High-Frequency Trade Experts in Demand

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While the credit crunch and equity downturn have depressed transaction volume and the demand for traders, at least one category of trading desk professionals is feeling little impact if any: those who work with high-frequency, algorithm-based trading systems.

Back in January, eFinancialCareers News cited high-frequency trading systems as one of this year's 10 safest Wall Street jobs. The trend remains intact. Banks' quantitative and algorithm-based trading desks continue to hire both developers and modelers, The Wall Street Journal reports. Even pure trading roles increasingly require a deep understanding of the dynamics of new market mechanisms such as dark pools.

The sell-side desks are responding to years of growth and post-crisis resilience among buy-side accounts that rely on model-based arbitrage strategies to generate quick profits through rapid-fire trading and execution.

"Large broker-dealers and small boutique brokers alike have taken notice in serving these funds," the WSJ observes. "Trading-based hires of the past few months have been focused on engineers and technology experts, with a new landscape on trading desks that is certainly not your father's Wall Street."

Barclays, Jefferies Add to Desks

The shakeup among U.S. bulge-bracket institutions is giving mid-market and foreign-based dealers an opportunity to gain ground among high-frequency fund customers by beefing up their capabilities in this area.

Much of it is pure speed: re-engineering one's trading system to make the rubber meet the road a few microseconds faster confers an edge over rivals, notes Barclays Capital electronic-trading head Frank Troise. Therefore, Barclays hires for high-frequency and algorithmic trading desks are concentrated on the engineering side, to build and refine the technological platform.

Modelers also are in demand. The WSJ cites Jefferies & Co.'s recent addition six market-savvy individuals to a quantitative strategies team. They include Jatin Suryawanshi, an algorithmic trading product development expert who formerly worked at UBS and Goldman Sachs.

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