Forums  > Careers  > Starting out at a small shop vs Joining an established firm  
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Total Posts: 17
Joined: Jul 2018
Posted: 2018-08-06 18:01
Hi everyone,

To preface I'm finishing up my (integrated) masters degree this year from a top 3 math department in the UK. I'm in an interesting position where I managed to get a part time job (full time in uni holidays) working at a very small market maker alongside my degree, which I've been doing for 2 years now. The firm wants to keep me on once I graduate with a salary higher than any of the top shops poking around my uni, however I'm stuck with a bit of a dilemma in terms of career development. My desk is run by a (very good I must admit) ecole le bla phrench quant who built the whole tech stack as well designed the core algo pretty much on his own. Given how small we are he wears many hats within the business and so doesn't have that much time to "mentor" me as such, instead giving me broad problems that we could benefit from solving and guiding me when I propose some sort of solution. This has worked so far and I've worked on a lot of interesting problems and taught myself a lot of useful things.
However I'm wondering if I'm missing out not going to a more formal grad training program at somewhere like optiver/sig etc. (all of whom recruit hard from my uni, had offers for internships from both last year but declined to continue working at my current place). At this point it seems I'm having to weigh up getting more money/freedom/(small amount of)equity versus potentially meeting a much larger range of people and getting a more regimented development from an established place. I was wondering if anyone here could offer some guidance/advice in figuring out what I should do next?


Total Posts: 47
Joined: Jun 2017
Posted: 2018-08-06 22:27
More money,
more freedom,
more interesting work,
% pts on the P&L

Not as much networking with the people in fancy suits as that other place

Pretty much says it all. Sounds like your current boss has it figured out...

EDIT: Elaborating a bit.. the way I see it, your current employer is best bid. And going anywhere else would imply you are not getting the full market price for your service. Why would you ever do that? Only reasons I see for doing that would be getting things like more autonomy, or more creative work in your daily life, or ownership (which to my understanding is exactly what he's already offering too). Or maybe I just didn't read it right.


Total Posts: 1475
Joined: Jun 2004
Posted: 2018-08-07 02:03
One thing to consider is the stability of capital. Being in a small place is nice until the going gets tough.

PS. Not advocating going anywhere else, though.

I don't interest myself in 'why?'. I think more often in terms of 'when?'...sometimes 'where?'. And always how much?'


Total Posts: 1067
Joined: Jun 2007
Posted: 2018-08-07 07:06
Yes, a small shop probably means more risk (even though big shops can get into trouble too). And if things go downhill you might not have developed a network like you would have in a bigger firm (former co-workers who went to other places and think highly of you).
Still: from what you write I guess a guy/girl like you won't have any problems getting a new job in or outside of the industry.

If you get payed enough to make you happy I think you are in a great position right now. Also keep in mind you don't have to stay forever....this is not a "now or never" decission, even if it feels like that

Ich kam hierher und sah dich und deine Leute lächeln, und sagte mir: Maggette, scheiss auf den small talk, lass lieber deine Fäuste sprechen...


Total Posts: 17
Joined: Jul 2018
Posted: 2018-08-07 09:56
Appreciate all the responses, very helpful. I think you guys are right in that the most risky part is the potential for it to go bad. We've had ups and downs since starting (actually due to non trading/system related issues) but we're in a good spot now.

FWIW if something went wrong/I decided to leave and I was applying to some other job, how much do you think a no name (but profitable) first company/job would be viewed as opposed to a shiny one with suits and a good name? From talking to my friends who have been doing those internships/grad schemes I have orders of magnitude more responsibility/exposure to the actual job than they do so I feel I could get through an interview, just concerned if it doesn't end well I might not get through the door at a different place (although I'd hope my degree would help with that). Thanks guys.


Total Posts: 465
Joined: Apr 2005
Posted: 2018-08-07 13:30
doomanx - the question re: if it failed - and you were to look at something new - it kind of depends where. banks probably wouldn't give that much (any) credit for the time you did at a shop they hardly know - however good your tech skills are.

But any quant hedge fund, prop shop worth it's salt (inc Optiver & SIG who you mention, and many others) would look into what you've done etc


Total Posts: 17
Joined: Jul 2018
Posted: 2018-08-07 14:10
Appreciate the response Hitman, that's reassuring to hear. Not particularly interested in working for a bank anyway so I'm okay risking that opportunity for a better time outside. Thanks for the input all.
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