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Trader Programmer Job Information
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Trader Programmer Job Information

  #1 (permalink)
Elite Member
Seattle, Washington
Futures Experience: Advanced
Platform: NinjaTrader, TradeStation
Broker/Data: Kinetick
Favorite Futures: ES
Posts: 18 since Oct 2011
Thanks: 15 given, 9 received

Trader Programmer Job Information

Hey everyone. After doing some software development and then getting involved in trading, I'm become interested in looking at a trading system software developer position. However, I'd like to ask the community to see if there is anyone out there with experience in a trader system developer job. Here are some of the questions I am looking to have answered:
  • What is the position like? What's a typical day like?
  • What are some of the benefits of working in a trading software developer position? What are some of the pitfalls?
  • What is it like working with traders/analysis/etc?
  • What are the most important skills for this type of position?
  • Would you recommend for someone else to pursue a trading programmer related position?
Any other information would be greatly appreciated!

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  #2 (permalink)
Elite Member
New York, NY
Futures Experience: Beginner
Platform: thinkorswim
Broker/Data: TD Ameritrade
Favorite Futures: Stocks
Posts: 963 since Jul 2012
Thanks: 648 given, 1,970 received

The spectrum of programmers in finance is an interval between two extremes: quants and developers. I'll try to describe the job that's close to the middle of the two extremes, but leaning more towards the development side.

What is the position like? What's a typical day like?
Regular hours. Debug, lunch, work on your designated project. Go home on pager duty. Sleep. Wake up. Repeat.

What are some of the benefits of working in a trading software developer position? What are some of the pitfalls?
Benefits - depends on the firm you're working for and position you're hired for - back-of-the-envelope, 5% of them offer much more exciting programming problems and better bonuses than their Silicon Valley competitors. Pitfalls - lower job security i.e. higher turnover rate, lower base salary than a tech startup or large software development company.

What is it like working with traders/analysis/etc?
Depends. I personally think software development in a trading firm feels more like a programmer-customer relationship (see: How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell - The Oatmeal) with your colleagues than a colleague-colleague relationship. It's frustrating sometimes because you'll feel that the expectations are unclear, or require some trivial piece of financial knowledge that is unbeknownst-to-you to bridge.

What are the most important skills for this type of position?
1. An object-oriented language like C++, C# or Java is common. A scripting language and SQL is also common. UNIX if you're doing more backend stuff. 2. You must find 'interfacing' work enjoyable. 3. You should have a passion for finance even though your job will entail little about learning more about capital markets. 4. You must be good with dealing with picky 'customers'.

Would you recommend for someone else to pursue a trading programmer related position?
Most of the time, no. And hence for good reason, even the top firms in finance find it difficult to compete away programmers from Google, Facebook etc.

Source: I hire a few full-time programmers. I do a decent amount of programming myself.

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