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A day in the life of an analyst at the RBA

Jacob Harris once dreamed of becoming a doctor, until he discovered economics.

After finishing school, Jacob enrolled in a Bachelor of Economics majoring in economics and physics at the University of Sydney. While he was studying, he found out about the graduate program offered by the RBA −a two-year program where economists straight out of university work across several departments, applying the knowledge learnt in the classroom in a real-world policy environment. He thought it looked like an awesome opportunity, but wasn’t sure he’d get in.

“I was encouraged to apply for the grad role, but I was realistic about my chances,” Jacob says. “I had no relevant work experience and a whole Honours year left of my degree.”

Not only did Jacob land the graduate gig at the RBA – he has continued there full-time, and now works as an economist.

Jacob’s job involves writing reports about the Australian dollar and analysing the exchange rate. He also works on the RBA’s exchange rate models and looks at how money flows in and out of the country.

“It’s very cool to be writing about the Australian dollar while people around me are actively trading it, and to watch in real time as major pieces of economic news unfold in markets,” he says.

Jacob says anyone considering a career in economics should follow their interests and take advantage of opportunities, which he says “seem to multiply the more you take and may lead you to places you hadn’t even considered.”

Jacob describes an average day in his job:

7am: Write a briefing on overnight movements in financial markets – which feeds into the daily briefing for the Governors later that morning! I’m rostered to do this once a week and it’s a great way to start my day because it gets me up to speed on all the market news early on.

8am: Send off my briefing and get coffee with my co-workers.

9am: Prepare a short presentation for my department on the Australian dollar, which is the first step in deciding what we want to include in the next monthly Board paper. I put together a range of charts showing the relevant details and prepare a set of speaking notes. I collaborate with our FX dealers (people who buy and sell foreign currencies), asking about the major themes they’ve been seeing, as well as the other analysts in the department.

11am: With the presentation ready I spend the rest of the morning chipping away at an internal note I’ve been writing, having just received some helpful feedback from my manager.

12pm: I break for lunch and go for a walk with a friend working nearby. We chat about cricket and surf conditions on the weekend.

1pm: After lunch my manager asks me to update one of our Aussie dollar models to take into account a big move in commodity prices over recent days. I gather all the data together, run the model, make some graphs and put together some analysis on the move. While I’m doing this there is some market excitement as the monetary policy decision of another central bank has just been announced. I watch the headlines roll out as I send the model update off to management. I quickly update my graphs and speaking notes before going to the department meeting and giving my presentation.

3pm: I spend the rest of the afternoon working on my note before finishing a little early due to the briefing in the morning.

4.30pm: After work I head to the pool for a few laps with some friends and then head home for the night.

Jacob’s study and career path to becoming an analyst at the RBA

  • Bachelor of Economics (Economics & Physics), University of Sydney
  • Analyst, Reserve Bank of Australia

This profile was brought to you in partnership with the Reserve Bank of Australia and a version of it was originally published in Careers with STEM: Maths & Data.

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