When US banks closed their proprietary trading desks under the Volcker Rule six years ago, trading careers suddenly became a whole lot more boring. Since then, trading is about little more than matching up buyers and sellers whilst taking as little risk as possible – agency trading in other words.
One area of trading is immune to the tedium, however. The Central Risk Book trading desk.
“No one will working there will thank me for saying this, but Central Risk is now as close as you can get to prop trading,” said one London headhunter. “It’s about quantitative systematic trading across multiple asset classes and has become very important,” says Christian Robbins, a headhunter at London-based Alpha Tradestone. “Not many people know about it and fewer are capable of doing it.”
Fundamentally, central risk desks monitor the positions of trading teams across a bank and try to ensure trades are placed and hedged efficiently. For anyone looking for a more detailed description of the activities of the central risk desk (or central execution desk), FT Alphaville has a long one here. Suffice to say, central risk desks are highly quantitative.
In February, HSBC recruited Mahmoud Elarbi to head its central risk desk. Elarbi previously spent six and a half years as a central risk trader at BAML and two years as a systematic trader at Nomura. BAML moved Shrijit Plappally, former head of EMEA portfolio trading, onto central risk – possibly to replace him.
Hedge funds are keen on hiring central risk traders. Moore Capital Management recruited Ben Lynch, former head of Citi’s central risk desk in September 2014. This January, Lynch left for Man GLG to work on a systematic event driven fund.
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