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The air is filled with excitement and a tinge of nerves, as a smart row of fresh-faced interns take to the desks. The coming months of intensive training will help to distil the unique qualities that separate the future stars of the industry from the rest. Their computer screens form a digital portal into the volatile world of the financial markets, where thousands of pounds depend on the click of a mouse.

Subtle movements on a chart and price ladder combined with fast paced communication between traders based all over the world reflect an interconnected, global system where the tremors from a revolt in Syria, a tornado in Mexico or Barrack Obama’s latest speech, can be felt in Canary Wharf. Amidst the candlestick charts, graphs, Twitter feeds and TV’s blaring out news, fortunes are lost and won in milliseconds.

Fortunately, no real money depends on the decisions of the young traders on the floor today. They are part of the latest internship scheme, testing their confidence, knowledge and skills on state-of-the-art trade simulators: the ultimate video game with millions in virtual money, and a lucrative potential trading career, at stake.

When these traders begin using real money, almost all of them will see a 70% dip in performance as psychological factors begin to take hold. Those who make it, demonstrating the necessary mental steel for the emotional rollercoaster of prop-trading, can expect big rewards.

How we fit in

Amplify Trading arose in 2009 out of the vision to capitalise on the IT revolution and post-recession market volatility, giving trainees practical experience of the real-time market world, coupled with expert support and continues to mould the rising stars of the industry. The training programme uses the latest in digital technology to transform talented university students into the elite traders of the future.

The days when traders phoned up their broker before placing a position in the market, or had to carry out thousands of trades manually, while peering at prices on screens, are long gone. So too are the days when traders anxiously awaited news bulletins, or where business was confined to the sweaty, noisy trade-floors of screaming white-collar traders, which have become the enduring image of the stock exchange.

Traders now use direct market trading platforms, which cut out the need for a broker, meaning deals can be made directly with the exchange, without the need for the ‘middle man’.

Real-time charting systems give traders a live feed into the price fluctuations of the global markets and traders receive news from a squawk box with feeds from Bloomberg, Reuters and Dow Jones news wires to name but a few.

Technology development has also lead to a massive increase in automated trading. Algorithms designed by maths and physics PhDs automatically execute thousands of trades a second based on the fluctuation of the variables which they are monitoring.

High-frequency trading systems operate at such incomprehensible speeds that it is estimated if supermarkets ran HFT programs, the average shopper could complete a lifetime’s shopping in under a second. Trades once confined to the trading floor, can be now be made in microseconds.

Although these automated systems have improved market liquidity it also means that simple arbitrage trades between asset classes are no longer a viable strategy for human traders.

This reality has made it even more crucial for traders to really understand what fundamentals will be driving market action as profiteering from arbitrage alone is now longer viable. This realisation has only increased the demand for professional training on how to analyse and interpret current macro-economic price drivers.

In such volatile markets driven by geo-politics, data and wider macro-economic events information is key. Office news terminals, and Reuters and Bloomberg mobile apps offer access to real-time news in an increasingly-fast-moving and interdependent financial world where staying ahead of the global information curve is crucial. Online technology gives traders an unprecedented degree of instantaneous contact with fellow traders scattered across the globe.

Trading offices also utilise a ‘virtual trade room’, a conference venue, where traders can tap into a live global pool of ideas, analysis and news through text, speech and video. This gives them in-depth, up-to-date knowledge of conditions in international markets

The IT revolution has allowed Amplify Trading to craft an innovative, one-of-a-kind series of training programmes, which form a computer-enhanced ‘baptism of fire’ for graduates seeking the dream of success in the financial markets.

Find out more about Amplify Trading.

Training for the finance industry

Candidates receive an induction on the Canary Wharf trade-floor, before being offered the chance to connect to the trade floor from any location, through the interactive On-Line Trade Rooms, where they can also obtain detailed theory lectures in technical analysis, market fundamentals and trading psychology. Students beginning the intensive programmes, are given a professional chart-analysis package, a live news feed where they can access market news from any location and a real-time trading platform thrusting brave candidates into the deep end, trading across volatile asset classes under the supervision of experienced traders.

Soon, a website will allow students to access their entire training programme online. The wonders of IT technology have allowed past graduates to successfully complete the programme from the Austrian Alps and, in the case of one lucky student, a beach hut in the Bahamas.

The intensive theory course, equips interns with the extensive knowledge in macroeconomics, behavioural finance, geopolitics, technical analysis and trading psychology and the fact that they are also hooked into the trading floor, means that students are gaining a combination of theory and real-time market experience.

How IT innovations are changing the finance world

As firms fiercely compete for the fastest execution speed there is concern from regulators about future transparency and market imbalances. A 2010 ‘flash crash’ saw a 9% drop in just 15 minutes, the fastest intra-day crash in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, powerfully illustrating the way in which high-speed computer algorithms can accentuate the slightest market blips.

The development of photonic chips and quantum computers, may herald a new age of trade at light speed. But ultimately, humans understand the inherent irrationality of markets in a way that machines never can. In a world where traders must work harder than ever to find that elusive profitable edge, only the best-trained and most experienced graduates, will survive.

About the Author

  • About Piers Curran: Piers Curran, Managing Director at Amplify Trading, explains how information technology is revolutionising the industry and helping to mould the next generation of elite traders.

Piers Curran

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