Four Unexpected Things I Love about Working in Investment Management

Last summer, after working in various “business” roles across Vanguard, I, nervously, pursued an opportunity to work in Vanguard’s Fixed Income Group as a trader. I had always been interested in investments—that interest was what brought me to Vanguard and led me to pursue the CFA® designation earlier in my career. However, the only investments I had actually managed were what was in my retirement account (and admittedly I managed those somewhat sporadically).

I was excited by the prospect of turning my academic interest into a career. While nervous about the learning curve, I had high expectations for the role. I expected my favorite aspect of the job to be the learning; to love the challenge; to enjoy being more in tune with the markets and what’s going on in the world. And after a year, I can confidently report that all of these expectations have been met; I have enjoyed these aspects of the job. But some of my favorite parts about my role as a trader are things I did not expect:

The collaborative process
Looking back it seems silly, but when I pictured a successful trader before I worked in investment management, I envisioned someone who could quickly comprehend what was going on in the market and then swiftly, and independently, act on it. I completely underestimated the collaboration that occurs on the trading floor. I frequently see expert traders and strategists, often with decades of experience, approaching a colleague to run an idea by them or ask their opinion. In fact, some of the most senior and successful traders are the ones who do this the most often.

Infectious passion
Spend a few hours in Vanguard’s Fixed Income Group and you will quickly realize you’re surrounded by people that LOVE their jobs. You can hear it in the way they talk, and, fortunately for me, the way they teach. The excitement and inherent interest when you bring a group of passionate people together begets further interest when questions are raised and opinions debated.

Diverse backgrounds of my coworkers
You may be noticing a trend of faulty expectations on my part… but I thought the typical career path was study finance à work in an investment support function à move into front office trading. I love that, again, I was wrong and that there is no typical career path. I work with former consultants, aerospace engineers, accountants, computer science PhDs, English majors, and self-taught coders. It seems obvious now but diverse backgrounds yield diverse thought which is what makes a great investment team.

Tangible impact on clients
Perhaps I should have expected this but my favorite aspect about my job is the tangibility of the impact we have on clients. It’s a great honor and great responsibility to manage our clients’ money. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced that impact in all of my roles at Vanguard but never has the impact been as tangible as it is as a trader. It’s incredibly rewarding to measure the impact you have in helping clients progress towards their goals.

A year ago, I thought the trading floor was an intimidating place. Now I think it’s an incredible place to learn and have an impact while working with some of the most passionate people I’ve encountered.

-Molly C.

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