What’s the deal with s&t?

Junior at top liberal arts school double majoring in econ and English w a 3.5 cum GPA. I would love for someone to describe the current state of trading. I'm no quant but I'm pretty good with numbers and am both very personable and assertive. I know that the trading floor has changed over the years but is there still a a way to be a trader if you aren't a quant or fluent in multiple cs languages? I know there are multiple forums on this already but answers are really all over the place and a lot of the comments are dated.

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Comments (7)

May 14, 2022 - 3:12am
Scapinetto, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You do not need to be a quant or a CS guru but all trading desks will look for a background that display a capacity to deal with numbers and programming skills / exp. will massively help. Some desk will be less quant-heavy than others but the trend is to hire people who are able to bring a "quanty" flavor as a junior. Also, it does not hurt to learn statistics+programming as this would broaden the scope of places where you can apply >> BBs or Elec MMs. Difficult to consider applying to Optiver/Flow/Jump and the other usual suspects if you are not solid in maths+programming.

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May 14, 2022 - 2:24pm
nontarget kid, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Oh man, where to start.  This is a good question.

Sales: I think it really depends.  You'll find that's a common theme within S&T and finance in general.  I think flow sales is pretty tough for younger people these days.  The glory days are over and most products have moved towards electronification.  And while some MD relationships with key buy/sell-side customers are still important, I think with the rise of indexing and multistrats, the value of relationships has decreased over time, unfortunately.  These days it increasingly feels like the model is to have a couple MDs and an army of associates/analysts in sales (with a few EDs and VPs sprinkled around).  If you're one of those analysts, it's kind of tough right if you look at that situation/landscape?  I.e. what's your progression?  I think this is partly why I've noticed the younger ranks in sales churn pretty regularly and quickly, especially with the rise of software/tech/FAANGS/crypto/etc. giving ample alternatives for personable salespeople.  It doesn't help that compensation is usually better at those alternatives, at least at the younger ranks.  It's just a tough situation as a young person coming in these days.  With that said, if you're persistent and catch a bit of luck on the right desk, maybe structured sales of some kind, you can probably still carve out a niche.  For example, perhaps some young guys might carve a niche in crypto sales at traditional banks once this bear market and imminent recession are over and the market continues to develop.  I think that's what makes sales tough these days - carving out a niche for yourself has become more and more challenging.

Trading: Again, it really depends.  It's tough to really define a general path.  While it definitely helps to have math and comp-sci these days, I don't think it's a die-hard requirement.  I've seen English majors crush it in trading while Comp-sci guys want out after two years and vice-versa!  A lot of this has to do with the recruiting/internship system which I think still has lots of flaws, but that's another conversation.  I think what's most important is the people you work for in the beginning.  Are they developing you, are they teaching you, are they helping you grow and become better.  If the senior guys aren't investing in you, it really doesn't matter what you're trading, it won't be a good time.  With respect to desks, I think while flow products will always require some human traders, those seats are definitely becoming less plentiful due to technology.  On the other hand, structured/exotic desks will always require humans, but will you actually learn how to trade or will you just learn how to model?  So that's something else to consider - how close to the actual market do you want to be versus on an exotic desk, the actual underlying market has been abstracted away to a degree.  Another consideration is which one of these paths would be more likely to land a macro PM seat at a fund in the distant future?  With respect to the business model, I think it's pretty tough these days.  Costs are fairly high and sticky, regulations seem to only get more stringent, liquidity has become more challenged, etc.  And the allure of other alternatives plagues the junior ranks in trading just as I described it above in the sales section.  So it's becoming harder and harder to attract and retain talented young people.  With all that said, if you can land in the right spot at the right time, it can still be fairly lucrative.  And if you do have a talent and relentless dedication and drive to be better, the buy-side is still a viable option especially as macro trading is popping off and the demand for talent on that side is exploding.  But be sure not to move too early!  You need to have utmost confidence in your ability and cannot be afraid.

May 15, 2022 - 8:23am
qualea, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Depends on how you define the term 'quantitative'. If you mean it by knowing some coding skills, and utilizing some mathematical bases, here is what I think: 

just based on my personal experience as SA in BB, for equities there were sthng like facillitation trader, cash equities trader(this is different from D1 trader).  Interns at that team knew 0 about math or coding, just some market knowledge(not sure if I could say they have products knowledge since products can range from single stock, to exotic options which everyone knows depth of understanding is completely different btw those) and good communication skills: -> got the return offer at that desk. 

For Fixed Income desk, I don't think there is actually a desk where no quantitative skillsets are needed. But other ppl could possibly shed some lights here:) 

But keep in mind that this is only a perspective of former intern

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May 15, 2022 - 1:34pm

What exactly is D1 trading? Specifically, I'm curious about delta one structured products (are all D1 products structured by definition btw?)Interning at a BB this summer, but I don't believe the D1 desk participates in the rotations. I'm still very interested since I've heard D1 trading desks are the closest to prop trading, and I'd love to know what they do/ what skillset you need

Jun 5, 2022 - 5:33am
mayoineko, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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