Hello! My name is Cynthia, and I work as a forex trader at a prop desk in a Kenyan bank. I started trading forex while studying for my master's degree at the Keller School of Management in Chicago, Illinois. I then moved to Kenya, where there are many job opportunities but a restricted market for forex trading. Often, people look down on forex trading, especially if you are a woman, and they assume it’s just about gambling money - which is not true!
Here’s how I got started trading for a bank…
Here's How I Got Started Trading for a Bank
Step 1: Education
- University of Nairobi
- Business school MBA
- Learning forex
When I was at the University of Nairobi, I really wanted to start trading. I got inspiration from Forbes magazine that showed forex traders on Wall Street. I didn't know how to start. My aunt worked for Barclays bank for over 15 years and told me about IB Kenya, which awarded me a scholarship to study in the US in 2011.
My interest in the forex market started in 2012 when I was still a university student. I had some savings and wanted to invest them in something that would earn more interest than a bank deposit. After researching some of the options available, I decided to try my hand at trading the forex market. It was a big learning curve at first, but after browsing some books from the library and carrying out lots of research online, I felt ready to begin trading. Soon afterward, I started with small amounts of money and made a few mistakes along the way.
My business school experience was life-changing, not because I mastered the intricacies of the forex market. My time spent there was great. The school's curriculum included basic finance, economics, and accounting courses that helped me build a foundation for understanding various markets. In business school, I got my first real taste of finance and suffered my first losses trading foreign exchange (forex) for the first time.
The business school provided me with a solid foundation in business concepts, theory, and practice. However, what I value most about my education is not so much what I learned as it is how I met people and gained experience. I learned about forex by reading books, attending training sessions, and attending seminars. I was also fortunate to train alongside people who had previously worked in the forex industry. Then, of course, there is a lot of practice.
After finishing my MBA, I felt ready to join the real world. Yet when I started looking for a job, recruiters essentially asked the same question: what have you got that we could 'sell' to a bank? That's when it dawned on me – after years of reading about different forex trading strategies, I need to have them all figured out!
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Step 2: Trainee Analyst Position
- Trainee analyst at the bank
- Hands-on forex training
I landed a role at a bank in 2015 as a trainee analyst in their forex department, working alongside more experienced colleagues. I applied for the position via my business school – I had a friend who had done work experience in a different department recommended to me to apply.
As a trainee in the Forex Sales Support team, you will be working alongside the numerous Senior Traders, Sales, and Relationship Managers, all of whom have over ten years of experience in the foreign exchange market. This business unit will also introduce you and provide training on some of the most popular platforms used to trade in the foreign exchange market, such as cTrader, BLUFX, Java Trader, and FXCM Trading Station.
You will also be expected to generate your leads and make your appointments to develop sustainable revenue. It was very educational, and I learned a lot about the financial markets - what companies do, why they go public, how they operate. I also had a mentor when I started and learned from him and gained some insight into trading.
I had about six months of hands-on training where I observed the traders before actually getting to trade on the live platform. Though I am currently working as an FX trader, I still actively trade for my own account. There is so much information that cannot be contained in a book or video tutorial. It helps to have some hands-on experience observing professionals trading and interacting directly.
The first thing I always recommend is finding a mentor. Not only did I have forex education from mentors, but also from attending webinars and conferences. When I wanted to learn more about trading different strategies, I would enroll in a conference held by the trading group that taught me their technique.
Step 3: Trading for a bank
- Moving from trainee role to trading full time for a bank
I started in a trainee position within the company and worked at this for just under two years. I was one of two women on a four-person team, and I was the junior person. I learned so much in a fun atmosphere with great co-workers, so when the opportunity presented itself to move from my trainee position to full-time, I jumped at it.
It's good to have a structured transition from the trainee role to the full-time position. The bank I was at made it clear from day one that they were only hiring trainees and not accepting applications to join them directly on a full-time basis, so this meant that after my two years were up, I could move onto other projects or opportunities within the bank.
I've been trading forex for a bank for several years now. I work with a team of traders, and we get asked all the time how to start trading forex. To be honest, you don't have to be employed by a bank to trade currency. Trading FX is fun. And good money can be made if done correctly.
I am a long-term market trend trader. I like to take a position and ride it until logical stops are hit. Trading for a bank is extremely similar in many ways, especially in risk management and my trading style. The critical difference is that I have much more money on the table. So I have to be very thorough when it comes to doing risk analysis and making sure that I don't blow up accounts since holding on to losing positions is not very fun, as we all know from experience.
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