Path to be a professional trader

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by JaredVennett, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. Hey guys, I'm a new member here and first time poster who aspires to become a professional trader and I'm seeking some advice from those who have made a successful and long term career in trading.

    Just to give you guys little background about myself, I am a 22 year old and finished undergrad back in May where I studied finance. I really had no idea what I wanted to do until senior year when I joined an equity research club at school and realized I found the public markets fascinating. Started out learning basic fundamental analysis of stocks but veered away from that style after reading a dozen plus books and learned more about discretionary macro approaches. I've find that a top down macro approach seems like it would suit my personality much better because I just find it much more fascinating. I've been studying for the first level of my CFA this december while working part time on weekends. I'm trying to build my own trading strategy while developing my own market views and am just about to start testing the waters with a small retail account. I'm not walking into this expecting to make money right away and have no plans to use more than minimal leverage while emphasizing a heavy focus on risk management and staying consistent with minimal draw downs.

    I've been doing countless phone calls/coffee chats with any professionals that are willing to answer my cold emails and get my resume out there but obviously getting that first foot in the door to get a role in trading is not exactly easy. An overwhelming majority of the professionals I have spoke to encourage me to learn to program because it's essential for data analysis. I plan on starting to learn a language in the coming weeks but I'm still trying to figure out which one would be most useful for the style I'd like to use. I don't have any interest in becoming a full blown quant who runs fully automated trading systems though.

    I'd appreciate any advice given as to what I should continue doing to set myself up for a career in this industry and what skills to focus on developing to make myself a better job candidate. I'm open to pretty much anything that'll get me close to the markets where I can learn as much as possible but I'd particularly like to end up on a trading desk that uses options such as FX, interest rates, emerging markets, or a global macro fund (I'm well aware the latter here is pretty unrealistic given my age and experience though so that's more of a long term goal). I know this is going to take years and thousands of hours of my life to achieve my goals and I'm not the type of person to expect my success to happen overnight. All I want to do is learn and grow as much as possible in the most efficient way I can given my current situation. Thanks to anyone who's willing to give a young aspiring trader some advice and direction going forward.
  2. guru


    Oh no.
    IMHO, there is no more need for anyone to be "professional trader" in terms of institutional jobs. "Professional trader" is a dying breed, trading desks are being closed, traders laid off, hedge funds employing "professional traders" either closing or converting to basic portfolio management and quant shops, etc.
    "Trading" was about outsmarting other traders, using big leverage and taking big risks. Now all that is gone due to technology/automation, competition, erosion of "edges", tight regulation, and no one really having appetite for someone "playing" with their money. And actually "professional" means exactly that: not "trading".
    So you may need to at least adjust your terminology and decide whether you want to be a "professional" (quant, programmer, etc.), or "trader" who works at home and plays with your own money.

    Maybe at least you could provide at least a single name of a currently known and currently trading "professional trader", as an example?

    Being a quant or programmer also seems commoditized since quants already have spent many years developing various quant toolkits/utilities/libraries for programmers to use, so not much else can be invented there. Programmers may still do some infrastructure work, but none of that may be more exciting that programming in any other industry.

    So I'm not sure what's your motivation, who you really want to be, and what specifically you'd like to accomplish.
    My advice would be to find an industry where you could actually innovate, contribute and grow - basically any tech company. Then if you'd discover/confirm that you're better than everyone else in terms of problem solving and innovating - then either some doors will start opening for you in every industry including finance, or you'll open your own doors by creating some technology or tools that you can use to sell yourself.
    And you'll be truly ready when you won't need to post questions like you just did :)
  3. tommcginnis


    A trader uses sub-minute, minute,..., hour, 4-hour,..., day candles, and doesn't give a RIP about anything in the CFA curriculum, and economic fundamentals only for as long as he can see their rippling echoes on his screen.

    An investor *may*be* an analyst first.
    An investor will use various parts of the CFA curriculum daily.
    An investor eats economic fundamentals and poops trade agendas -- thus,
    An investor works with day, week, month, and even year candles.

    Take the ancient, revered, reviled MACD and program it in Python for end-of-day data. Do manual strategy development, then code that. The put your CFA to work, and write portfolio rules. ("Risk management, baby!")

    You'll be well on your way.
    JaredVennett and Real Money like this.
  4. tomorton


    If you want to have employee status, why not pick something easy, low-stress, secure, with a good pension plan, that engenders transferrable skills, alongside congenial people, in a pleasant location? I can't think a trading desk offers any of this.

    A reasonable job will get you stability, living expenses, trading capital and a good credit status. All this time you can be trading long-term and refining your skills at shorter-term stuff as opportunity presents itself. Eventually you will be able to work part-time and trade part-time, and eventually go on to be a full-time trader on your own account.
  5. 22 years old is still quite young. Perhaps you should explore other ways to contribute to the economy?
    We all have our unique talents to contribute. Not everyone is suited to be professional trader. To be honest, although I love trading, I don't think the social value derived from trading is high. If a brilliant engineer wants to switch to this trading profession, I find it a pity. But if he really loves trading and is not motivated to continue as engineer, then it may be a good thing to switch. Important thing is to know yourself.
  6. Real Money

    Real Money

    This sounds like investment banking. This is the top-tier of competition in terms of academic and professional credentials. Salman Khan is the type of guy they hire. From his Wikipedia

    Khan attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), graduating with Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Course 6 (electrical engineering and computer science), and another bachelor's degree in Course 18 (mathematics), in 1998. He was class president in his senior year.

    Khan also holds a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

    I'll just give you my two cents.

    I used to think that I wanted to work in industry too, but in the end abandoned the entire idea of any kind of a career, in finance or otherwise.

    I decided that the competition was too heavy and that if I could just learn the damn trading and stay independent I would have better odds of success (because the only thing I really want to do is trade).

    Betting everything on a long shot like getting into banking without credentials like Mr. Khan seemed foolish. Second rate credentials will get you second rate employment (seems to be the hard truth).

    In the end I will have just funded myself with my own money.

    I can tell you this. My style of trading is absolutely ruthless. I built a system to give me an information advantage that is so complicated that nobody, and I mean nobody will understand it. I tried to explain it to the forum but nobody seems to have the necessary background in financial theory. It uses arbitrage to measure order flow. Using it I can monitor and front run fund flows between bonds and equities. The bond traders losses become my gains.

    I'm a math geek. This is the kind of thing that interests me


    good luck!
  7. fan27


    This is a damn good post!! The only thing I would add is that by getting a good paying job you will be able to quickly build up your own trading account. There is massive freedom in bank rolling your own trading and knowing you alone are responsible for your success or failure.
    Real Money, guru and tommcginnis like this.
  8. notagain


    million dollars, just solve this problem
  9. %%
    Good points;
    except I believe any trading/capitalism has a high social value- but I don't confuse work with life. BUT so few make a profit trading; learn to invest + trade from investing profits. HOPE this helps-it helped me...………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  10. schizo


    Other than a bragging right, an utterly useless info.
    #10     Oct 16, 2019