Sophia Mastrell is an equity derivatives trader on the convertible bonds desk at Goldman Sachs in Paris. She joined in 2021 after graduating from Copenhagen Business School with a degree in International Business. Sophia participated in the women’s trader academy at Goldman, an initiative for young women who are interested in learning more about a career in trading, before completing a summer internship and then joining full time after graduating.
7.15am. I wake up and get out of bed. I’m not a huge morning person, so I don’t get up much earlier than this! I still have time to get ready; I head into the office and grab some breakfast on the go.
8.15am. I arrive in the Paris office. We’ve just moved into a new office with a great view of the Arc De Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower from our rooftop. I get some coffee and I start going through my prices.
I make markets on convertible bonds. These are over the counter (OTC) products, which means they’re not traded on an exchange. I send the prices out to clients via the Bloomberg terminal.
8.45am. We have a morning meeting every day before the markets open at 9am. During this time, we usually discuss the trading flow over the past few days and look at any live issues, including what we plan to do with the bonds already on our book. The meetings are an opportunity for salespeople and traders to discuss the coming day. Salespeople are the main point of contact for clients: they pitch trade ideas, and when trades go ahead it’s the traders who make the prices, place the trade and manage the risk on the book. The book is our current portfolio of convertible bonds and any hedges.
9am. Markets open and the trading day starts. I communicate a lot with the salespeople as orders come in. We discuss trading flow and share our observations of the market.
Convertible bonds are an interesting product to work with as they have both an embedded call option and a bond component. In order to arrive at a valuation, we therefore need to look at both the credit risk and the factors influencing options pricing.
9.30am. This is one of my most active times of the day. My team covers mostly European clients, and we trade convertibles issued in Europe. Clients are particularly active when the market first opens.
I spend the morning making markets for clients. We get the requests through from sales. I make a bid and an offer to indicate where I would buy and sell a given convertible, and then manage the risk after the trade has taken place.
12pm. I go for lunch. I normally go outside for a walk with a colleague and we look for a nearby café or salad bar. We’re right in the centre of Paris, so there are lots of options.
12.45pm. I’m back at the desk and am continuing to make markets. Right now, I mostly trade healthcare and pharmaceutical companies and support my team members who cover the rest of the European convertible bonds universe.
2.30pm. The afternoons can be a bit quieter, so I have time to get on with project work. At the moment I’m working on valuation screeners. I look at valuations across our convertible bonds universe and send out risk reports to the team. In most cases we build the screeners ourselves and work collectively to create supporting models for the credit and volatility components of convertible bonds.
3.30pm. I’m making markets!
5.30pm. Just after markets close, we have another team meeting. Depending upon the day, this will either be with the bigger equity derivatives team or just with the smaller convertible bond trading team.
5.45pm. I’m the junior on the team, so when markets close, I work on some of the trade admin and checking our risk is reflected correctly.
6pm. I do a bit more project work involving fundamental company analysis. My manager has been super supportive of this – I went to the London office for two weeks recently and sat with the team that does fundamental analysis for the credit traders, the Fundamental Strategies Group, to help build my knowledge base. Fundamental analysis means I go through a company’s statements and use them to make forecasts. Right now, I mostly look at high yield/distressed credit companies.
6.30pm. This is when I usually leave the office. My team are very respectful of free time. They don’t stay late unnecessarily. Sometimes we have client meetings after work, but if not, I will usually go and see friends or play tennis with colleagues (in summertime). Otherwise, I walk home to the 8th arrondissement and then call my parents or friends, relax and play guitar.
When I started at Goldman I had a choice to live in London or Paris. I chose Paris and have no regrets. Paris is quite small, so it’s very easy to explore the city. The architecture here is beautiful and I live very centrally, next to a small park, which I walk through on the way to and from work. And I get to brush up my French!
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