Advice for getting a job in trading

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trader_dante

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4,535 1,476
Thought I would just have a quick rant because I see so many posts along the lines of "I really want a job as a trader but I've got no experience..."

Guess what? Traders trade.

Is it really hard to get experience buying and selling when nowadays you can open a trading account in under five minutes?

I don't think it even matters if you lose money, the fact you BOTHERED to do something; to try and actively learn will stand in your favour.

If you want to be hired by firm you need to demonstate INTEREST.

I tell you what it was so disheartening to sit in rooms taking tests with hundreds of graduates who p*ss all over me when it comes to maths ability and then hear them outside in the reception area saying: "God, did anyone know what the price of a barrel of oil is? And what about where the FTSE closed at? I didn't think of checking that in the FT this morning..."

I sat through test papers with a blank look on my face because I'm not that quick - I can't tell you the answer to 1457 X 19 in 8 seconds but I can tell you the closing price of close to 80 markets, what moves them and ways to trade them profitably.

Seriously; I'm gobsmacked: You're interested in the markets but you don't know what the price of oil is? You don't know where the S&P last closed at? Give me a break.

Why do you want a job as a trader? Because it offers the potential to make a huge amount of money and be a big swinging d*ck or because you are genuinely interested in the markets, the way they move and how to use your own skill and judgement to profit from them?

If its the former then you might as well give up now because the odds are stacked against you unless you really want it enough and I believe the desire to make money is not enough. I strongly believe you have to LIVE the market to be a very profitable trader and the only thing that is going to get you through the hard times - the stress, the worry, the fear and all the rest - is the love of it.

I have a feeling thats why the traders I know that are taking home £250,000 a week are still coming in at 7am every morning and leaving at 9pm at night when they could be sitting on a beach sipping Pina Coladas.

Just my 0.2 cents.
 
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grantx

Senior member
2,331 223
TD,

Which is the most difficult area to master - knowledge of the markets or maths skills? I reckon it's the maths. And for those with maths degrees, the banks will teach them how to trade.

The relevance and contribution of higher qualifications, eg maths degrees, is a popular topic for discussion (wasn't one of the most successful locals on LIFFE an ex-carpet fitter?). But from a practical point of view, who has the greater potential for success; who would you bet on - graduates or non-graduates? The problem with no qualifications is a lack of reference or starting point for development.

Grant.
 

trader_dante

Veteren member
4,535 1,476
TD,

Which is the most difficult area to master - knowledge of the markets or maths skills? I reckon it's the maths. And for those with maths degrees, the banks will teach them how to trade.

The relevance and contribution of higher qualifications, eg maths degrees, is a popular topic for discussion (wasn't one of the most successful locals on LIFFE an ex-carpet fitter?). But from a practical point of view, who has the greater potential for success; who would you bet on - graduates or non-graduates? The problem with no qualifications is a lack of reference or starting point for development.

Grant.
Hi Grant,

I agree with you somewhat in that qualifications offer a starting point for development but I am not really arguing whether one needs qualifications or not. I'm arguing about the level of actual interest in the markets demonstrated among applicants.

I'm having a pop at all those people who turn up on boards and say: "Where do I start - I've got no experience..."

It's not HARD to get experience. Anyone can trade. That's the beauty of it.

The applicants that turn up and rely on simple maths ability and then don't get in are, in my opinion, like turning up to a Hollywood acting agent and saying: "Right, I'd like to star in films please...I'm good looking".

Have you taken any acting classes?(in trading terms, gone to seminars or read extensively on the subject)

Have you actually acted before? Even if it was an amateur production, have you applied to theatres, read The Stage, gone to auditions, been cast in roles, been on stage or even in student films? (in trading terms the equivalent of opening an account, trying to trade, learning what works, getting actual experience)

I'm not trying to change the world, Grant - I know that's how life works. It's largely unfair.

I'm personally working at a prop firm now because they were good enough to look past the fact I failed their tests and see I had an interest and an ability - at least from the P&L records of my own account. But it still took me a few years. You get grads with some maths ability and no interest in the markets other than a way to get rich quick and then people like me (back then) that are fascinated by the markets; that give up their time and energy to learn about and trade them and don't even get a look in at a firm.
 
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0007

Senior member
2,295 596
TD,

Which is the most difficult area to master - knowledge of the markets or maths skills? I reckon it's the maths. And for those with maths degrees, the banks will teach them how to trade.

The relevance and contribution of higher qualifications, eg maths degrees, is a popular topic for discussion (wasn't one of the most successful locals on LIFFE an ex-carpet fitter?). But from a practical point of view, who has the greater potential for success; who would you bet on - graduates or non-graduates? The problem with no qualifications is a lack of reference or starting point for development.

