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High-Frequency Trade Experts in Demand

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.

AUTHORJon Jacobs Insider Comment

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