Moving from strategist to trader

Discussion in 'Commodity Futures' started by macro10016, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. Hello,
    I'm trying to make the jump from analyst to trader, but am having a tough time finding an opportunity to make the move. I'm currently a macro strategist at a small HF. I was previously a sales assistant at a BB bank, in commodities (mostly metals, some energy), but wanted to move into trading so took a chance at joining a small hedge fund as a macro strategist (with a substantial pay cut), with the hope that I would be able to move over to trading. However, I'm still finding it difficult to break into trading here, as the PM is really the only trader and I am not sure that will change. I'm 26 years old and I've been actively trading futures in my PA since freshman year in college (mixed results at first, but have become more and more consistent over time).

    Would it be a good idea to try and go out on my own in order to build a record? Would building a real 6-12 month track record of full-time trading help me? I have been keeping a detailed paper track record (not allowed to trade my PA intraday) of my trade recommendations, some of which are implemented at the fund. Would a trading firm take such a record seriously? What do I need to make the switch? Would I be able to land a position with a prop trading firm without a multi-year professional track record?

    I've spoken to a number of large HF's but the few that are hiring would not talk to a trader without a track record. Really not sure how to make this jump.

    I'd appreciate any advice you could give.

  2. bone

    bone ET Sponsor

    As an analyst, are you making buy and sell recommendations to the PM? If so, my advice would be to document the accuracy of those calls - a "shadow" track record as it were. If not, maybe become more assertive in that regard. The PM is only pulling the trigger and managing the position. Have you asked to PM if you can take on more responsibility? Ask him if you can babysit a couple positions for him. Make yourself more useful.

    There is a severe amount of employment dislocation amongst experienced traders in the marketplace - you couldn't pick a worse time in the past 30 years to attempt to strike out on your own. That's not your fault, but you need to try to take maximum advantage. Let's say that in 2010 the economy starts to uptick, and money sitting on the sidelines gets put back to work. Because you have been employed all along in a trading enviroment, even as an analyst, you will be in a better position than those out of work for the past 12, 18, or 24 months.

    I thank God that I have been able to grind out steady income trading in this marketplace. Truth be told, as a spread trader, things have been pretty good in 2009. Knock on wood.

    Good luck and hang in there.
  3. Thanks for the input, it is helpful and much appreciated.

    I do keep track of the reccomendations I make on an excel spreadsheet, which I print out and datestamp daily. It has been relatively consistent thus far. Obviously such a record is not auditable, though.

    Would this be marketable when seeking to move to a trading role at another firm, down the line (6, 12, 24 months out?)?
  4. In further response to your second point- in "normal" times I would be taking a more active role in trading the positions I reccomend - that is the principal reason why I moved offf the sell-side. However, I moved in Sept 08, and the markets have become very different since then. Given the current volatility of this market the fund has become much more focused on intraday trading than we had planned. As such, the PM has become much more involved in trading positions that I would ordinarily have more of a role in managing.

    Until volatility settles it is unlikeley that he would be comfortable having me manage positions. Unfortunately, I don't foresee happening for quite some time, given the similarity of this period to 1930's, which suggests several years of this at least.

    Again, thank you for your thoughts. Any further suggestions on what type of experience / documentation to build in order to be able to hopefully capitalize on some sort of turn in 12-24 months would be very helpful.
  5. Cutten


    You're a macro strategist - trade your views on your own account. After 1-2 years you will have your track record.

    I would worry more about how to trade well than how to build up a track record, because the latter depends on the former, not on office politicking or marketing.