You don't have to work in an investment bank to be a trader. Navinder Singh Sarao didn't, and he made millions - until he was unexpectedly arrested for alleged market manipulation earlier this week.
Singh's story may not be going well at the moment, but if you're a student who wants to work in trading and who hasn't managed to get a place on one of banks' incredibly competitive markets graduate programmes, it should give you hope.
Singh didn't attend a top university (he went to Brunel). He didn't get a job in the front office of a top bank (he worked in a back office job for a few years and then quit). He never thought about taking a CFA qualification. But he became a trader all the same.
Moreover, Singh did very well for himself. He trained as a trader at Futex, a proprietary trading firm with offices in London, Woking, Poland and Spain. In 2007, whilst still at Futex and aged 28, Singh wrote to Trader Monthly Magazine claiming that he was making $45k-$70k on quiet days and $133k a day on volatile days. No one else made this amount - arcades won't pay you a salary (you eat what you kill) and colleagues at Futex were reportedly struggling to earn £500 a week. Nonetheless, Singh shows that it can be done.
Futex is one of the companies that trains graduates as traders, but it's not the only one. If you want to trade, but you didn't get a place with a bank, these are your options.
Founded by Paolo Rossi, a former employee of the Bank of England, Futex offers both a 9 month graduate training programme and an MSc in proprietary trading.
Jon Harman, head of training and risk management at Futex, says they run three graduate training programme per year and can accommodate 25 trainees for each one in their London offices and an unlimited number remotely, Competition is high: even before Navinder Singh Sarao became a household name, Futex received 1,000 applications for its graduate course.
Harman says applicants are invited to an assessment day where, "they are given several different tests, exposure to a trading simulator and some background information about the company. Those candidates that look promising then attend 2 separate interviews and if appropriate are offered a sponsored position. We do not compromise our requirements to ensure a certain number for each course."
At the end of Futex's graduate course, you might be asked to stay on and trade full time."Futex sponsored trainees are usually given at least 12-18 months to prove themselves as profitable traders. Those who do so remain with us for many years and indeed we have traders who have been through our trading program and are still with us over a decade later," says Harman.
Harman says there hasn't been a rush of Singh-inspired applications yet. But it's early days.
For more information click here.
2. Met Traders
Met Traders offers an eight week graduate programme run by a group of former traders from London's Liffe exchange. Getting in is tough. Met trains around 40 people a year and co-founder Steven Gordon says they get 500 applications a month. How do they choose trainees? "We wave our finger in the air," Gordon jokes. Actually, they run two interviews and a stringent psychometric and numerical exam. Click here for more information.
3. Savi Trading
Founded by Sachin Shah, a former vice president in FX spot training at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Savi runs a training programme for graduates who left university in the past 24 months. Click here for more information.
4. Amplify Trading
Finally, you could try applying to Amplify Trading. Amplify trains around 180 traders a year and is already twice over-subscribed for 2015. Its training programme lasts for two months and costs £2.8k. Amplify is encouraging students to see it as an alternative to a summer internship. Some trainees stay and trade with Amplify after the course finishes, but founder Will DeLucy says around 20% go into jobs with investment banks. Click here for more information, or see our interview with DeLucy here.