Q&A: I have a feeling that when headhunters talk about "trading desks"...

... they are referring to more than just the woodwork.

And you are right. They are referring to different areas on the trading floor at an investment bank. The trading floor is typically divided into groups known as "desks." Generally speaking, each desk specalizes in one particular type of investment product, and provides traders with access to instantaneous trade executions. Desks like Treasuries, High yield, Convertibles are quite common. It's not uncommon to have 30+ desks at some of the bigger firms.

Supporting cast at each desk include (starting from the bottom of the food chain ;-)

  • Clerks: on a good day, balance the books and/or track the trades. On a bad day, take messages, and/or go get coffee. Mostly a dead-end job.
  • Trading Assistants: more involved with the traders. More exposure to how the whole trading works.
  • Trading analysts: produce bond price or yield calculations within only a moment's notice. Deal mostly with books of trades and numbers. Make a living off number crunching/Quantitative skills.
  • Trading associates: hired directly to a desk. Move quickly to full-fledged trading positions if all goes well.
  • Traders: the king of the desk.

The level of stress, noise and pressure can be quite demanding at the desks (but you won't remember that when comes the bonus time ;-) For many, the ultimate objective of working at the desk is to become a full-fledged trader one day.

Category: C++ Quant

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