Grant.
I used to be involved in a different field but one requiring great skill, discipline, knowledge, quick thinking - sometimes all in a stressful situation. Graduates, especially clever ones with proper degrees, had the greatest difficulty in coping when the going got tough. This was often due to the fact that, because they were "clever" and had sailed through school & college, they had never before experinced failure or extreme difficulty and weren't equipped to deal with it.

Whether or not this relates to pro trading I don't know - perhaps TD can tell us. TD's remarks at #1 are very illuminating, and when you think about it, not that surprising.
:)
 

timsk

Legendary member
7,053 1,860
I'm personally working at a prop firm now because they were good enough to look past the fact I failed their tests and see I had an interest and an ability - at least from the P&L records of my own account.
Yeah t_d, plus the fact that compared to you, Messrs Depp, Cruise & Clooney looks like the elephant man.:cheesy:
Actually, joking aside, regardless of how handsome you may or may not be, you are young. I reckon that if I applied to your prop firm with the same track record and enthusiasm for the markets that you have, I wouldn't even get a 1st round interview on account of my age. Now in my mid (ish) 40's, I'm an old git! I bet you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of traders at your firm who are over 30?
Tim.
 

grantx

Senior member
2,331 223
TD,

“an interest and an ability... it still took me a few years”.

This is probably what employers are “’hoping” for in due course from their graduate trainees. Now you have it, and you deserve a chance with all the work you’ve put in.

It is a good point you make (and one I’ve always believed) – you’ve got to put in the time studying to understand markets – what drives them and even how they inter-relate (no market works in isolation). Some argue this isn’t necessary but I say if you know the current state of play, you have a context which, at the very least, will reduce the probability of being wrong-footed.

There’s more to trading than a couple of stochastics. You may have set a precedent re recruitment at your firm. Best wishes for the future.

0007,

Thinking more on this since my initial post, and on reading yours (and TD’s), I remember a tv programme some time ago where a UK medical school recruited not new graduates but those who had already worked (in other fields, including a two from the City). Age range was c 30 – 45 years. To cut it short, they did brilliantly. Indeed, in many cases they were better than the new graduates. Experience and wisdom through maturity has a lot to commend it.

Grant.
 

mp6140

Established member
742 74
Im sitting here smiling --- its a fun conversation !


"in theory, theory and practice are the same --- in practice, theory usually blows up !"

mp (enjoying)
 

grantx

Senior member
2,331 223
Tim,

The City may be racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic, whell-chairist, maybe even ageist but first and foremost, they are capitalist and if you can make them a fortune, all prejudices disappear, as if by magic. Don't be put off.

Grant.
 

mp6140

Established member
742 74
Tim,

The City may be racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic, whell-chairist, maybe even ageist but first and foremost, they are capitalist and if you can make them a fortune, all prejudices disappear, as if by magic. Don't be put off.

Grant.
===========================================================
next to the teachings of the prophets of old, the truest words ever told !

gotta love capitalism !

mp
 

grantx

Senior member
2,331 223
MP,

"gotta love capitalism !". Amen to that. If you don't laugh, you cry.

Good Trading,

Grant.
 

trader_dante

Veteren member
4,535 1,476
I've got no idea why my first post generated so much reputation as it was a bit of a rant.

Anyway, I'll offer my advice to those of you that want a job as a professional trader. This is just very basic but you'd be surprised how many of the applicants don't prepare in this way.

1. First and foremost. As Grant so wonderfully said above: "The City may be racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic, wheel-chairist, maybe even ageist but first and foremost, they are capitalist and if you can make them a fortune, all prejudices disappear, as if by magic. Don't be put off." That is great advice. If you are like me - useless at maths but confident in your ability and can demonstrate approximately 6 months consistency even if you have not made a huge deal of money then a prop firm IS going to back you. So if this sounds like you and you want it enough, start contacting them.

2. OK, you want a job as a trader but you have no experience. Then go and get some. You can teach yourself almost anything these days and the best way is to actively get involved. Open an account: whether it is futures, options or spreadbetting - start trading. It's not hard to open an account and these days takes little money either. It doesn't matter whether you are a total failure at least you are giving it a go and you are looking at how prices move. And within no time at all you are already starting to LEARN about the issues that traders face. Fundamental analysis, technical analysis, emotional analysis; greed and fear. Worst case scenario you lose a little money but you have some actual experience to impart and you look INTERESTED. Imagine you're the recruitment officer at a firm. You've got a candidate infront of you and you ask: "So, why do you want to be a trader?" and they reply: "Well, I'm very interested in the financial markets, I think...." Woah. Let's stop you there. You're so interested but you never even bothered to actually trade anything yourself?

3. Read books on the markets. I firmly believe you shouldn't turn up at an interview without having read "Reminiscenes of a Stock Operator" and "Market Wizards" at a minimum. Neither of those books will turn you into a super trader but they do give you an insight into what this job is like, how hard it is, how much effort you put in, how wrong things can go despite the effort you put in and they are also the most talked about trading books out there, so if you want to look interested in your field, then you want to have read them.

