It hasn’t been the best of years for Hong Kong’s trading community – led by Barclays, several firms have culled their cash equities teams.
But Hong Kong remains an important Asian trading hub and trading careers remain enticing for graduates in the city.
Who should you look up to if you’re a graduate or student aspiring to be a trader?
We asked headhunters in the field to recommend some (fairly) young traders who’ve had successful and interesting careers so far. Here are seven of them (with career details taken from their own public profiles).
Chinese securities firms in Hong Kong are trying to poach traders with Western experience and a Western education. Chen, who now works as an OTC trader for CICC, is a case in point. He has an MSc in Mathematical Trading and Finance from London’s Cass Business School, and he worked for four years in the UK, most recently as a commodity sales trader at GF Financial Markets. CICC poached him straight from his job in the City.
Is it possible to make a career change from research to trading? Lim’s profile suggests so. Until 2007 she was a transportation analyst – covering airlines, shipping and infrastructure – for Goldman Sachs. She’s now a proprietary trader at the same firm where she “co-manages a Hong Kong/China book” and also “runs an Asia-Pacific event-driven book”.
While some traders today are becoming desperate enough to take risk management jobs, Weng provides a (very) rare example of someone who’s managed to move the other way. He was at Citi in Singapore until 2010, his last job being in operations at associate rank. Now he’s a senior equity trader at Neuberger Berman, overseeing the entire equity trading desk for Greater China funds.
It’s increasing hard for young foreign traders to get jobs in Hong Kong – unless they already have international experience. Guillin, a derivatives and cash trader at RBC Capital Markets who began his second stint in Hong Kong in 2013, is as global as they come. He started his trading career at Credit Agricole in his native France in 2005 before clinching a transfer to New York. The bank then moved him to Hong Kong in 2007…and then back to New York in 2012.
Another expat success story, Becker’s career proves that you don’t need to change firms every two years to advance your trading career. Becker has been with Macquarie – in Sydney, Singapore and now Hong Kong – since graduating in 2007. In one of his recent roles, head of Asian dealing, he managed 25 traders across the Asian dealing platform while “spearheading the pilot programme for regional cash execution”.
Specialist quantitative firms like Jane Street are increasingly emerging as prime destinations for senior traders in Hong Kong looking to escape the large banks. But they’re also hiring a few juniors. Wang managed to join Jane Street as an intern in 2012 and became a full-time trader the following year. Impeccable academics look to be a must at quant-trading firms – Wang’s PhD in Finance from the National University of Singapore comes with a grade point average of 4.9/5.0.
Zheng has the kind of tech background that banks are now enamoured with. He boasts a PhD in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington and his first job was as a researcher and engineer at Microsoft, where he “specialised in building fast/scalable back-end computing structures for image/video processing using C++”. After 18 months at Microsoft, Zheng stepped straight into a quantitative trading role…at Goldman Sachs…at VP level. He now focuses on Delta One macro proprietary trading for Greater China.