Would you say trading desks are currently approaching recruitment in the best possible way?
No, I think trading desks are not renewing themselves enough. We are all facing an aging population of traders and we are putting ourselves at risk of having to renew our human capital all at once. Furthermore, I think when we are hiring, we have a natural tendency to hire people who are plug and play, who know the markets, the systems, etc. We are not asking ourselves enough the question: What are the skills that will be required for trading in five to ten years’ time? We also need to realise that younger generations will want more job mobility. It is highly unlikely that someone starting his/her career as a trader in 2023 will be looking to trade for the rest of his/her professional career.
How can trading desks improve their approach to recruit the best talent for the future?
The best talent for the future might be beyond “finance” profiles. One of the greatest challenges we have at trading desk is data analysis. We generate and consume lots of data but are not very efficient in what we actually do with this data or how we store it for future use. What do we learn from this data? How do we make it available for consumption in the right format with least effort? Data visualisation techniques will become key for trading. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words! Personally, I think people with gaming experience have great skills, but we are not attracting any yet. Unlike in the US where military profiles are common in the trading floor, we do not usually have this in Europe. It is a pity as they usually are very methodical and can bring many good things to a trading desk.
What does the future of the trading desk look like?
From a human capital perspective, I think the trading desk will be a steppingstone to do other things later on. Younger generations are constantly looking for challenges, thus we need to accept that we will have greater rotation. As a manager, this is a source of stress as we all like stable teams, so it will be important to balance your generation exposure while becoming more agile at training new joiners. A further point will be to be open to new joiners “recycled” from other jobs and be willing to invest in them.
From a physical setup perspective, I think the trading desk of the future will have some of its members virtually present. Today we are all doing some home working, but not enough people have installed cameras to be as close when you are WFH as when you are in the office. I think this is a possible evolution.
What do you think will be the biggest themes in trading and execution for 2023?
This year has already started as one of the most volatiles times in history. Trading is not easy; it is stressful for everyone but at the same time that is exactly why we all decided to trade as a job: We like the thrill of living historic moments.
From an execution perspective, one of 2023 themes will be the preparation of T+1 in the US and how Europe will adapt until this train catches up all. Also, we will be talking about consolidated tape, but I think this will go on for several years going forward.