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Dynamic Commodities Exclusive: Why I Became a Commodities Trader

October 10, 2016

During the summer of 1976, I was 16 years old when a friend’s dad offered me a summer job at a company in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. I was thrilled to take off my McDonald’s uniform and exchange it for a shirt and tie. Working in the heart of NYC was exciting, and for a boy going into his senior year in high school, the chance to work in an office environment was my first. I felt like I had graduated from the blue to the white collar world. The job was hardly an executive position; My assignment: hand delivering telex messages to the desks of those working at the company.

In the days before email and computers, telex messages connected one part of the world with another. The company, Philipp Brothers, was an international commodities trading firm that thrived and profited from communication and price dissemination. The movie Trading Places would not come out until 1981 so few, including me, knew little if anything about the world of raw materials trading.

I quickly observed three things during my first summer at Philipp Brothers. The company bought and sold commodities, everything from beach sands to oil, gold to aluminum, and sugar to iron ore. In all, the firm traded over 100 different products. The second thing I learned was geography. Offices and agents around the world communicated prices all the while attempting to buy in one corner of the world and sell in another for a profit. Finally and most importantly, the traders who arranged transactions traveled all over the world and made boatloads of money.

At 16, I knew I wanted to be a commodities trader.

 

Post Series: Origin Of A Commodities Trader

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