I have received offers from Citi, Barclays, Deutsche for full-time associate level trading positions and I am trying to make a decision soon. The Citi offer is in either 1)Rates derivatives 2)FX short-term interest rates 3) FX options (I have the option to choose among these 3 desks). Barclays is for rates with flexibility as to which desk to be placed on. Deutsche is for FX (more of a quant driven trading role but flexibility in moving into short term rates and cross currency basis).

I am wondering about the pros/cons of trading fx vs rates and also which products within rates and fx may be a good place to begin one's career. And also any feedback with regards to firm choice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again.

Comments (7)


Congrats. To tell you the truth you could not go wrong with any of those banks in the FX/rates space. They are all at/near the top of those products and are all excellent trading banks in general.

I personally like Barcap as a bank the most, but the flexibility that Citi is giving you is golden especially since "rates" can cover a lot of things--swaps, swaptions,UST, Agency.

No one can dispute DB in FX.

I think that your options are DB or Citi with DB in the lead, but Citi is not so far behind that other qualitative factors could affect the decision (ie liking people more, shorter commute,ect). honestly you could not go wrong with either option.

As for Fx products, options and spot are completely different animals, and from what I have seen attract different types of people. Spot is extremely fast paced, and the people there are much more like what you would expect a trader to be. Options guys were much more chill, most were very quantitative (ie MIT, UPENN).

PM a user on this site named Revsly, he trades FX options and is very helpful.
Also, search this site, posters have posted what it is like to work in rates and FX and what it is like for both.

good luck and Congrats.

"Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."

Financial Modeling


Thank you very much for the insightful feedback Gekko21!


I would go with DB. They are known for being a top FX dealer and will allow you to take some risk. Citi has become so risk averse so I wouldnt want the limitations and Barcap I just dont really associate with rates

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

Best Response

I figured I'd post this here in case someone else other stumbles upon a similar dilemma. First off, congratulations, all of those are excellent offers in some very interesting areas.

I'll try to be as impartial about the two product areas as I can, because when I made my decision, two of the possibilities were Swaps/Swaptions (more likely Swaps) and FX Options, and obviously I chose what I did for many reasons, although I would have enjoyed doing either. Funny enough one of my friends is doing the swaps job now, so I'll try to give as much color as I can to the differences. Anyone feel free to disagree, these are based on my perspectives/experiences and no doubt others might have different.

From a macroeconomic perspective, both FX and rates traders look at a lot of the same releases and pay attention to the same signs. The most simple difference would be that in FX you might looking at a bunch of different economies at the same time, while in rates you're focusing on one (or maybe 2, but generally 1). Even this difference might not be so apparent because you could be a CAD Cross trader, for example. This is not to say FX traders are somehow more capable, its more likely that a rates trader is better versed in nuances of one economy since that is primarily what he focuses on. Either way, both have to pay attention to the other's product, because fx can drive rates trading and rates can drive fx trading. It's often very hard, in my opinion, to tell which is leading the charge at any given point.

Product wise, the life of a swaps trader is not all that different from a vanilla options trader. It has a quicker pace feel (not as quick as cash, but relatively), you deal in the bookies a lot to manage your risk. For the most part these spaces are pretty liquid, though of course there are exceptions. In swaps you are mostly focusing on your DV01, Convexity and spreads, while in FX Options you are mostly focusing on the greeks (Delta, Gamma, Vega, Theta, Vanna, GoV, etc) and smile/skew.

The feel of a Swaptions desk is more similar to a Structured Options trading desk in FX (correlation products like dual digis, worst-ofs, etc) in that risks are more difficult to conceptualize, the pace of the trading is much slower and liquidity can be non-existent. You might have half an hour to get back to a custy with a price. From what I can tell, the trading in these is more model driven than vanillas which is more supply/demand driven. Feel free to disagree.

Personally, I chose FX Options because I found the product itself more interesting, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who did the opposite for the same reason. Hopefully, you find yourself drawn to one over the other.

As far as the banks, DB is the best in FX, hands down. However, like is true at a lot of places, also make sure you enjoy the culture. DB has a very different feel from some of the other banks, which may suit you or not. Personally, I would meet with the desks of all of the different banks you are looking at if you can, and you'll almost immediately get a sense of whether you would like to work with these people or not, and whether you'd fit in to the bank/desk culture, because as strange as it sounds it can vary substantially. I know that was the case in my experiences, and one of the reasons I decided on the product I do now. None of your choices are slouches in these areas, so its not like you're going to make a horrible mistake by choosing any of them over the other imo based on "prestige" or whatever you want to call it. The franchise is good for all of them.

If you have any specific questions, or something I missed/didn't explain well, let me know.

TLDR: There is not a ton of differences between the two, each has similar parallels in the other. If you like one you'll probably find you'd like the other too. Banks have different cultures, meet with all the desks to see which fit you best.

Jack: They're all former investment bankers who were laid off from that economic crisis that Nancy Pelosi caused. They have zero real world skills, but God they work hard.
-30 Rock


Great post Rev, SB for you.

Quick question, how quanatative is a FX options desk? I wouldn't say I'm the most quanatative guy ever, but I can handle numbers fairly well. Thoughts?



It really depends, while vanillas are not incredibly complex, you should certainly be good with numbers (and it certainly helps when applying the concept of skew to risks). The more structured you go, the more mathematically intense the products become. Correlation products in particular have risks that are not so obvious, and can be difficult to understand imo. I'm not a mathematical genius either, I majored in math but I don't think I'd be a person who'd be able to do a phd. I wouldn't worry so much about it, unless you are recruited to a specific product, it likely would not be difficult to find your niche.

Jack: They're all former investment bankers who were laid off from that economic crisis that Nancy Pelosi caused. They have zero real world skills, but God they work hard.
-30 Rock

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