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Insights From The Trading Show Americas 2020

Posted on September 2020

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Selby Jennings recently had the privilege of partnering with The Trading Show Americas 2020, which took place in a new virtual format this year. This virtual conference brought together senior-level quants, traders and technologists from across North America, to discuss and address the most critical developments impacting quant desks, crypto funds, and high-performance trading operations in 2020 and beyond.

Selby Jennings Director, Jeff Koehler, had the opportunity to join esteemed panelists, Hannah Van Campen, Former Manager of HR And Culture at Tower Research Capital, and Caroline Randazzo, Director of Recruitment & HR at 3Red Partners for a discussion on “Competing with Big Tech for Quality Talent”. In particular, the panelists discussed strategies for retention planning, modernization, and employee engagement.

The following sections outline some of the key discussion questions for the panel and the insights shared by these industry leaders.

Has the “new normal” affected hiring in the trading industry?

“Indefinite remote work” has become the new phrase that trading firms are using when bringing on new employees. It has allowed candidates to feel comfortable knowing that they can work remotely while waiting for the effect of the pandemic to subside.

On the flip side, “big tech” companies have been dangling the idea of permanent remote work for engineers, and it remains to be seen how trading will look at remote work over the long term. In some cases it was too good to be true in “big tech”, as prominent firms such as Facebook, Twitter, and VMW have already begun announcing pay cuts for employees that leave the Bay Area to work remotely in cheaper cities.

Has there been an impact on retention?

Outside of performance-related layoffs, retention has been generally good. Where we have seen departures is more on an individual level, if a candidate is stimulated by the collaborative aspect of the trading industry and feel siloed in their day-to-day.

How have interviews changed when transitioning to a remote setting?

Interviews have definitely changed beyond the switch from in-person to VC meetings. At first, it came down to coaching candidates on the proper etiquette (look presentable, ensure the room you are interviewing in is neat, avoid household distractions); and coaching hiring managers on how to react to the unusual circumstances because sometimes distractions at home are inevitable.

We have smoothly transitioned from whiteboarding to online platforms such as CodePair, but one interview round has become extremely important in a remote setting. While a traditional “onsite” gave each candidate an opportunity to feel out the surroundings, the “team call” portion of an interview has become much more crucial in a candidate’s decision-making process. It is important to train all interviewers, including those who would be peers, to express what a day-in-the life looks like on their teams.

Get in touch with the Selby Jennings team for more insights from the event, and how our team can support your talent needs.

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