October 23, 2016 by Aashna Randhawa
With the Accounting and Finance Panel coming up, we got the exclusive opportunity to sit down with Hunter Corcoran and learn more about the finance world. Hunter is currently in his last year of Ivey dual degree with Economics. He is the President of the Western Forex Association, and he worked at RBC in Sales and Trading (S&T) over the summer.
Can you tell us a bit about the main streams in finance?
Investment banks are the intermediary between the buy-side (so people like you and
me, who are looking to invest our money, or bigger hedge funds), and the sell-side (for example, corporations who want to issue stocks). Bankers are people who sell all the services of the investment bank, while S&T executes those transactions. On the other side, there’s accounting. It’s very different and not as much associated with the investment bank, but they make financial statements that are released and audited if the company is public. The other really big aspect is research, which I think is underestimated. Researchers focus on a sector or a few stocks, and essentially sell those insights to clients. It’s a highly intellectual exercise and extremely detailed. While they maybe cover only 5 or 6 companies, they know those companies extremely well. There’s also offshoots of the buy-side, like private equity, where they are not in the actual capital markets, but they are doing private deals, and hedge funds, where an asset manager is taking more riskier trades.
What interested you the most about finance?
It really started with my grandfather, who was a futures trader. I would walk into the office that had all the screens buzzing with numbers, and I always wanted to learn more about it. I fell in love with the S&T side as opposed to the investment banking side because I like the market execution and flow of information. It’s addictive just being in that zone, where people are calling you constantly asking you what’s going on in the market. It’s fast-paced, and sobers you up even if you are tired.
Is finance really as gruelling as other people say it is, with long hours and little sleep?
It really depends. Investment banking definitely has longer hours – some of the time, you just have to be there, even if work is not needed to be done. For S&T, I was working maybe 60-65 hours a week. Keep in mind that I was in a pretty junior position, so for a full-time position, people generally work around 50-55 hours a week. People get in at 6am, and leave by 4pm. That may seem like long, but if you like it, then who cares, right?
What did a day in the life look like for you over the summer?
I would get in by about 5:30 in the morning, skim the news, and write a synopsis of what happened in the markets. I compile all the research for equity essentials,
look for any earning releases, update the industry trades, and sent it out to clients. This would take me to around 10am. Then I would go for a coffee run – those are always fun. At noon, I do a mid-day update, looking at any major movers and why they are moving. The afternoon was a bit quieter. From noon till 3pm, I do my own projects – coming up with ideas, pitches, and shadowing people on the trading floor getting to know people. Around 4-5, I write an end-of-day report, do a block trade analysis to see what the market share was for that day. Afterwards, I’d usually go out with my coworkers! It’s a pretty packed day but it was fun.
How may your experience differ from an investment banker, or someone in private equity?
I may not be the best person to ask, since I’ve never worked in those roles. But, from my knowledge, investment banking is not as fast paced, the hours are a bit longer, and some aspects can be a bit more analytical. For S&T, even though I was in a junior role, I got client-facing time. I’ve had opportunities to sit down with CEOs, which was really unique.
Besides the hard skills, which soft skills would you say someone needs to excel in finance?
The trading floor is all about communication. Trading floors are completely open. Sometimes, people would yell two rows over, and you would have to pick up what they wanted. You knew what everyone was working on, and while people would call out what their clients wanted, it was important for me to hear the information and process it.
What are some things a first or second year student can do right now to discover their interest in finance?
Talking to people, that’s all it is. Get to know as many people as you can, not to get jobs or anything, but just to understand if you even want a career in finance.
Follow the news and see if you’re interested. Jobs in finance are very different: some are fast-paced, some are analytical, some are slower, while others are client-facing. So, just talk to people, read as much as you can, and you’ll develop relationships that will really help you.
Which websites would you recommend following?
Bloomberg is good if you want to see what’s going on in the short-term, but if you want some more long-term articles about what’s going on, I use the Financial Times. If you like more economic ideas, The Economist is also a good choice.
We hope that our conversation gives you a helpful intro to finance! If you’re interested in learning more about finance and accounting, be sure to come out to PBSN’s Accounting and Finance Panel on Monday Oct 24th at 6pm in UCC60.