HF CTO/COO vs Trader

Hi all, I have been a browser of this forum for a very long time but this is the first time I am posting here. To give a bit of background of myself, I've spent my past 6+ years working as a quant developer on the buy-side. I have been focusing in areas of building quantitative research and algorithmic trading infrastructure and in coding model prototypes into production models for live trading.

Quite luckily, I have recently been offered two different positions for the potential next step in my career. The first one is to join a relatively new quant fund started in London by a very experienced, respected and well-connected veteran in the industry. My role would be to build up the technology infrastructure for trading and also to do execution trading (which will be mostly done automatically by my systems anyways). I was also offered the opportunity to eventually head up the operational side of the business and thus eventually become a COO or CTO type of role and a junior partner of the venture.

The second opportunity is to join a more established mid-size multi-strategy fund in Hong Kong to work as a quant trader. Here I'd be focusing on the research and trading of various strategies together with a seasoned PM. The way I see it is that this would be my chance to finally break into trading, something I have always wanted to do since I graduated quite a few years ago. As the fund is not a new venture, I would not be offered any "partnership" in any foreseeable future but will be paid the usual base + bonus type of compensation.

I am quite torn between the two positions as the first one seems like a natural progression of my career and the latter gives me a chance to do what I have always wanted to learn and do. Both opportunities also have tremendous risks associated with them: the venture of the first one might never grow to its full potential (who knows what would happen in these crazy markets) and in the second one, my trading might turn out to be not so successful after all.

I am not looking for someone to make the decision for me but would really appreciate your thoughts and comments!

Comments (3)

Jun 23, 2013 - 10:51am
Andrés, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sounds like trader option is more desirable for you: 1. You are saying you wanted to become a trader for years 2. If you don't do it now, you will be further pidgeon-holed as IT/Ops guy and each year will decrease likelihood of ever having this chance again; IT\Ops, on the other hand, will always be there: it is less competitive, and you already have background in it, which will likely enable you to get back if you want to 3. The Hong Kong fund sounds like a safer bet as it is more established

I see only one real con - the chance that you will not be able to become a good trader. Well, you know what they say: it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried. Regret from never trying will probably outstrip regret from trying and failing later in life.

Best Response
Jun 24, 2013 - 11:18pm
morgantire, what's your opinion? Comment below:

IT people always want to be traders. My advice is to be honest with yourself about why you want that. Be honest: do you want to switch to trading because you think you'd enjoy it more? Or because trading is (potentially) more profitable? Or because it's prestigious? If you want to be a trader just for the prestige, fine, nothing wrong with that; but just make sure you know what it is you want. If it's money: on a volatility adjusted basis, a senior IT manager (at or near the COO/CTO role) will prob make more in the long run than most traders. The senior IT manager will never make 100 million a year, but he'll never get fired and unable to find another finance job either (a very real concern among non-superstar traders). And plus the company is offering you a junior partnership -- yes, the firm is small enough that it might not succeed, but still, there's a lot of upside there. As for trading -- it's VERY hard to be a profitable trader. Do you have any reason to think you'd be better-than-average at it?

That said, though, one of the jobs is in London and the other is in Asia -- I suspect most people would probably end up making their choice based on that alone.

Jun 25, 2013 - 11:48am
justin88, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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