing undergraduate and law school out east; at best, they saw each other four or five times a year. But none of us on the desk ever heard him talk about it or complain about it. He just did what he had to do until they were both out of school.

I asked Mark what impact the offer had on him and he went right to the point: he told me her offer contained a very large signing bonus, as well as a very large salary. The couple would have no problem living on her salary alone if she took the job. But there were no banks with major currency trading desks in Atlanta. If she took the job and they got married, he'd have to move to Atlanta. If he wanted to keep trading at a major bank, he'd have to ask her to look at other job offers. I still wasn't sure what Mark wanted from me.

And then he looked me in the eyes and asked the question he had on his mind: he wanted to know if I thought he was a good enough trader to trade his own money, away from any bank's trading desk. And he didn't want to be a trader that was 'just good enough to get by'. He had a taste of being a senior trader on a major bank's currency desk. He didn't want to go sit on the bench at home and pretend to be a trader while his wife made lots of money as a lawyer. Did I think he could make it on his own?

I asked him to tell me what his intuitions told him, since they were so right about his professional basketball career and about trying to make it as a trader. He said his heart told him he was ready. He'd make it on the first team. But he needed to know what I thought. He looked right at me then, waiting for my thoughts.

I told him, 'Mark, I think I'm going to need to interview yen traders tomorrow. And by the way, I accept your two-week resignation. The two weeks are on me. Go give your fiance a great big hug and go find a nice place in Atlanta. I'm sure you'll do great on your own.'

I came around the desk to shake his hand but before I could hold out my hand, he gave me a huge hug and then whispered, 'thanks, Tim.'

Mark is still a successful professional trader in Atlanta. He trades his own money and every once in a great while, I see him when I go through Atlanta and we talk about basketball and trading.

More in part 6 Monday Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4  |  Part 5  |  Part 6

Best,

Timothy Morge

www.medianline.com
www.marketgeometry.com

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