Advice for a Newbie

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by Luctrative1, Mar 22, 2004.

  1. Greetings and hello to everyone at the boards here!

    This is my first post and I would really appreciate some advice here guys.

    I'm a college student in my final year. I used to be a Computer Science major from a top 20 school for the major and after working at Citigroup and seeing the job first hand I completely changed my mind. Now I'm switching to Applied Math and Statistics in the hopes of pursuing something in Finance. It's so hard to really find research on the field you guys are in so I would really appreciate any feedback. I guess I'll just post a few questions I have on my mind.

    First of would you say a degree in Math suits me for a job in trading? Or does it not really matter so much?

    Now honestly do most of you guys like\hate your job? I know it pays great and everyone hates their job, but I wonder just how bad it gets on everyone's nerves.

    Personally I think I would like a job where I have to be constantly thinking and acting...there seems to be something about it, almost like fighting for survival...something that wreaks of being and feeling alive. But I can't really seem to find out what it is really like from first hand. I've seen the Citigroup trading floors downtown but it's not like getting into the mind of a traders day. I mean is it really as extreme as spitting blood for for some of you? Or do some enjoy it to some extent or find it relaxed?

    I'm studying for the Series 7 exam on my own. Is there any other books that can help me get an edge on understanding what I will have to do for the job so that when I have an interview I can show just how better prepared I am. Anything that can almost train me for the scenarios I will encounter as trader or give me ANY edge whatsoever?

    Now I'm pretty determined in general and pretty determined about this so I will find a way, but any idea of a good way to get into the job that's not obvious such as applying to postings. Anything I might not be aware of due to inexperience.

    Would you say there is a typical personality that is befitting of a trader? I think I would be excellent at thinking on the spot with my balls on the line once I got the proper experience, but for instance it takes me a little while to get aggressive verbally. Does that matter very much?

    Thank you guys if I think of anything else I'll ask. If anyone of you could answer anyone of these questions or refer me to a website, link, book, or thread I would really appreciate it. I'm just trying to be educated about what it is that I am setting my ambition on. THANKS

  2. Yes, math/stats is an excellent background for a trader, but more for the thought process than the actual techniques. Mathematicians are very good at maximizing, minimizing, and just plain old optimizing everything in sight. None of these things is terribly appropriate for a trader.

    I think you're going to find that trading is much, much, much more boring than you think it is. If you ever put yourself in a position where your "balls are on the line" then you're risking too much and won't last long.


    P.S. FWIW, I am a CTA with an MS in math and 3 years towards a PhD.

  3. Thanks for the perspective man, I realy appreciate the insight. :) It's kind of a good sighn, I'm realy not sure just how stressful it can get.....boring sounds less stressful.
  4. genejef


    -Math can help, but trading-PROFESSIONAL TRADER- is much, much more. A high IQ is not enough. Need hard work, discipline, well organized, control of emotions, A LOT to learn on a continual basis.
    -Serie 7 is not teaching you how to trade: it is for being a financial advisor-selling stocks-and you need a state licence too.
    Question: What kind of trader you want to be? Based on your answer I can give you information.
    Trading is not easy.
    Best regards.
  5. Luctrative1,

    As for Series 7 study material, get the Dearborn training CDROM. They have hundreds of drill questions arranged into subjects, plus simulated full exams.

    When I took my S7 I used this cd, the arrangement of questions into subjects was priceless.

    Many of the questions appear in the actual exam word for word too.

    I got a result of 91%.

    Good luck
  6. GoBucks


    Read everything you can on the subject of trading. There are many different ways to trade. "Boring" is a relative term. If ou love what you do, you will not be "bored."

    Personally, I suck at math. I have not made money trading since the 2 and 1/4 years I've been learning. But I have earned trading skills and an education. That's life. Better yet, that's business. Learning to trade is an "investment." in and of itself. It is not a 40 hour a week job. You should approach it as a business. You ned a plan and financial goals if you plan to make it your career. Also don't quit your day job.

    My recommendation. Want to be a trader? Ditch most of the math courses (ditch 'em all actually) . . .. and pick up some courses in business and psychology. These subjects will serve you better as a "trader." Series 7 also probably a waste of time. Unless you want to be a broker.

    Then open a trading account - one you can trade in - online. Direct Access, low, low commissions, and commit a certain amount of money that you can risk without affecting your lifestyle or standard of living. NOTE: I said I have not made money. that does not mean I have never experienced a winning trade. It means I'm in the hole a certain amount that I have decided to risk. I was in debt when I started my last business too, but it's good debt, it's investment debt. Hey just like college, you don't go to college for free right.

