Starting a Career at Barclay's S&T: Good Idea?

buysidebandit's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,179

Title says it all. Is Barclay's a good firm to start out at? Ultimately I'm interested in an algorithmic/quantitative trading career, and I think working at an S&T desk could be a great supplement.
How does Barclay's S&T rank across other BB desks?
Also, what does a trading role at a BB entail? Is it mostly market making after the Volckler rule?

Comments (31)

Sep 8, 2016

If you want to be an algo/quant guy, don't work at a bank. Work at a prop MM (Optiver, KCG, Jane St., SIG) or do a PhD in machine learning or market microstructure or something.

Sep 8, 2016
Europeanson:

If you want to be an algo/quant guy, don't work at a bank. Work at a prop MM (Optiver, KCG, Jane St., SIG) or do a PhD in machine learning or market microstructure or something.

If I don't want to do HFT, is working at a prop MM still the best call? I thought working at a s&t desk would give me a lot of experience with the markets, moving large amounts of money, etc.

I would love to work at Optiver, Jane St., or SIG, but I feel like they're hiring a caliber that is way beyond my abilities. I'm not some math prodigy, just a kid who likes writing trading algos.

Sep 9, 2016

S&T isn't a bad career but it's not a springboard to a quant/algo role at all (unless you have an offer as a quant/algo trader at Barclays).

The guy above is right, go work at a quant firm if that's what you want to do. It sounds like you have a technical background, in which case working in development at a tech company would be a better path than S&T. People get the idea that S&T and quant trading are similar - the only real common ground they share is they operate in the same markets. The people they recruit, job responsibilities, culture, are different.

Also, don't be intimidated by quant firms. Yes, their interviews are tough, and near impossible to BS unlike S&T interviews. If it's what you want to do, apply and see where it takes you. Most of them give a lot more chances to kids unlike the grade/prestige-oriented BBs. I've interviewed with all 3 of the firms you've listed with decent levels of success and I'm not a math prodigy by any means.

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Sep 8, 2016

Unfortunately I'm not from a technical background, rather I'm a finance/information systems double major. However I know a bit about trading from a fundamental and technical point of view and I have taught myself some programming languages (Python, C, VBA).

Given that my background really only qualifies me for positions in the finance industry (I'm no software dev), what do you think would be the best starting position I could get if I wanted to go into algotrading? I can't think of any other relevant division besides S&T. I will apply to the prop MM's, but I have low expectations.

Sep 9, 2016

A lot of the algo/quant firms only want math/CS/physics kids but a few of them are willing to give you a shot if you show interest and aptitude. Optiver (everyone can take their test as far as I know), Jane Street, and possibly SIG, although I think SIG wants STEM majors as well for their quant trading roles. You could also apply to the other MMs like Spot and CTC but they aren't truly quant or algorithmic firms.

How strong are you at Python/C? If you've worked on some projects that you can list on your resume that'll help greatly. Also, as you probably know, math is a major portion of the interview. Mental math, probability, puzzles, algorithms/data structures (since you have a related major).

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Sep 9, 2016

What are your choices? Do you have banks other than Barclays to consider?

In my experience, Barclays used to be as good as any other bank: very good at some things, not so good at others. Since all of the well-publicized organizational turmoil occurred, they have definitely gone downhill, but they have not been alone in that. It remains to be seen if they can get their mojo back and how they plan to do it. FWIW, I don't think their most recent high-profile hire is gonna help matters one bit.

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Sep 8, 2016

Thanks for the post. Barclays is the only bank I have superday for and is probably my best shot (early cycle). Also interviewing at GS securities but I'm 99% sure I got dinged. OCR hasn't started yet (target school) so I still have a chance to apply to some banks if you have any reccs.

Recently applied to the BlackRock quantitative investment internship and honestly that's probably my dream job, but unfortunately I'm no where near qualified

Sep 9, 2016

Best of luck... Given your particular needs, I'd say Barclays should do just fine.

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Sep 17, 2016

What are your other options at this stage? if none then join Barclays, try for a quant desk and keep networking and trying. Networking should be easier having BB on your CV and you will build many contacts through work (although quant

Don't think about the bank brand so much for S&T. You could join a desk that Barclays is top 3 in or you might not. If you want to do algo then figure out whether Barc is strong in that (although things change rapidly. eg. my firm was #1 at a particular product till it wasn't) The trader at Barclays who is social will generally do better than the introvert trader at GS for exits. For quant places like Optiver where you have to give a test it won't matter anyways.

Lots of people don't realise most of algo is market making. Even at Optiver.

Yes trading is much more restricted now, but the more illiquid the product the more prop-like it is. Every trader has maintain inventory and position the book, so it's still a strong training ground for prop. Anything that is pure market making gets automated.

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Sep 8, 2016

Thanks for the reply. I currently have superdays for GS and Barclays. GS has a really nice electronic/algorithmic trading division which I would love to work in, but I'm not holding my breath.

What does "prop-like" mean, and what is it about illiquidness that makes products more prop-like?

Sep 17, 2016

I meant some desks in trading are better feeders to investor roles than others. eg. Distressed/HY etc. where you have to take on risk. the more illiquid the product, the more easy to justify an outright long/short position as the market may not support you closing out your position yet.

eg. the guys trading IG corp bonds/index likely don't have to analyse whether a bond is cheap or poor, so they don't necessarily have that investor skillset. they'll need to be great at understanding market dynamics

note that this doesn't necessarily mean illiquid/prop is "better" as the pnl is more "risky".. this is somewhat poorly captured by the RoE metrics. but yes i do feel that it prepares you better for buyside

If quant is your focus then all the above is not relevant. Have a friend at Optiver who joined after 2 yrs of non finance experience.

Good luck for GS! do well

Sep 18, 2016

I'd take the offer from Barclays. If it's not for you, you'll have some experience and should be easier to apply for other firms.

May 22, 2017

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Sep 8, 2016

I ended up accepting the offer at GS, but I really appreciate this post. Any advice before I embark on my summer analyst gig?

May 22, 2017

Surprised I haven't heard back yet either, 3.5 Stats/Econ major at a top 15 school with an algorithmic trading and an event driven hedge fund internship so it must have been pretty competitive

May 22, 2017

or maybe they didn't like you

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May 22, 2017

I think they only notified the accepted applicants. Does anyone know exactly what it entails?

May 22, 2017

I'm sure they'll send out the rejection emails 3 months later if they send one at all.

May 22, 2017

Any other accepted applicants?

May 22, 2017

Wait has anyone received an acceptance email?

May 22, 2017

Got an e-mail invitation on Friday. I assumed it would be a semi-casual networking/office visit event but they made hotel arrangements for people who are not from NY so Barclays really pulled out all the stops!

May 22, 2017

I also received an invite....hoping it's a pipeline for SA recruiting

May 22, 2017

better coffee in the pantry

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May 22, 2017
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Because when you're in a room full of smart people, smart suddenly doesn't matter--interesting is what matters.

May 22, 2017
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