Dash CEO: Buy-side trading desks will soon be mostly technologists

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A decade from now, maybe sooner, buy-side trading desks will be staffed almost exclusively by technologists, according to a top trading technology executive.

“I think you’ll see, in 10 years, the paradigm completely shift, where the buy-side [trading] desk will be staffed almost exclusively by technologists and perhaps a small group of experts who know where to go for specific, hard-to-find liquidity,” said Peter Maragos, co-founder and CEO of tech-focused brokerage Dash Financial Technologies.

Maragos doesn't believe that automation on the trading floor of buy-side firms is simply about human casualties.  Automating many of the more manual, repetitive and time-consuming processes allows management teams to focus their human assets on projects that add more value, he said.

“Generally speaking I think that the electronification of our markets has been a huge positive for investors,” he said. “Whereas 10 years ago you had maybe one or two people on each buy-side desk that would be considered a technologist, that number is much higher now and will only increase."

At the beginning of this year, technology-focused brokerage Dash Financial was handling 6.5% of daily options trading volume when it announced that private equity firm GTCR had engineered a merger with LiquidPoint, Convergex’s options trading and technology unit. It now has 13% market share in options execution that is now expanding its equities business with backing from its PE parent.

This also means that it's hiring. “We’re always on the lookout for talented individuals who can help add value to our business,” Maragos said. “Obviously in an industry like ours, we require people with the requisite trading industry background, but we also look for candidates who will fit with our agile, entrepreneurial culture and bring a willingness to challenge the status quo.”

Rather obviously, Maragos believes that traders need to have an understanding of technology. But, he says, softer skills are always needed.

“And I think it helps to be curious about the world, too – politics, art, music, sports and science,” he said.

“The relationship aspect of this industry is still very important, and whether it’s spending time with a colleague on a business trip, a client at a dinner, whatever it might be, being able to carry on an intelligent conversation about varying topics makes those experiences so much more enjoyable, at least for me.”

Photo credit: Sergey_Nivens/GettyImages

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