Commentary

Tim Quast
Traders Magazine Online News

We're All HFTs Now

In this guest commentary, author Tim Quast looks back at the history of HFT and how the market has evolved to where many firms now fit the definition of high-frequency trader.

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April 1, 2014

New Blood

By Phil Albinus

Today's headhunters are looking for more than a fresh-faced graduate with a dark blue suit from Brooks Brothers and an MBA. Likewise, the young millennials who grew up with computers, handhelds and social media have visions of their future besides being chained to a desk for 80 hours a week with the promise of a six- or seven-figure bonus every February. And banks are responding to these demands.

Asset managers want to appear cool and challenging enough for the "honor" of hiring this new batch of mathematical graduates. From what our sources told us, today's graduates are very smart and hardworking, and they have a definite idea of the appropriate work/life balance. One headhunter said that if a young millennial is going to work 60 hours a week for a firm, it had better be for one that he or she admires or owns themselves.

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The investment firms are listening-and changing. Even Goldman Sachs, the investment giant that appears to relish its image as a demanding and unforgiving place to work, has addressed the demands of young analysts and traders. Last year the investment bank established a junior banker task force that urges new hires to take the weekends off and not live at their desks. "The goal is for our analysts to want to be here for a career," David Solomon, Goldman's co-head of investment banking, told Bloomberg. "We want them to be challenged, but also to operate at a pace where they're going to stay here and learn important skills that are going to stick. This is a marathon, not a sprint."

High-frequency trading firms are trying to make their firms look more like technology start-ups than buttoned-down investment firms where Old Money goes to grow its portfolios. One high-speed fund we profiled is a place where the jeans outnumber the neckties, and they consider Google and not BlackRock a competitor. An area headhunters and recruiters need to address is the hiring of women, however. One headhunter told us the push to hire young women is barely on the radar from management.

Perhaps this will be the next revolution on the trading floor.

 

Phil Albinus

Editor, Traders

@philalbinus on Twitter

 

 

CORRECTION:

In last month's cover story "Inside the Broker Vote," Traders wrote that Standard Life Investments "uses commission sharing agreements to pay for the majority of its research but can pay brokers for research from residual monies via a broker vote process." This is incorrect. SLI uses commission sharing arrangements to pay for all of its research. Traders regrets the error.

 

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