Making the jump from technology to the business..

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by demoship, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. Has anyone done this?

    My current situation is I'm a front-office software developer at an investment bank (which means I develop trading tools for the traders).

    Obviously, I'd like to move into a role like being a financial analyst, or a trader. I'm starting the CFA program as well (I figure that'll get me some leverage once I start passing those exams).

    Now, I JUST started this job, so it'll be at least a year before I'll consider or be considered for a job role change, but obviously the earlier I start planning for it the better. (It'll probably be more like 2 years considering how crappy the financial sector is doing right now. At latest it's going to be 3 years. As soon as I have my charter in my hands, I'm either going to get a move within the company or I'll find a new job).

    A bit about my background:
    - 1 yr experience in the industry (I'm 22)
    - BS in Comp sci & business

    Now.. I'd be MOST interested in hearing from people who've ACTUALLY done it, and about their backgrounds and what they did to make the jump.

    I'd PREFER to stay with my bank for the move. Finding a new job may mean starting over with an entry level salary.. which would really really suck, since I can't even pay the bills with my current salary.
  2. To me its a pretty simple question, just like anything else dealing with groups of people who you know is vastly more important than what. The larger the group of people is, the more important this becomes.
  3. You are going in the wrong direction. I-Bank traders should consider going into I-bank IT positions.

    Traders and analysts are disappearing. Algorithmic trading is replacing people, and this will continue. In addition, there will be a lot of offshoring of some who remain. Trading can be done anywhere, anytime.

    I worked on an IB trading floor recently, and the areas where traders USED to be were continuously growing. And they were moving IT people into some of those areas!!!

    Don't shoot yourself in the foot. You are in a very good position. There is growing demand for IT people with financial experience. There is growing investment in their IT infrastructure.

    You want to trade, then trade on the side for yourself - the knowledge will also help you on the job. Do your job, and then come home and learn to trade markets that are open while you are home. electronic eminis trade all night. European and Asian markets are open while you are at home...
  4. First off, trading for myself is not an option. I have to have every single personal trade I do approved by legal and compliance in advance.

    Second, last time I checked, traders' pay is substantially > IT's pay.
  5. Demo:

    You just gave the answer to how to make the switch. If you have to go through Legal in order to place your own trade. It is a GREAT way to give some VISIBILITY to your trading skills.

    Find a stock. Do the research. Hey, even put a document together on why you think it would be a good position AND meet compliance requirements. Use it as a way to "get advice" from the trading manager on how to get approval from compliance on the trade. Let him or her know that you are working on your CFA.

    It would be a GREAT way to build rapport with the right people and HIGHLIGHT your interest in trading.

  6. Demo, you are in a better situation than most to make the switch as 1) you are familiar with the system already 2) in front office so have working relationship with the trading desk. But you need a few more years at least in IT i would say.

    If you dont have a good relationship with the traders, stop being an anti-social tech geek and go talk to the traders. Those guys will scream and yell during market hours especially in a down day, but after closing most of them are quite chatty and love to tell you about their war storeis especially since you understand the systems.

    If you are a good developer and can turn around useful features for them to production quickly, you will buildup favors quickly.

    Then it's just a matter of waiting for the right opportunity and asking, if you dont ask or at least express your desire to work on the business side, noone will ever know.

    I havent done it myself but know plenty of developers in the exact same shoe as you who did. Some are making a lot of money, but most regrets it and wish they could go back to the leisure IT jobs, the pay isnt that much better (at least at the beginning) and the amount of stress/work right off the bat is quite intense.

    Think through carefully if that's what you really want.

    The alternative route is get a mba from a top b school and get hired as a trader, it's a lot more work and doesnt make sense for you as you are already foot in the door.

    PS do not trade if your compliance requires approval, and most will ask you hold it for 10-20 days before able to sell. Doesnt make any sense to do it. I guess you can always papertrade.

  7. That is like saying that people who worked on the Titanic made more money.

    Where the hell do you work? Try heading over to your prime brokerage or derivatives trading department, and make a few friends. Ask them about algorithmic trading and the future of the human trader. God help you if they are clueless about the industry trends.

    Try rereading what I said. Algorithmic trading is taking over for traders. As an example, take a look at what is happening to trading pits around the world as an example. They are disappearing rapidly. It is going electronic. It is cheaper. Same thing at the trading centers for GS, MS, UBS, MetLife, banks, and everywhere else.

    I worked in an Investment bank. The IT department was growing rapidly. But we had traders coming to the IT dept trying to get jobs. In 5 years, it will be a bloodbath as advanced algo trading takes over much to most of the human involvement and decisions.

    And at many financial institutions, the IT staff also gets the big bonuses.

    Would you rather be a $100K skilled IT person in 5 years making a 75% bonus at Morgan Stanley or would you rather be a "trader" making $27K as a Burger King assistant manager, where the only bonus is your free Whopper with Fries for lunch?

    DO you hear this? Why are you going to throw away your longterm career in order to become a maker of horseshoes, when everyone is driving cars?
  8. I already get ~ 100K total comp, but it just doesn't cut it.

    The problem is, I'm classified as IT. Which means I get paid on an IT scale, which groups me w/ people developing back end systems, PnL systems, etc.

    Some of the traders (who are classified as traders) still develop their own software/algorithms, and the ones that don't still have an integral part in the software development process.

    The fact is, the people making the decisions on what trades to do will always get paid more then IT staff. And provided I do make it to a trading position, I could always go back to IT provided I retain the skillset needed.

    And I do intend on making friends w/ the traders I work with. That was one strategy I planned on doing from the beginning. (And even if it wasn't for trying to get a promo, I'd still make friends w/ them, since traders are interesting people to talk w/)
  9. Your trades are approved by someone you never see or talk to.

    You enter your trade request (and they could give a damn what your rationale is) into this form.

    The form basically has a few bits of info:
    Security ID
    # of units you want to transact

    That's it.

    You could pull letters out of your ass to come up w/ a symbol that you want to trade. As long as it isn't on the restricted list, they'll approve it.