Rates, FX & Commodities Desks in London

Hey guys,

We all know there's no such as a bank ranking for trading, everything depends on the desk and things change a lot because entire desks move between banks, but I wanted to get your opinion on what are the top desks in London for these asset classes at the moment, since they are the ones I'm more interested in (particularly rates). I've done some searching and I can't find anything good, everything related is quite dated and usually refers to NY, but I thought SocGen, BNP, Santander or Nomura might have good desks in Europe.

I really want the input of FICC traders more than "I've heard that..." kind of answers from High School students. I've done an internship in a decent Rates Trading desk, so I know some things about it, but I want people like Revsly for example (although you have to be objective and not put CS at the top lol) to pitch in. If you could all provide your top 5 desks for each we could do some kind of poll and come up with a "ranking".

The way I see it (although I might be terribly mistaken) is:

Rates: GS, JPM, no idea maybe Barcap? I've heard they are pretty solid, but not very reliable source....
FX: DB, GS, no idea.
Commodities: GS and MS, rest are very tiny.

Thanks very much for any help!

Comments (15)

Oct 29, 2011

Rates - JP, DB, GS, Barcap

I'm starting to question if GS is actually that massive in flow or if they just used to make sick prop, either way, balance sheet size is getting to be a must in rates so GS will probably slip further.

DB and C are the biggest FX houses, GS are nowhere.

MS and GS the dogs in commods, the others just bugger about.

Oct 29, 2011
etrain86:

Rates - JP, DB, GS, Barcap

I'm starting to question if GS is actually that massive in flow or if they just used to make sick prop, either way, balance sheet size is getting to be a must in rates so GS will probably slip further.

DB and C are the biggest FX houses, GS are nowhere.

MS and GS the dogs in commods, the others just bugger about.

By C you mean CS? Can you explain a bit more on the balance sheet size issue?

Nov 4, 2011
etrain86:

Rates - JP, DB, GS, Barcap

I'm starting to question if GS is actually that massive in flow or if they just used to make sick prop, either way, balance sheet size is getting to be a must in rates so GS will probably slip further.

DB and C are the biggest FX houses, GS are nowhere.

MS and GS the dogs in commods, the others just bugger about.

DB, UBS and Barcap are the main players in FX. Citi, JPM and HSBC the next three.

Best Response
Oct 29, 2011

http://www.risk.net/risk-magazine/research/1589948...
This link is a good reference point for commodities across the board.

    • 2
Oct 30, 2011

C as in Citi.

Cash rates require funding, pre-crisis you could fund at LIBOR flat so balance sheet size/leverage was not an issue. Now you must fund your positions, so we are seeing a trend where the universal banks have the balance sheet size to fund larger positions than the independent broker-dealers and so can facilitate larger flows.

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Nov 3, 2011

Rates - depends on what you want to see, JPM can gives terrible execution because they don't have to, think of their implicit franchise for corporates in the rates mkts and tendency to not take prop/large size risk ... GS facilitates large clients / often ignores the rest (sales is paid by trader's call on value added), since they have an appetite for risk -- a large macro fund can go to them for instance and get filled ... DB sees a lot of flows as they have built out this business but less prop like JPM ... Barcap has large franchise value as well (inherited indices for instance) ...
Nomura London is very good at European rates

FX - DB ... UBS, Barcap ..... Citi, JPM (particularly Asia) .... GS, CS

Nov 4, 2011

The biggest FX houses are DB (19% market share), BarCap (17%) UBS (16%). no discussion.

oOo

Nov 4, 2011

Also depends whether you're talking spot/forwards/options in FX. Anyway, at the end of the day stop trying to rank banks. I care about PNL not prestige.

Nov 4, 2011
Revsly:

Also depends whether you're talking spot/forwards/options in FX. Anyway, at the end of the day stop trying to rank banks. I care about PNL not prestige.

My goal is far away from ranking prestige. The question is I know what assets I would like to trade, I need to figure out where can I get the best experience/learn the fastest/ call it whatever you want. Just trying to get opinions on how to make a decision.

Nov 4, 2011
Nov 5, 2011

Wich of the three asset classes do you enjoy most?

oOo

Nov 5, 2011
claas:

Wich of the three asset classes do you enjoy most?

I'd say rates. It's the desk I did my internship in (in one of the groups mentioned here actually) so I might be a bit biased. Also I think it would be the easiest for me to get in, since I have a decent knowledge of the products. I spent some time with the FX guys there and I liked it but not as much. I think I would like commodities over FX and less than rates, but unfortunately I don't have any first hand experience in a desk.

Nov 5, 2011

What happens to traders who end up on desks that are particularly weak at that bank, the ones that they keep around just because they have to show prices for as wide a range of products so customers are happy? Are those pretty dead-end jobs, in terms of comp and HF exit opps?

Reason I'm concerned is that the desk you land on is largely due to luck (hiring needs, good fit with coworkers) , so it's not like you're guaranteed one of the market-leading desks at each BB even if you get an offer...what happens if you don't get rates at GS/JPM, or FX at DB/BARC, or commodities at GS/MS?

Nov 5, 2011
houseofcards:

What happens to traders who end up on desks that are particularly weak at that bank, the ones that they keep around just because they have to show prices for as wide a range of products so customers are happy? Are those pretty dead-end jobs, in terms of comp and HF exit opps?

Reason I'm concerned is that the desk you land on is largely due to luck (hiring needs, good fit with coworkers) , so it's not like you're guaranteed one of the market-leading desks at each BB even if you get an offer...what happens if you don't get rates at GS/JPM, or FX at DB/BARC, or commodities at GS/MS?

First of all, some places have desk-specific offers, so you know where you will be placed if you sign.
If it's a generalist offer, I disagree with your view that it is largely due to luck. If you do the internship there are plenty of things you can do to get the desk you want. If you are coming directly as a FT it can be a bit more tricky though. You have to consider the alternatives, but generally speaking you don't want just one desk, there are usually 3 or 4 positions you will be interested in, you'll be asked to rank them and you will get one of those.

Nov 7, 2011
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