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June 2, 2009

A Trader's Next Step

By Michael Scotti

The market run-up of April into early May was good news for Peter Cocuzza, an equity trading veteran of 28 years. A rising market typically means more trading volume, and for someone looking for work, as Cocuzza is, that's a godsend. "I'm starting to get the feeling that things are starting to turn," said the former senior trader at Oppenheimer Funds. "Before, maybe I'd only see a couple of positions on the job sites, but now I'm noticing multiple jobs."

Peter Cocuzza

  

After nine years at Oppenheimer Funds, Cocuzza thought he'd take some time off. He had spent his career at two companies-PaineWebber and its money management subsidiary Mitchell Hutchins. The move allowed him to take a breather and to spend more time with his family. Now, though, he knows it's time to get back into the game and back to work. Cocuzza has been gone for a year, leaving a seat right before the market began its gyrations during Bear Stearns' collapse. He admits to not anticipating this tight of a job market when he left Oppenheimer Funds, as the equity market was still strong.

Cocuzza believes that in the future electronics will take on even greater importance. He pointed out how traders like himself have had to adapt to a changing marketplace over the last decade, and the most successful ones were those who embraced that change. Cocuzza traded on six different platforms. That is why he's been leaning toward working at one of the top electronic trading shops. Cocuzza thinks he would work well with clients and get them to use a system more. "Who better to promote a product than a user, than a believer?" he asked. Hiring freezes, however, have been an obstacle to landing at one of those firms.

The word "passion" comes up frequently when Cocuzza talks about trading, and he is confident he can translate his love of the business-and the quest for best execution-into sales and increased market share for a firm. "Each product is unique," said Cocuzza, who thinks some additional insight from a sales rep is often all a firm needs to offer to increase its business with a client. Cocuzza points to the number of relationships he has developed on the buyside over the years through his participation in groups like TraderForum and the Investment Company Institute. "They know me," he said. "I want to be able to present a product and service to them."

He points out how important it is to maintain relationships during a job search, and to stay in touch with the people he has worked with and known over the years. Some of Cocuzza's best leads have come from these friends and acquaintances.

For the most part, he has kept a positive outlook and remained aggressive in the pursuit of his next job. He hasn't ruled out working for another money manager as a trader. He is also considering some full-service brokerage opportunities, where he'd work in a sales trading capacity. Cocuzza thinks firms that are ready when the market and trading volume catch fire will be ahead of the curve. "I've always felt that when markets turn, firms need to be prepared and have quality people in place," he said. "I'm ready."

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