Trader career path, salary and exit opps, asked before but need help!

Hey guys, I know this questions been asked a million times before but I'm really at a cross roads in my life and need some help deciding what to do. I would really appreciate it.

Im 26 years old, I have 2.5 years experience in financial industry with a 3.2 econ major from a non target. Right now i am working for a hedge fund as a prop trader, no salary, but no capital contribution either. In house training and propriety software, quant team to help us build out our own strategies etc.

I want to get a masters degree to improve my options for a career in finance.

I'm trying to decide between getting an MFE or MSF, a MFE is good for trading mostly and not much else perhaps risk or structured products. A MSF is more broad based finance like strategy and banking.

There are guys in our firm who make 50k a day swinging huge positions, at the same time there are guys struggling to break even for the year.

What I need your help is deciding if trading is the right thing for me. See when you're not in something you think that its the best thing in the world, and now that I'm a trader I see how hard it is.

Being a trader is like being a sports athlete, your performance is everything. That said here are my questions:

1) Right now I am not paid a salary, but if I were to get a MFE and get a job at say UBS or working for BP doing oil and gas trading, and I was paid a salary, could you loose your source of income just as quickly? I know that traders nowadays who have MFE's go into algo trading but eventually the goal is to trade and not write code. As a salaried trader will you be responsible for making money through the trades you make just like I have to do now at my prop firm. If I make a bad trade today at my firm that is money that I am negative on in my p&l. If I am BP suppose and I make a futures bet on oil and loose the firm 200k, does that mean I am shown the door basically?

Eventually as a trader your trades have to add to the p&l of the firm whether you use algo's or you use a crystal ball. If your desk is not making money you'll be out of a job correct?

2) If being a trader, performance is everything, what happens if you are fired, do you get blacklisted from the industry forever and dont get hired by other firms. Trading is a very unique skill set and I dont want to be pigeonholed. Would you have to go back to business school to get a different job?

Knowing my personality I dont like the fact that my job security is based on day to day performance, like an pro athlete. I am trying to establish a career that I know will progress upwards, it seems like one bad trade can destroy you.

So trading as a career is a high risk, high reward situation and you have to decide if you want to play that game correct?

In that case taking my personality into account, being risk averse, I think an MSF with a larger application in industry makes more sense.

What are your guys thoughts on this


Comments (6)

Apr 25, 2013

hey man, pm me, maybe i can give you some advice as an outsider...

Apr 25, 2013

interested as well

Apr 26, 2013

early in my career, i was at a fixed income shop, with top guys in the industry, very conservative, who closed down....there is risk to trading, now, I do not know if you are one trade away from the door if you go to UBS or a physical shop, but if you dont perform your out. Thats why you dont see many traders in their 50's (even 40's), bec they dont last for various reasons. I hope someone will pipe in with some advice on the physical side.

Apr 26, 2013

Back in the day people would get fired all the time and get a new job with relative ease (so I am told by the more senior guys), not so much anymore - you need to be good and have a good name in the product. Also, with so many traders floating around you're not exactly irreplaceable either so don't think being profitable entitles you to big dollars.

Apr 26, 2013

Here's my mentality and the mentality of traders I know at top BBs and HFs.

Trading is not for you if you're thinking of exit opportunities or "safety nets".

Apr 26, 2013