Where are the people to sell the new electronic trading systems?

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Electronic trading systems are hot. Such is their hotness that both Deutsche and JP Morgan have explicitly identified electronic trading as an area of strategic importance in 2010.

JP Morgan alone plans to invest $200m in electronic trading over the next two years. And Deutsche is aiming at a top two position in electronic equities cash trading by 2012, as well as planning further investment in rates and FX electronic trading to maintain its market share.

Recruiters in the area say Nomura is also, "really seriously concentrating" on developing its capacity in electronic trading, while most banks are eager to increase their high frequency trading capacity.

But while electronic trading is ostensibly hot, there haven't been many hires so far in Europe this year.

Marcus Newman, director and specialist in the electronic, algorithmic and program trading markets at recruitment firm Riversdale Consulting, puts this down to the restraining influence of the bonus tax: "Post April the 5th, the merry-go-round will start again. High frequency is the big area of growth at the moment - everyone's trying to build there."

Come April, Newman predicts resurgent demand for good algo quant developers, who are, "very difficult to find."

However, the real pearls are said to be good salespeople with a proper understanding of the new systems. "Electronic trading sales used to occur on the basis of price and undercutting rivals. Today, it's all about differentiating by product," says Neumann.

"Banks now need salespeople who can sit down with clients and discuss their execution needs in order to come up with a tailored solution," he adds.

Tom David, an electronic trading specialist at search firm Allemby Hunt, confirms product knowledge is paramount: "The emphasis is on a strong sales background and a detailed understanding of the product."

The favoured salespeople have often been electronic execution trades in former lives. The pay on offer is impressive, although not astronomical compared with other areas. An experienced VP with a book of hedge fund contacts can reportedly earn $700-750k max. However, $500k is more likely.

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