What does a DISCRETIONARY macro trader do at Citadel/DE Shaw/AQR?

I currently work at a BB vol desk and been thinking about exploring opportunities at macro hedge funds. Haven't really built a professional network yet as I am still very junior. But I just want to gather some information about what those macro fund might look for in potential candidates. From what I've found (i.e. stalking via Linkedin), most junior macro traders at multi-strat funds like I mentioned above have a bachelor degree in math/CS/stats/physics etc. (Although Citadel tend to hire externally from BB and DE Shaw seems to grow their own traders) For I know quant trading at those funds mostly require a PhD degree, those junior traders probably fall under the discretionary fixed income/fx/commodities desks. It seems to me the so-called discretionary desks at those funds still rely on substantial quantitative analysis as opposed to the more fundamental-driven traditional macro funds (e.g. soros/Brevan Howard/tudor) Can anyone shed light on what discretionary macro traders at those funds do on a daily basis, especially at the junior level? And is there any chance for a macro trader leaning towards fundamental analysis get a place in those multi-strat shops? Thank you very much.

Comments (10)

Best Response
Lexington55, what's your opinion? Comment below:

what do they do everyday? trade... watch the market, observe price action.. talk to sellside, or whatever contact you have you talk and glean as much as you can what the market is telling you and how others are interpreting market moves across various asset without losing sight of the larger macro tailwinds/fundamentals you have of the market. you sometimes spend the afternoon reading a decent research piece that someone you trust has flagged to you or a note written by someone you've grown to respect/trust over the years (usually someone who has a similar philosophical bent as you). attend dinners (which is often than you think... sell side is generous when it comes to paying for dinners and organizing a roundtable/conference/meeting w/ their strategists, other PMs, and etc) or lunch... and your day just zips by you... well probably BC you love every minute of it.

well thats how it is for me. i sort of just described my day.. im sure for others it can be different. but im that discretionary macro guy i assume you were asking about.

and the simple answer to your last question is yes. there are plenty of discretionary guys within the multimanager/multistart platform...so dont you worry.

quants all great and all... but at the end of the day... macro is an art... synthesizing all thats happening around the world and constructing a trade is the most beautiful thing about macro... and its not the most complex trades, layered with XYZs and stipulations of what need to be fulfilled before this and that before finally paying off... often times, the beauty and the fun of it all is to take all the hodgepodge of tailrisk and tailwind, developments, history, culture, technicals, and etc etc etc and reducing it to a simple view of, "im going long risk..." and vice versa... make sure you size it properly tho... your position's staying power is just as important as your thesis.

it's certainly a game that will make you eager to get up each day.

  • 7
ylu3, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks a lot for the reply. Just curious if there is any quant skill, e.g. data manipulation & analysis, programming language, simulation analysis, that is required for/considered preferred to the junior analyst positions in GM funds. On the sell-side, traders on the macro desks do not usually construct models. Nor did I take any programming language or data analysis class in college. Wonder if the deficiency of those skills would be disadvantageous to me.

Lexington55, what's your opinion? Comment below:

i once thought it was a disadvantage... but if you have a solid grasp of the changing narratives and of the overarching macro forces, you'll soon realize that the skillset you bring to the table is actually very different from the quant guys... where they might have good streak of winners while you fumble, you'll quickly realize that tables often turn and the world flips into an environment where predictive variables favor more creative and abstract approach to the markets.

Unfortunately for a junior analyst or analyst at those mentioned funds... you'll be doing a lot of not so fun things... and will be far removed for doing actual trades. Although.. if you have a generous PM who likes to develop you and dont mind sharing the spotlight, you might be allowed dabble on trades and eventually be given a chunk of his own book (which means he will take on your P&L risk as well). I've seen it happen... it happens more often than you think.

  • 4
Lexington55, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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