You want to be a trader in an investment bank, but you don't have trading experience and you failed in your attempt to get a markets internship. Is it worth paying for trader training instead? We spoke to Will De Lucy, co-founder of Amplify Trading, a proprietary trading firm that also runs trader training courses. Predictably, De Lucy says it is worth paying for training. This is what he said alongside that.
Every month, Amplify takes 12-15 people onto its two month trader training course. “The first month of the programme is more theoretical,” says Amplify co-founder Will De Lucy. “There is really where you learn the concepts. The second month is all about applying those concepts and analysing how well you’re doing.”
“We’re mostly already full this year and are twice over-subscribed,” says De Lucy. “Although, there are a couple of spaces left in August,” he adds.
If you’re a student, Amplify’s programme costs £1.4k a month – making it £2.8k for the full two months. For a non-student or graduate the programme lasts three months and costs £1.6k a month.
Amplify employs its own team of 35 in-house proprietary traders, but the training programme isn’t necessarily a route into this group - typically only one or two people from each intake join it.
“Out of each trainee group of 12 or so, we usually have a mix of those who want to seriously get into prop trading, and ultimately stay with us, others are more interested in building their financial market experience,” says De Lucy.
How do you get selected to stay on after the training programme? “It’s very black and white,” De Lucy says. “It’s all about performance – if you’re profitable during the second month of the programme for three out of four weeks in a row, then we will consider you.”
“In the summer – through June, July and August – we reserve our training opportunities for students who didn’t get a trading internship and for whom our programme would be incredibly beneficial,” says De Lucy.
“We also get a large number of career changers,” De Lucy says. “It can be hard to move into trading from a middle office role nowadays,” he adds. Amplify’s training programme is a risk for these individuals, he admits: “They have to give up their job first, but it’s a step in the direction of the career they’re really interested in. Because our students trade on live markets, this isn’t unfortunately something that can be done in the form of an evening programme.”
“It's hard to monitor this exactly, but from what we can work out, at least 20% of the students who’ve been through our programme end up working for major financial institutions,” says De Lucy. It’s not clear whether they all work in front office roles however.
De Lucy says academic excellence is overrated in trading. “I got a 2.2 from the University of Leeds and when I started off as a bond trader 16 years ago I was working with a colleague who had graduated in mechanical engineering with a 1st from Imperial. My style of trading was very different to his, but my P&L was no worse.”
“Sometimes we find an excellent person and will help them with the process of applying to roles in banks,” says De Lucy. “I will sit down with them and work out where they want to go and how they can best reflect their experience on their CV. But we don’t make personalized introductions.”
Banks can’t run their own proprietary trading teams thanks to the Volcker Rule. However, De Lucy says Amplify’s prop-focused training course is still relevant. “What banks are looking for now is people who understand how assets move in today’s environment – how they’re interdependent,” he says.
“Our guys are interesting not because they’re potential prop traders, but because they’ve very clued-up about markes,” De Lucy concludes. “They can speak with experience on what’s driving market activity.”