Advice about getting in the door

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by entrep101, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. entrep101


    I need some advice about how to break into the financial market to get a job. I graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering last year (07). In 05 my partner and I started a company that we continued to operate and grow after college. We are at a point now where by this time next year we will have either sold this company or my portion will have been bought out.

    I have always knows that I wanted to go into finance. Ideally I would like to get on a trading desk in some fashion or another. I have been quite involved in the markets for the last 4 years trading options and futures and keep up with it daily.

    How do I pitch myself? Should I take the first part of the CFA in the spring to prove that I have base knowledge even though it is not necessary for the area I want to end up (trading). How do I get in the door with a fund? Any help greatly appreciated.

  2. Why not just take your own money from selling your company stake and trading it yourself. Why is there any need for a job?
  3. There are four types of traders

    1 - A trader that can not succeed
    2- A trader that can succeed ONLY when working at a firm
    3 -A trader that can succeed ONLY when using his own money
    4 - A trader that can succeed BOTH with his own funds and or at a firm...and there aren't many of those
  4. entrep101


    I want to get the experience of working at a fund for at least a few years. I also want to gain some operational knowledge. I don’t think i would have a problem working in that environment.
  5. JCVR


    It's not as easy as it sounds to just go out there and get on a desk. There are plenty of guys who have finance degrees AND many years already on a desk who cannot find jobs right now. Trying to get in with an engineering degree and no experience probably isnt going to cut it unless you find a back door in through operations or something and work your way up.

    Why don't you go to a prop firm or just trade your own capital? You will learn just as much and spare yourself the frustration of being the desk gopher or toiling away in operations 12 hours a day while hoping for a shot at being the next desk gopher. You are probably looking at a minimum of 2-3 years and some luck in each position to make it to the next level, i.e. if you go into ops you will spend 2-3 years there, then maybe make trading assistant and spend another 2-3 years working your way towards becoming a junior trader or trader. And in this context a trader is an order taker, not a decision maker. The decision makers are the analysts and portfolio managers and to get one of those jobs at a big hedge fund or bank your engineering degree had better be from MIT or something.
  6. entrep101


    I understand i will be a gopher for a few years. Once i get in the door ill be fine. I have quite a few friends from school that have managed to get on trading desks already (2 years out of school).

    I don't want to work for a bank. Ideally i would like to be at a small to med size hedge fund.

    I know it wont be easy- and i know the market is horrendous right now. Im not looking to do this for another year-- and trying to figure out what i should do in the meantime to prepare.
  7. Education will not get you a finance job, unless you are an Accountant. Getting a job on a trading desk is like getting one in Real Estate. If your performance record is minimal or you've never done that job before, you will pay to even be there. If you show broker statements of success over time, they will pay you to be there.

    Not rocket science.
  8. entrep101


    Im 24, its not like im 30 and trying to break in to the market. Im sure the first thing i land will be an internship of sorts. Im just looking for anything i can do to make myself more appealing.

    Undergrad finance degrees are a joke and are by no means a pre req into the industry.
  9. JCVR


    You should do some research and pinpoint exactly what type of trader you want to be. Basically at a hedge fund there are a couple types- portfolio managers: these guys run a portfolio and get to decide what to trade and when. They have discretion over what they buy and sell and usually have a team of analysts working for them. Execution traders- these guys work order for the portfolio managers and analyts. They are basically just order takers and have no discretion over what to trade. they just try to get the best price and give the portfolio managers color on how the market. i.e. "so i bought 50k of the 1mm aapl shares you asked for but the SnP futures just gapped down 20 points so I am holding off on the other 950k for now". They also watch what is going on internally to make sure one PM isn't buying while the other shorts and externally- i.e. your PM is a front page holder of XYZ and someone is looking to sell a large block of it. The third type is a research trader, they are an analyst/ execution trader hybrid. They do some research and get to make some suggestions in addition to executing. Typically the research trader has been an execution guy for a long time, gotten to know some of the PM's pretty well so they start to trust him and get him more involved with the investment process.

    The problem you face coming in is that alot of entry level trading jobs at big funds are filled internally from kids in the back office who have proven themselves for a few years. they keep these as the carrot dangling in front of them to keep everyone motivated and give them to the smartest and hardest working.

    My advice would be to start networking and looking into jobs right away. Get your CFA if possible. Keep an eye on craigslist, alot of smaller startup companies might advertise for clerks and assistants on there. Also look out for operations or middle office jobs with bigger funds. These guys will give you a shot to get on the desk if you do well.

    Finally- don't mention your personal trading while interviewing...especially at a big shop. Also don't mention your trading aspirations if you are interviewing for a middle or back office role, that will pretty much destroy any shot of getting your foot in the back door.

    Good luck.
  10. i don't get it.. if you a good trader why do you need a J.O.B.?
    #10     Sep 5, 2008