Chapter 5

The Prop Trader

Christian Siva-Jothy

Former Head of Proprietary Trading, Goldman Sachs SemperMacro London

What began as a means to get free drinks turned into quite a career for Christian Siva-Jothy. Formerly one of the biggest proprietary traders on the Street, Siva-Jothy admittedly got into the business because going to bank presentations while at university was an inexpensive way to finance a social life. More interestingly, his first job on a foreign exchange desk at Citibank was the day of the stock market crash in 1987. Rather than taking it as an inauspicious sign, Siva-Jothy immediately knew proprietary trading was what he was meant to do. He moved to Goldman Sachs (GS) a few years later, where he eventually became the partner in charge of fixed income and currency proprietary trading.

Goldman Sachs in the early 1990s hardly lived up to its century-old image as a staid investment bank making money through old-line relationships. Rather, it turned into one of the biggest proprietary risk takers among the investment banks, with its traders making huge bets with firm capital in global fixed income, foreign exchange (FX), commodities, and derivatives.

I first met Siva-Jothy when he was still head of proprietary trading at Goldman Sachs. A friend suggested I contact him, after dubbing him “the man.” Soon thereafter, I found myself on the sprawling Goldman trading floor awaiting the often rumored about, almost mythic trader who occupied the glass corner office. Yet ...

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