Scott has learned a lot about himself over the past 18 years as a trader and portfolio manager in the fintech space. Below you can learn about his key takeaways and advice to young professionals looking to start a career as a trader.
When did you know that a career in trading was the right path for you?
When I was younger, I was really good at playing video games and had dreams of developing them through the first part of high school. Ironically, we had someone from the Chicago Board of Trade visit my economics class my junior year of high school to talk to us about trading. He explained that it was fast-paced, dynamic, objective, and very competitive. As a consummate Type-A personality, the familiarity of trading and a fast-paced environment naturally grabbed my attention. And from that point onward, I became laser-focused on making that my career…in whatever form it took.
What are your responsibilities as a trader?
Over the past 18 years my primary role has not only been trading, but also acting as a portfolio manager. Prior to DRW, I was a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs with the responsibility for overseeing a number of traders, later transitioning to DRW where I was also responsible for managing various global teams. Through it all, my role in a trading capacity has given me the greatest fulfillment, and at this stage in my career, I’ve simplified my life such that that’s my primary focus. Each day, my only real job is to find ways to outsmart others in markets and make money for DRW.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a trader?
The job can be very mentally difficult and stressful. Most people in this industry are high achievers and don’t like being wrong or losing. And I think for many of us, our self-worth gets wrapped up in our own personal success. In trading, you’re going to be wrong so much more than you have ever been wrong before, and sometimes, you’ll have long periods of time (even months or longer) where you can’t seem to do anything right. And it’s at those times when you wonder if you’ll ever be able to succeed again. So, a large part of the challenge in this business is having grit and being mentally strong and able to bounce back. When you have a bad day, it’s important to stay balanced and even-keeled, knowing that it’s all part of the game.
What is the biggest takeaway from your career?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned is the value in: “Just keep grinding.” Whether I’m having a good or bad streak, or whether I feel as if I’m on top of the world or just scraping the bottom of the barrel, I’ve found that there’s real value in going into work every day, working hard, sticking to the process, and watching the positive results aggregate over time. ‘Grinding’ doesn’t sound particularly sexy and it takes time, patience, and discipline. But it keeps you headed in the right direction if you have the right attitude and you’re willing to consistently hit singles and doubles rather than going for home runs at each opportunity you encounter.
What are the 5 most important skills to have to be a successful trader?
People succeed in trading for any number of reasons. For some people it’s because they’re very quantitatively oriented and that helps in the way they view markets. For others like myself, I think my greatest edge is my emotional intelligence which helps me to appreciate the psychology behind the market. The important thing is finding an approach, process or framework that works for you.
What advice do you have for young professionals starting a career as a trader?
It’s remarkably important to find the right situation. There are so many different markets that you can wind up in – some where you trade 200 times a day, some where you trade 20 times a year. Your personality, the way you approach things, and the way you deal with stress may mean you’re apt to succeed in some markets but not others. Don’t just blindly assume that all trading roles are created equal.
Additionally, the role is an evolving art and if you want to compete and succeed, you’re going to need to out-work and out-think others. You don’t just fall out of bed and have the ability to do well in this job, no matter how smart you may be. So be prepared to work very hard.
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