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Don’t bet on picking up a prop trading job

Disillusioned? Disaffected? Distressed that you might be the recipient of a bonus no larger than a mouse dropping? If you’re a proprietary trader, then don’t assume that you can make amends by nipping over to a friendly proprietary trading house.

According to the Financial Times, prop trading houses are all the rage. Earlier this week, it quoted Grant Ashton, managing director of trading house Infinity Capital, who said there had been a “dramatic increase in inquiries from traders and hedge fund managers over the last month, with candidates on file rising from 650 to 1,100”.

We spoke to Ashton, who described himself as “drowning in CVs”.

“I get around 75 CVs a week – 15 came through this morning,” he added.

The CV influx isn’t entirely unexpected – Ashton is advertising for new staff. But out of the 1,100 CVs he’s seen so far, he says he’s only hired 11 or 12 people, which isn’t a very encouraging success rate.

Ashton says he’s looking for experienced traders with a demonstrable track record. “We have prop traders involved in everything from cash equities through to commodities, FX and rates. We offer the highest calibre traders the ability to earn an industry leading, formulaic compensation package.”

Prop trading firms like Liquid Capital are also said to be hiring. However, recruiters say enthusiasm for joining a prop house isn’t all that great.

“I haven’t seen a tangible increase in experienced traders wishing to join proprietary trading houses at this point,” says David Trowbridge at recruiter Walbrook International. “The general consensus among traders in investment banks seems to be that if you join a trading house you’ll have to take smaller positions.”

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