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Meet cool female trader, Bettina – loving her job and puzzled about the lack of women in trading

08-03-2023 12:34

It’s strange – why there aren’t more female traders, and so few and far between female applicants for trading positions! Bettina is one of the few. She loves her job as trader at Nordea Markets in Oslo, and is puzzled about the lack of women in trading, wondering what’s holding them back! Quite an appropriate topic to dig into on a day like today.

March 8th is a special day, being International Women’s Day. What better way to commemorate such an event than issuing an openhearted interview with one of our cool female traders; Norwegian Bettina Roness Berg (27 years old), sharing her career journey, from intern to graduate, to trader at Markets. Have a read and get insight to her tasks as trader, her work life, and the environment on the trading floor – and perhaps you’ll get inspired to go for it when you learn why Bettina enjoys her job so much.

Master of Science, Mathematical Modelling and Computation from DTU, Associate Director Credit Trading in Oslo, started in Trading after studies. Been with Nordea Markets since 2018.

Did you already during your studies aim for a job in finance? 

Not really, I selected the program at DTU since it was a mix of qualitative and quantitative courses. During my first year, I realised that it was the application of quantitative methods that I found interesting. My plan was then to start as a management consultant, and I set this dream to the test during an internship. Even though I really enjoyed the working environment, the diversity of projects and my colleagues, I just noticed that something wasn’t quite right, something was missing. In the same period, I had applied for a summer internship at Nordea Markets (you can actually apply for a summer internship 2023 in Markets now!). Being an eight weeks’ rotation program suited me very well, since I was not familiar with all the various career options that exist at a trading floor.

The internship at Markets was a very positive experience, and I got the opportunity to start full time after my studies in a graduate position, aiming at starting within the Investments team. Nordea is very good at facilitating internal moves to accommodate ones aspirations, and so, my original graduate plan changed six months before my first working day. The high yield trader in Norway was promoted to Head of Sales, and there was an open spot at Trading. I saw this as a golden opportunity to get hands-on experience of the financial markets, and was thrilled when I got the chance to start there as a junior trader.

What’s a typical day for you – work flow, tasks? 

There isn’t really a typical day as a trader. The common denominator is our local and global morning meetings, to prep the team for the day ahead. Personally, I enjoy a somewhat ‘quiet’ morning with time to get my head around recent markets moves and news. So, I try to get to the office early to prep levels before the morning meeting. After the market opens at 9:00, anything can happen! There could be large moves after CPI numbers, leaving us calculating levels throughout the day, or it can be rather calm and we can, for instance, explore and find new trading opportunities or work on modelling to improve our programs.

To give a bit more insight to the tasks and role as a trader, I’ll go a bit into details here: HY (High Yield) is a OTC (Over the counter) security, which means that there is not a central exchange, but the product is being traded directly between two parties. Trading’s role is to create a market in the bonds that we trade for our clients/investors. We are then left with the risk on our books, which makes risk assessment a large part of our job.

What’s the best thing about your job? What motivates you? 

I guess I’m a rather competitive person. As such, I enjoy the rush of the high pace environment here, and the short feedback loop from a decision is made to the result is evident. Our days are quite vibrant, and you are free to create the financial models you see fit, or do analysis you think could be interesting for your area. There are, of course, always useful help to get from colleagues in research, sales and other traders, but in the end, you have to make the final decision and take responsibility for the outcome. That suits me well, and I find it very exciting to use mathematics in irrational markets, and set my analysis to the test.

Bettina having a coffee break with a colleague, Astrid Slettan, analyst in Research & Risk Solutions, Norway.

Any thoughts on why there aren’t more female traders in the industry? 

I think there are fewer females applying for trading roles, as they are a bit intimidated by what they think it entails, and are not familiar with the actual role. Some of us females are probably stuck with the old trader stereotype image – perhaps influenced  by movies – which is so far from the reality. The working environment here at the trading floor is great, and I find the Markets culture inclusive and supporting.

One thing, I think it’s important to point out – and sort out – is that it is not at all a prerequisite to have been trading stocks since you were 15 or been investing on your own – that’s misunderstood. The most important thing is that you have a genuine interest in learning and demonstrate dedication.

What characteristics, features are required to succeed as trader?

We are currently screening candidates for a graduate position, and I am focusing on finding a committed and responsible person, who has an inner drive to learn and succeed. One thing, I think characterises markets functions, is a rather steep learning curve during the first year. And there is always a lot of support from experienced colleagues willing and ready to help out. You are to some degree responsible for your own progression which also offers and creates opportunities for you to take ownership early on – which I think is highly valuable.

How would you describe the working environment?

The Markets trading team in Oslo is rather small, but we work just as close with other parts of the Credit Franchise. The close collaboration makes the working environment very social, whether it’s going out for a drink, a meal or join some bigger team or Markets events. There are also some cross desk socialising through client events or for example “Lønningspils” which we have the last Thursday of the month.

What’s the most biased perception or myth about being a trader, or working in a Markets division?   

First and foremost, financial products are a lot more than stocks. My recommendation is to be openminded to other areas, and perhaps other job roles. A long-time interest in finance is valuable, but it is not a requirement. You will catch-up quickly enough at the trading floor, and you will learn it straight away at the centre of it all, in real life experience. So, don’t be scared to give trading a chance – on the contrary, go for it!

Any piece of advice to anyone who might be considering a career in finance, becoming a trader – and why join Nordea Markets?

Being part of the biggest bank in the Nordics, Nordea Markets can facilitate unique opportunities and support individual development. As mentioned, we are open for internal rotations which offer you flexibility and endless career possibilities. Trading is, in my opinion, the perfect way to kickstart your career. You get hands-on experience where you have to be up to speed with macroeconomics to understand the bigger picture, but also down to each individual company to fully understand the market dynamics.

I truly enjoy my job as trader here at Markets, and I encourage you to check it out – don’t hold back.

Happy International Women's Day! We hope the blog with Bettina triggered your curiosity and interest in considering a career in trading, or in finance in general. For further inspiration and insight, check out our Meet Our Talents blog, including our blog series, Women’s Finance Insight Programme 2023

Summer internship 2023

Do like Bettina, kick-start your career as intern; apply for a summer internship 2023 in Markets, Copenhagen, now and before 2nd April. We hope to hear from you - go for it! 

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