4. Read the Wall Street Journal OR the FT so that you know what is going on in the world of business and finance. Try and have an opinion. Don't be afraid of being wrong. The best traders are wrong all the time. I know someone that applied for a position as a FTSE trader and was asked where he thought the price of Soybeans was going. What has that got to do with the FTSE? Not a lot. But most good firms want to know that you have an insight into world events and their correlation: Right now the the US is MORE interested in boosting the economy than fighting inflation. What does this mean for interest rates? If interest rates go down where are bond prices going? Where is the countries currency going? What could this do to commodity prices? Imagine a recruitment officer asked you: "If commmodities like oil go up what happens to the European indices like the FTSE and the DAX?". Candidate A answers: "Well, inflation is bad for the economy. Higher prices are more likely to result in companies making less profits. The lower profits would cause investors to sell stock and the Europeans markets would fall." Candidate B answers: "Well, inflation is bad for the economy. Higher prices are more likely to result in companies making less profits. The lower profits would cause investors to sell stock and the Europeans markets would fall. BUT oil companies are a large component of the FTSE and since their profits would likely be up there is a case for arguing that the FTSE may still fall but LESS than the DAX..." I know who I'd hire.

4. Brush up on your maths. I personally don't think Maths is at all important for trading outrights and I've yet to be proven wrong BUT it's an unfortunate fact of life that you're going to have to sit tests at firms. The maths tests and the aptitude tests that you get set at firms are not PURELY to test your maths ability. They are to test how you react under pressure. Do you keep calm or do you go to pieces? Learn to add, subtract, divide and multiply long numbers, quickly. Get a simple maths book and work through it. Bear in mind that if you fail the maths tests point 1 will get you in no matter what.
 
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ft338

Junior member
34 0
i think your arguement is similar to what students from "non top tier" universities feel. seems like prop firms are taking the banking approach to recruitment where they want students from top universities albeit with stronger math skills. banks nowadays focus on tier one universities even if the degrees were in something like natural sciences or philosophy and would take them on rather than someone from say manchester/city etc. studying finance. the belief is that trading/finance is something they can teach the students but what they want is a history of success and achievements which people from oxbridge/lse/warwick have.

it is unfair and if you go back 20-30 years than a lot of wall street was run by a bunch of uneducated men but with strong business acumen. problem is that the world has changed and there has been a rise of the "geeks". Instruments have become far more sophisticated and this has reduced the chances of people without a strong academic background making it. having said that, the fundamentals of trading or making money have not changed and with the increase in spread betting people who may not have had access to the markets now have it.

its all cyclical as the markets are currently proving. the problems we are in now is because banks relied too much on academics to wrap and package risk and didnt use their business acumen. this means that going forward, atleast for some time, they will become more prudent and go back to the "old ways".

at the end of the day its all very good hoping that students become traders because they are facinated by the markets, intrigued by the intellectual challenges etc. However, the truth of the matter is that they want to trade because it can make them a lot of money. Thats the reason they studied something which interested them at university (politics, math, sciences etc.) but trading is a way for them to monetise their intelligence. so you cant really blame them for it. yes they should be more aware of what is going on in the markets but that is what will seperate the wheat from the chaff in interviews when you grill them.

P.S. you were probably just using it to make a point but the city is anything but anti-semetic. if you go to any banks or financial institutions you will find jews, especially in the upper eschelons. and if some delusional people are to be believed than they actually influence and run the financial markets.
 

grantx

Senior member
2,331 223
TD,

“Read the Wall Street Journal OR the FT so that you know what is going on in the world of business and finance”.

I’ve always believed that if you read all the market reports from the FT or WSJ every day for a year you will have a solid understanding of the markets and thus confidence to converse on a professional level. A few years ago, every morning from Reuters I would read market reports (cash and future) for government bonds, corporate bonds, equities, fx as well as economic numbers, for US, UK, Germany and Japan. Usually amounting to 20 pages. Didn’t help my trading but I was well informed.

However, look at the all topics of the threads on T2W and how many actually discuss the markets? Unfortunately, very few. This is symptomatic of the “get rich quick” mentality compounded by increasing access to the internet:

“the truth of the matter is that they want to trade because it can make them a lot of money” (Ft338)

Ft338,

I think the point TD is making is aimed at those with successful trading experience, ie not new graduates. The two are distinct entities – the former offers a reduced risk profile for prop firms to back; the latter, a totally unknown quantity to be moulded into the firm’s way of thing and methods. The first requires less investment in terms of time and money, the second, more.

Re anti-Semitism, it was just to make a point.

Grant.
 

crude_lover

Active member
178 17
The FT is yesterdays news just keep an eye on bloomberg or cnn during the day to keep an eye on what the markets are doing now
 
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