Does anyone else feel that trading is stupid and not intellectually stimulating at all?

I've worked as a trader for around 4 years now from structured products trading to linear to options and I find it completely stupid. To be fair the structured products desk (exotics and hybrids) was quite intellectually challenging and I found the work interesting. You could always dig deeper and understand more about the inherent risks and characteristics of the product.

But now most of what I do all day in my role is punt FX and I find it completely stupid. All I do is stare at charts, hold a finger up to the wind and make a trade and endure the swings. I have a budget to make on pretty much non-existent flows so I have to keep at it all day and when the day ends I wonder wtf am I doing with my life. My colleagues are stupid but hey, nobody said you had to be smart to punt in the markets.

Seriously all you ivy leaguers and engineering whiz kids in trading, why are you still in this??? Are you guys really happy that his is all your reduced to? I'm really thinking of throwing in the towel.

And to the hardcore guys in quant funds, granted i was never that good enough in school to join a quant fund and probably won't ever be but all that work with arcane models to squeeze out some pnl. Shouldn't you be curing cancer instead? I don't have inside experience on what you guys do but from what i've heard and read (https : //www . quora . com/ Do-hedge-funds-use-the-generalized-method-of-moments)

I mean for real? You guys don't have anything better to do with your skills?

Am I the only crazy one here?

Comments (28)

Apr 26, 2018

FX trading is essentially gambling unless you have inside information from central banks.

Apr 26, 2018

Not really. You can make money in FX trading if you have the correct strategy.

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May 4, 2018

Are we talking retail trading? I actually have found the spot-forex market to be completely shady as fuck. A lot of brokers have gone underwater for giving traders with deposits of $1000 notional values of $1,000,000 (doesn't make it rigged but pretty insane).

Aside from that, you can actually compare spot-fx charts on different brokers, and they will never look alike. Probably front-running orders, and displaying a manipulated spot-rate.

Apr 26, 2018

Trading is only as stupid as you want it to be... Surely you can come up with a way of doing it smarter, so that it's a bit more intellectually stimulating?

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Apr 26, 2018

Your right, there could be a billion things I could test, models I could build, to see if I end up with some strategy and probably distract me a bit. But then I think about the effort I'll have to put in just to eek out some PnL on some report at the end of the day, not to mention the desk I work for isn't really the most supportive environment for this kind of thing, not when my colleagues basically just go "hmm.. my gut tells me spots going to go up" and think they're a complete genius when they get it right.

Now I'm not just saying that. I'm supposed to help building up a fx options business in a new market thats not really there yet, thus complete absence of flows. In fact when I first started I was downloading data and testing strategies on weekends with R in the cloud since the stuff I did crashes my computer. I also worked on it in office. But half-way through all of that I just really stopped and asked myself wtf am I doing. I'm looking at data and charts all day and spending my weekends testing strategies just to forecast some numbers on a screen which I don't really care about.

I just really don't think this is the best use of anyone's time and effort, especially if they're capable of doing these crazy things (i wouldn't say i'm fully capable yet) and I guess that's what I'm trying to find out. Is it just me or are there other people in trading roles that feel the same way??? Instead I've attended a few weekend hackathons, worked hard after work on AI projects, and tried to network with people from different industries, mainly tech, to keep up with changes in the world. At work I just resort to the good old gut but I increasingly feel its a complete waste of my time and skills.

Martinghoul, you seem to be a PM at a hedge fund according to your profile, and I'm really hoping someone could tell me this. Why do you enjoy doing what you do? Are you able to consistently make money and feel like the master of the universe, is that what gives you your rush? (And i mean that in a very sincere way because lets me honest that's how we would all feel). Do you like the unpredictability of it all (which to me just clouds luck and skill)? I used to be a huge fan of quantitative trading but pretty much all standard alpha is commoditized now and it only works until you blow up. The new, weird, and strange stuff just makes you wonder if this is how technology should be used. I'm extremely skeptical of anyone who says they can beat the market consistently except for the select few (like Rennaisence Tech and some others) but then again I'm a cynical guy.

I'm nowhere near the top of the game, prob on the bottom rung, but I'm really just waiting for someone to tell me that there's more to it in this trading game then what I can see from here. I've already cleared out my work cabinets.

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Apr 26, 2018

Firstly, I know how you feel, since I have gone through a period such as you describe... That too shall pass.

Secondly, as to myself enjoying what I do, indeed, I do enjoy it, as I have described in an older thread. I find some aspects of the job frustrating, sure. However, overall, I feel that it's possibly the most directly rewarding job experience I have ever encountered. And yes, undoubtedly, one of the main reasons for this is that I have been incredibly lucky and have learned some valuable skills which allow me to be generally decent at what I do. I suppose that's why I actually am in the position to appreciate the aspects of the biz which so appeal to me.

