Trader: job description
This article written by Akshit Gupta (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2022) presents the job description of a Trader.
Trading in financial markets refers to the buying and selling of financial assets (stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, etc.) in order to make money from capital gains that result from the increase or decrease in asset prices. In financial markets, a trader is a person who deals in the purchase and sale of securities. Traders try to maximize the capital gains on their trades by thoroughly analyzing the markets for the assets they trade in and accounting for the risk and return strategies.
Traders are generally hired by investment banks, investment firms, brokerage firms and commercial banks (currency trading).
Types of traders
There are different types of traders depending on the type of trades they execute and the clients or companies they serve for. We usually classify traders into three broad categories:
Flow traders are responsible for executing the trades on behalf of the bank’s clients and use client’s money to take positions in the market. They act as an agency trader and a proprietary trader at the same time. For example, if a client wants to buy the shares of an investment bank XYZ where the flow trader works, the trader will sell the shares of the bank XYZ to the client and serve the interest of both the parties.
The agency traders, also known as brokers, act as an intermediary between the bank’s clients and the proprietary or flow traders. Such traders generally take instructions from the clients and are responsible for skillfully executing trades to generate profits for the clients. The trader is responsible for searching for counterparties for their client’s demand and trade on the basis of the instructions received. The company earns fees and commissions on the trades the agency trader settles on behalf of the company’s clients.
Unlike agency traders, proprietary traders are hired by the banks and execute trades on behalf of them. Such traders are engaged in the buying or selling of financial securities by using the bank’s own money. Their objective is to generate profits for the bank. Proprietary traders generally possess more freedom than the agency traders in terms of the autonomy they hold to execute trades as per their discretion. They are also more accountable for the actions they undertake.
Types of securities
The trading activities of a trader depends on the securities they specialize and deal in. With the world of financial products becoming more complex, investment firms and banks have categorized different departments based on financial products they trade in. Some of the major investment categories include:
Traders working in equity products work in collaboration with the research team which is responsible for collecting and analyzing data about different companies and presenting the findings to the trading team. The traders act on behalf of the inputs received from the research team and execute the trades. In some firms, the equity trading desk is also subdivided as per sector specialization.
Traders working in the fixed income category generally deal in the bonds, government securities, treasury notes etc. They generally follow the macroeconomic trends of different geographies and trade in the fixed income products of a geography or a company on the basis of their interest rate policies and ratings.
Different banks and investment firms deal in currency hedges to mitigate the risk associated with cross border transactions. Traders working for these firms or banks trade in foreign exchanges and generally focus on mitigating the financial risks to the bank associated with currency fluctuations.
Some individual traders also deal in foreign exchanges on the basis of their knowledge about the geographical trends.
The traders working the derivates segment of trading specialize in one of the many categories of derivatives which involve equity futures and options, fixed income options, commodity futures, structured products etc. They work in collaboration with the respective research and structuring teams which are responsible for providing inputs on behalf of the current market trends.
Types of stock trading
The type of stock trading varies depending on the financial products they trade in and also on the type of trade a trader wants to execute. Generally, every trader skillfully executes a trade after thinking about the various factors including the financial burden, the risk appetite, the return expectations and the duration for which he/she wants to hold the trade for. Every trade comes with a financial cost and it is imperative for every trader to lay out the basic requirements before entering into any trade.
Some of the most common types of stock trading different traders across different financial products practice are:
- Day Trading
- Positional Trading
- Momentum Trading
- Swing Trading
- Market Making
With whom does a trader work?
Traders work in coordination with different teams which are responsible for feeding the trader with adequate research and data regarding the stocks the bank can invest in. In general, the trader works with the research team which is responsible for providing a summary of the company’s financials for which the trades will be entered. For structured finance products, a trader works with the quantitative, sales and structuring teams for getting the right inputs about the structuring of the products. They also work alongside risk analysis teams, to ensure risk adjusted returns on their portfolios.
How much does a trader earn?
The salary of traders varies upon the type of bank they are employed at and the relevant market experience they have. As per the figures given by Glassdoor, a novice stock trader earns a yearly salary ranging between €40,000-€60,000 in the initial years of their joining. As the trader gains experience, they earn an average salary of €70,000-€75000 euros excluding bonuses and extra benefits. The bonuses and extra compensations vary from bank to bank and the performance of the specific trader but are usually very high.
What training to become a trader?
In France, an individual who wants to work as a trader is highly recommended to have a Grand Ecole diploma with a specialization in market finance. The knowledge of coding languages like Python and R is also a very desirable skill in the current world driven by technology and automation. To start a career as a trader, it is advised to start the career as an intern or an apprentice at a French or an International bank while pursuing the diploma. This can help in building a strong foundation as a successful trader and learn directly from the industry practitioners.
What positioning in the career?
A career in trading generally involves long working hours and requires excellent research and execution skills for entering trades at the right time. A trader forms the backbone of every investment bank, investment firm, commercial banks, exchanges, treasury departments of companies and brokerage houses and is highly required for their proper functioning. The remuneration of a trader seems lucrative but comes with challenging situations and often requires strong analytical, research and communication skills, long working hours, financial knowledge, and IT expertise.
With the advent of algorithm-based trading, the trading floors across the world have shifted to high frequency trading and all major investment banks have reduced the size of their workforce working as a trader. With increasing liquidity across equities and fixed income products, algorithms have become more advanced and trades executed using such algorithms have become simpler. Advanced skills including knowledge of financial products and writing codes for the algorithms provides the person with an edge over the other applicants.
For more information regarding the remuneration and pay scale of a trader, you can refer to my previous post “Remuneration in the finance industry”
Relevance to the SimTrade Certificate
The concepts about trading can be learnt in the SimTrade Certificate:
- By taking the Exchange orders course, you will know more about the different type of orders that you can use to buy and sell assets in financial markets.
- By taking the Market information course, you will understand how information is incorporated into market prices and the associated concept of market efficiency.
- By launching the Sending an Order simulation, you will practice how financial markets really work and how to act in the market by sending orders.
- By launching the Efficient market simulation, you will practice how information is incorporated into market prices through the trading of market participants, and grasp the concept of market efficiency.
Article written by Akshit Gupta (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2022).