What is "life" like at a normal HFT firm?

Hello WSO,

I've been lurking here for a while, this is my first post.

So I just got an offer as a software developer from one of these prop trading firms in Chicago, and it seems like a sweet place to work.

The only thing is how there seems to be overall a lot of men for each woman. Also, their fridge has a pretty substantial amount of vodka/liquor in it haha. I haven't done final round interviews with any other HFT firms, (I'm more of a compsci person than a finance person) so I was wondering if anyone could provide insights into "life" at these kinds of firms in Chicago ?

Is it normal for these kinds of companies to have a male-heavy gender ratio?

Is it normal in prop trading firms for there to be a lot of alcohol consumption? Is it a bad thing for there to be alcohol in a workplace?

Also, how much socializing is there between different firms? Would it be normal for say, DRW/SIG/Optiver/IMC etc folks to chill with Getco and Citadel folks?

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Comments (6)

Best Response
Nov 30, 2010 - 6:00am
trazer985, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Take my comments with a pinch of salt and a healthy dose of brit sarcasm.

You're going into a computer science/maths/physics dominated world and you're surprised there's so few women? I'm surprised there are any women.

You only need to go past the first page on google to see what life is like for a lot of people at these firms. Stressful jobs = need for major stress relief. It's sad to see some people turn to alcohol, drugs and paid for services but its their life not mine.

You're there to make money, nothing else. They won't look down on you for talking to other people, they will fire you if you tell them what you do at work etc.

Personally I view alcohol in the work place very poorly. Pizza, takeaways and a paid for beer after work, hard liquor on tap is not on. You might want to untag your actual employer from the tags in here, that won't go down well. It doesn't take long to work out which it is.

You are NOT in this job to make friends. You are employed to make them money. What you make out of it is your own doing.

P.S. Advice for life: Compare products before you purchase, after you've bought though, the grass is always greener, stop looking at the neighbours grass and you'll be a lot happier.

Nov 30, 2010 - 8:50am
7toaster, what's your opinion? Comment below:

OP here.

Just because it's a computer-science dominated field doesn't mean it has to be male dominated. I've done an internship at a leading tech company in Silicon Valley and trust me, there were a lot of strong female coders there, lol. On the whole, yeah, it's still imbalanced there, maybe like 25 to 30% women, but nowhere close like the 15%ish I saw in my HFT firm lol.

In my experience in Silicon Valley, alcohol was also a pretty big thing at work, with a party every Friday with wine and beer, and tons of company events and outings involving alcohol. So it sounds like you're saying it's pretty much normal for HFT firms as well?

Thanks for the advice on the tagging/employer stuff! I thought I had been pretty vague overall and I've listed half a dozen similar companies, but maybe it was kinda obvious lol..

Nov 30, 2010 - 7:53am
SLO89, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As a woman who has interviewed heavily around NYC and even at a few firms in Chicago, I think this email I received from a very helpful and knowledgeable contributor to WSO who works for a top prop firm summed it up perfectly:

"and u also should apply to so we can increase the number of females there by 50 percent lol"

  • 2
Nov 30, 2010 - 8:51am
wheninfinance, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What it's like to be a HFT programmer/analyst (Originally Posted: 05/12/2012)

When your buggy "number trade" algo accidentally goes the wrong way on non-farm and then blows up:

After you cover the exposure, see the P&L, and realize you somehow made money:

A few minutes later when the partners drop by to ask what the hell is going on:

More HFT hijinks: www.wheninfinance.tumblr.com

www.wheninfinance.tumblr.com "When in finance, do as your fellow monkeys do"
  • 2
Nov 30, 2010 - 8:52am
WSOusername, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I always lol at these because I'm just waiting for people to complain about how it makes WSO look like 4chan, lmao. I personally dont hate them though

GBS
Nov 30, 2010 - 8:53am
trailmix8, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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