Traders looking to buy and sell hundreds of shares of stock at a fraction of a second, and at the touch of a computer key, fear one thing above all others: computer crashes.
That's why day traders rely on people like Edward Bernabeo. If a trader hits a computer glitch or needs additional information on his or her screen, Bernabeo is there immediately, fixing the problem and allowing the trader to continue the rapid buy-sell process.
"There's always going to be problems," says the 29-year-old Bernabeo. "But when a problem arises, there's always a solution. I'm dealing with people who have a lot of money on the line. The problem has to be solved."
Solving problems begins for Bernabeo every day just after 6 a.m. when the market opens. Casually clad in blue jeans and a baggy shirt, Philadelphia-born Bernabeo arrives at Westwood Stock Trading Co. greeting the traders who have already hunkered down at their dual-screen computers.
Day traders who are customers of the company, not employees buy and sell using their own money, with computers supplied by Westwood Stock. The company gets a small fee every time they make a trade.
Within five minutes of his arrival, Bernabeo is called by a customer, one of three Korean American businessmen who are in a back room doing trades. The customer's charts aren't "dynamically updating" meaning that he is unable to monitor market data in real time and unable to make decisions quickly enough. Bernabeo identifies a corrupt file, rebuilds the charts and ensures that the customer's screen includes all the necessary data.
"Want the S & P; 500? Want bond futures? Are you still following Apple?" asks Bernabeo, as he quickly responds to each answer with an addition or movement of a chart.
Within 10 minutes, the problem is solved and Bernabeo heads back toward the main floor, where five or six traders, most of whom are in shorts and T-shirts, sit transfixed to their dual screens.
By the time Bernabeo hits the floor, a customer asks him to place a hedge position. Bernabeo picks up the phone, calls Chicago and hedges 500 shares of Amgen on the customer's account.
It's now 6:40 a.m., and Bernabeo heads to the downstairs deli for his morning cup of coffee, having been given a reprieve in his daily paperwork by Albert "Bud" Kruger, the company's president.
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