The job market for traders has become increasingly more difficult due to today’s uncertain Wall Street and City environment. Making money has become more difficult overall, meaning that banks, hedge funds, trading firms and others who hire traders have become choosier about who they hire and more willing to let positions stay open until they get just the right candidate. Worse, because their work is so specialized, traders can have difficulty finding new positions if they are laid off.
The squeeze hasn’t hit everyone. Those who come with the highest qualifications from the best schools and who already have experience at the top funds handling hundreds of millions are still in demand. Candidates tend to be younger and favor those who have had extensive experience at only a few firms, as opposed to those who have spent their careers jumping around. Having an area or sector in which one is a specialist is also very helpful.
The tight market is the first serious crunch since around 2010, when new regulations imposed after the fiscal crisis caused many banks to restructure their staffs. While some who lost their jobs in those reorganizations simply left the field, many others were able to find work with hedge funds or smaller firms that were less affected by the regulations. Unfortunately, not everyone has made the adjustment to hedge funds or smaller firms successfully, and these are the traders who are in the greatest danger during the current squeeze.
Those who are most likely to survive the current environment are those who are already looking at other options. Traders who are proficient in the new technology that surrounds electronic trading have the widest range of opportunities, as do those who have been working on start-ups of their own. For someone who has been playing with the idea of breaking into something new or independent, this job market squeeze may be just what they need to push them to take the plunge.
Because of their high pay, not many people in the general public feel very sorry for those struggling to stay employed on Wall Street or the City. However, these are people with special skills that can make a valuable contribution to many financial activities throughout the economy. While a few struggling traders may leave The Street for other fields, don’t be surprised if the famous resilience and optimism of the typical Wall Street trader translates into exciting new career opportunities for a lot of them. The only question will be exactly where those opportunities will be found.