Trading during Ramadan: 'Everyone said I was pretty useless'
Sales and trading jobs aren't the sort where you can take life easy because of events in your personal life. If markets want you to jump, then jump you must. But can exceptions be made for significant religious events?
Muslim traders are in the midst of fasting for Ramadan. One former equities VP at Morgan Stanley in London says the experience isn't easy.
When you work in trading, he says, "the hours are the hours." There's no leniency because you were up at 4am eating and drinking before sunrise.
As Ramadan progresses, he says it can be increasingly difficult to hold things together. "Everyone used to say I was pretty useless that month," he reflects. A "normally pretty talkative guy," he says fasting left him "colder, and generally just quieter with no energy to talk."
Ramadan isn't just about fasting, though. During the Ramadan period, Muslims also pray at dawn, midday, in the afternoon and at sunset. This means leaving the desk. The VP says this is doable, "It’s not for ages, it’s only like 10 minutes that you’re off.”
In some industries, Muslims say there's a sense of camaraderie during Ramadan. In financial services, though, the VP says there simply aren't enough Muslims to create a sense of solidarity. Muslims in the industry have long complained of discrimination and issues with the City's culture of drinking and Ramadan can lead to isolation rather than integration.
The VP adds that Ramanda is harder when it falls in the summer. "When I was in banking, it was okay because it was winterish and the fasting hours were reasonable. It's more difficult when the fasts are very long." This year, fasting hours are around 5am to 7:30pm.
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