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Apr 26, 2018

whats your background?

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Apr 26, 2018

trading is closely akin to other strategy games like chess. some people really enjoy chess...others do not. if you enjoy it, then you will be happy playing forever. if not, then go find a career that you do enjoy.

just google it...you're welcome

Apr 26, 2018

maybe its just me but I wouldn't really compare trading with chess, chess is a solved game if you can do all the computations. There's way too much noise and randomness in trading. At the end of the day its near impossible to tell if your just lucky or "skilled". Sure you can make stable money if you have client flow coming through or at least see or anticipate the flows but absent that, I feel every strategy is just a strategy waiting to be blown up

Apr 26, 2018

ahha grasshopper...but if you study blowups...you will see that they too occur with a predictable shape...and you can trade those too.

just google it...you're welcome

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May 1, 2018

deleted

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Apr 26, 2018

I've worked on three different desks

Apr 26, 2018

Honestly though, all my instincts are telling me to just get away from this but I'm wondering if I'm like the kid who thought maths was useless in high school or the guy always looking for greener pastures. I'm waiting to see if there's some adult whose going to tell me to stick it through because it's worth it.

Apr 26, 2018

if you are making good money...then stay and bank as much as you can...and use your free time for more "meaningful" pursuits...you can always do something else...but once you leave the trading business...its very hard to get back in.

just google it...you're welcome

Apr 26, 2018

what bank are you trading at? And why did you move to FX? that's arguably the dumbest product to be in since it's been completely automated for decades and the product is as vanilla as it gets

Apr 26, 2018

Technically I should be trading options but markets not there yet. I've got to try to make my budget somehow and I agree, fx is the most stupid product to trade. If I have to claw back my way into finance I'd rather go for a etrading role but I don't.think I'm.qualified for it yet with my background

Apr 26, 2018

Every trader I've ever met regardless of profitability hates it. But they also wouldn't want to leave it.

You think there is some great meaning in any career? You think Curing cancer will change the world? So everyone lives forever. Then gets bored and commits suicide. A cancer researcher might spend his entire career doing solid research but never gets lucky and ends up accomplishing nothing.

You think a tech firm job is special. Zuckerberg made billions so now people spend their days staring at tiny screens. Avicii gave people great music and then committed suicide.

Any career gets boring and monotonous. I think it's human nature to be curious and get bored and want to do something else. But the grass isn't exactly greener anywhere.

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Apr 26, 2018

From your posts seems like you want out too (haven't had time.to read in detail.correct me.if I'm wrong). What would.you do if you were me? I'm still 25

Apr 27, 2018

I don't want to leave. Curious though.

Martin ghoul said same thing. Every trader I've ever met hates trading and loves trading at the same time.

It's better than being a lawyer. I think every lawyer truly hates the job.

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Apr 28, 2018

I'll gladly take your spot...seems I'd enjoy it and appreciate it far more...

As others have said, you could perhaps do things to make it more interesting, or maybe you're just looking for meaning in the wrong areas. Your job is only one aspect of your life. What do you do outside of work? What do you spend your money, your time on? That could very much help with the way you generally view the world and your place in it.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

Apr 28, 2018

This isn't realistic. If you are a trader it is your life and all-encompassing. You don't become a trader to make a salary. Which means you spend all your time thinking about markets. It's highly competitive.

And yes as I said above every trader hates it too some extent. A friend of mine has had 5 buck years and he interviewed with other shops and they came off telling him he has a huge passion for trading. Then I talk to him privately and tells me how much he hates it. Truth is both parts are likely correct. It's Love-hate. Greatest game in the world but it's tough to devote yourself to markets and not hate it a bit.

Array
Apr 28, 2018

Sure, that's true. But...as others have said...any career with high risk/reward characteristics is going to be like this. Want an easy life? Go work that salaried position and clock just about 40 hours every week. I have a feeling many people who last at all in trading couldn't possibly last at all doing something like that. They'd lose their minds.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

May 5, 2018

I only have internship experience here but that's how I felt when I worked on the exotics trading desk. I felt a bit better when interned with a more bespoke sales desk. The human interaction part just felt much less arbitrary and meaningless than trading.

My view could be naive but I really think sales will drive the business in the future and trading and managing risk will just become a secondary activity done by computers. Thoughts?

May 5, 2018

sales and IT

Best Response
May 7, 2018
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May 7, 2018