April 02, 2012

As the demands made of the buy-side trader evolve and intensify, finding qualified talent to man the trading desk is likely to become an increasing challenge. Meanwhile, thanks to Wall Street's lingering PR woes following the financial crisis, the infectious Occupy Wall Street protests and the meteoric rise of social media companies that compete for the same talent, some worry that Wall Street has lost its ability to attract the best and the brightest.

So are Internet behemoths such as Google and Facebook stealing future stars from Goldman Sachs and BlackRock? Not exactly, says Lou Ricci, an executive recruiter with quant headhunting firm Hagan. According to Ricci, who has been placing traders inside investment houses for 25 years (you can see his firm's job postings on the Advanced Trading job board), the economy has been the biggest hindrance to hiring inside investment firms, not the lack of qualified talent.

"It's been a tighter space for the past couple of years," Ricci says. "There is definitely competition with Facebook and those firms — no question. But the difference is, they don't hire a lot of people, whereas there are literally thousands of prop trading firms and hedge funds, especially in New York and Chicago."

Megan Costello, director of North America client services for Fidessa, says the current hiring slump is merely a correction that occurs in every industry. "It's much like when the tech bubble burst and Silicon Valley was affected for a short time — the same thing is now happening in the financial markets," she asserts. "In the long term, a career on Wall Street will not lose its appeal. But for now, other industries might grow while the capital markets continue to find their footing."

[Are the Buy-Side Trader's Days Numbered? Click here, to see AT's related story.]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phil Albinus is the former editor-in-chief of Advanced Trading. He has nearly two decades of journalism experience and has been covering financial technology and regulation for nine years. Before joining ...