How Can I Jump from IT to Trading? Ask the Expert

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A. A lot of people in capital markets IT want to make the very same move, says David Schwartz, president and CEO of D.N. Schwartz & Co. Your success will ultimately depend upon the kind of firm for which you work and the kind of relationship you have with the trading desk.

"No matter how credible a candidate you are, if your trading desk is not in a hiring mode, nothing will happen," Schwartz says.

That said, developing a close relationship with the trading desk - particularly the desk manager - is essential so that when a job does become available, your name is among the contenders, he says. "Make sure he or she knows about your interest, and more importantly why you are qualified."

Supporting the trading desk is a far cry from doing the actual trading. Your best bet is to let the desk manager know you are willing to learn, Schwartz says.

As for jobs outside the firm you are now, the best way to explore this is not through recruiters, who tend to work at the more experienced levels. Most major firms, however, have entry level programs for which the recruiting is done by an in-house team, and where the initial contacts are made through a web site run by the firm for this specific purpose. A lot of people apply this way, but if you are qualified in terms of your academic background, and if the recruiters see that you have already had some exposure to a trading environment through your IT assignments, you way well get the interview you are looking for. Then of course, it is up to you to impress the recruiter with your ability and your desire to get the job.

However, Deborah Rivera, founder of New York-based Succession Group, says that such a move is so unlikely you're better off doing it at your current firm - where you already have some credibility. You're more likely to be successful with that route than by going to a new firm, where they don't know you, on the "promise" of trading someday.

But it will take shear persistence, self-assuredness and conviction, Rivera says: "You may start out by sharing some trading ideas with a senior trader who will recognize your ideas. If a few work - you may get his attention."

In the meantime, Rivera suggests trading some of your own money. Show some successes. Do you have a track record? Can you show a return on equity with your own cash?

"If you do not have an answer for any of these questions, what makes you think you want to trade or that you even have the ability to do so?" she asks. "You need to start somewhere so just do it. Start trading."

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