    I have more to risk too. And I know it sounds crazy, but it's a "limited" amount - spread over time - you will not learn everything you need to "see" as a trader in one day, one month, or likely even one year. I don't care how smart you are. It just won't float.

    Will o'neil writes, a story about a guy who has to write a paper for a class on fish. So he studies every book and article on fish and writes the paper. The prof. fails him. HE ASKS WHY. Prof says you only told me what others know about fish. I want what you know. If you want to know about fish . . . then you have to watch the fish in the tank.

    Figure out what you want to do as a career, pick something that will allow you to watch the markets all day long for a year or two or three (some may catch on faster). Then when you are making enough money to live as trader, you will have achieved your Goal.

    I like the other guys advice too. If you have so much on the line that it feels like you'r slingin' your balls to survive . . . you already have TOO MUCH on the line. You won't last. Go sky diving or something else for that kind of rush. At least you'll get a thrill for what you've spent. Good Luck.
  7. Welcome to the board,

    You have some good questions and you're willing to seek advice and education on a subject you know you are weak on. That's a good sign to start. One of your questions is whether or not we as traders love our career. I think if you question if trading is right for you, then it's going to be a tough road ahead. All successful traders love what they do. You have to KNOW that trading is what YOU are meant to do. If you don't feel this way, you likely lack the commitment to go through the learning curve.

    Math is a good skill to have. As another person posted, it's the way you think that's important. Quick mental math about min/max/optimizing is what he said and I agree with that.

    I also believe Psychology is an important field. If you can, take an elective in Social Psyc. This wil cover crowd behaviour. I was a Psyc minor and I highly recommend the course. Avoid the other Psyc courses because it won't be relevant to trading. Also consider, for your own personal development, to read books in the "Personal Growth/Self-Help" section of your bookstore. If you have a stomach for these books, it should indicate a willingness to change yourself to be successful.

    And while you're at your local bookstore, I recommend you buy Market Wizards or New Market Wizards by Jack S. It's a great read because it interviews successful traders in North America so that you can learn from them. Don't try to re-invent the wheel when you can get the instructions from this book.

    I wish you the best. Trading for me is very fun and exciting in an intellectual way. I would never give it up.


    I have a degree in Statistics and a MS in Operations Research ... I worked in the corporate world for 15 years but have been trading my own $$$ full time for over 8 years. The math orientation is an asset if you want to trade using TA and analytical approaches. The Computer Science background you have can also be beneficial in that you can develop some of your own algorithms if you so choose to. Last, some Psych emphasis would be possibly helpful. You can have the best models and techniques in the world .. but the trades don't always execute as one might expect so you have to know yourself. And in trading it takes time to understand some of the emotions that we experience (i.e. fear, greed, panic, ....). Trading for a firm is different than trading for yourself; I prefer the latter as I'm my own boss and can trader where and when I want to. It takes time and perseverence to succeed in trading as it does most any endeavor but it's well worth the sacrifices in my opinion.
  9. =======================================

    [1]When you are getting wisdom get all three Jack Schwagers top traders books!

    [2] May Print & doctor up a 5 year chart of ''C''-Citibank Citigroup. Personaly prefer a home office ,not much stress.

    [3]Derivivatives are different;
    but study 5year monthly,5year weekly, 5year daily Citibank stock chart would help generally , more so you are actually trading it with a plan.
    Dont need a chart but , note ALL monthly numbers...

    [4] & {5}Learning really starts when money is on the line;
    watch:cool: ,preferably with money on the line, study Citigroup price moves on monthly charts =$40 & $ 5o & 55 plus area
  10. YOU GUYS ARE ABSOLUTLY FANTASTIC. THANK YO SO MUCH. Here's what I am going to do so far. RIght now I need my hands to heal so I am going to take it easy and read and study as much as I can. Next two semesters I am goign to get that damned college degree in Applied Math and Statistics.....I will study the series 7 as my first job will be with some connects I have at Citigroup as a Broker type....or better yet trader so I can practice with their money, if I can't get that.....this way I will make the money I need to invest while being around the markets.....I will read a good deal on the subject from all yoru recommendations. I already enjoy betterign myself through self-help books so that's no prob. and Jack S. is next on the list for things to buy. I was recommended to trading's nice as it's all day so you can work whenever the hell you want...and allows for small trades as I am not wealthy right I have opened an account on OandA I will practice trading that, maybe even putting in the small amounts of money I don't yet have........hopefully after a few years I can will be knowledgable of what the hell I am doing and make a break from the company and become a trader. I can then take some of that money and buy some realstate. THank You guys so much......
    I wonder another question....

    WHat is it that you guys trade and why?

    Thanks again.

    Marcin Gamza
    #10     Mar 26, 2004