Case study

Business owner — Patrick Reid

As co-founder of The Adamis Principle, a company set up to help mentor traders at all levels, Patrick is keen to pass on his knowledge to students so they can realise their potential

How did you get started in trading?

I've had an unusual journey because it was quite late on in my life when I decided I wasn't happy with my career in television. However, an opportunity to change direction came by chance - through a friend's husband who was a big prop desk trader.

I'd always harboured dreams as to what it would be like working in this industry, with visions of the film Wall Street. Being rather brave (or foolish) I enquired as to whether it would be possible to apply for their one-year apprenticeship offering on-the-job training. I was delighted that they said 'yes'.

One thing I quickly realised is that trading for a prop desk works differently to anything else. In this role, you're self-employed and rent a desk with a typical 70/30 profit spilt. You get the screens, squawks (traders communicate with the firm's brokers through an intercom speaker) and terminals - along with the office space. Your hours are very flexible, but if you don't turn up to work, the rent doesn't get paid.

Why did you decide to start your business?

We felt that there was a serious lack of talent out there - especially in education. Unfortunately, this industry is prone to people pretending they are traders. Our team has over 30 years of experience in hedge funds and banks. We talk both the retail and institutional language because we've done both, and what's more, we know what it's like to feel the pain of not understanding markets. At the moment, our mission is to educate and inform students by simply telling the truth. We're currently touring universities in the UK.

Describe a typical working day of a graduate trader.

The first year will be very tough with desk starts at 6.30am and you can forget a social life. If you can last for a year, you should survive. I never made any money until my second year and then I did really well. A day normally starts with a market view, a briefing from the head of the desk and a discussion on the opportunities that lie ahead. That said, if something kicks off then you can forget a 'typical day' - as you'll need to deal with whatever the market is throwing at you.

Most mornings are wrapped around data and announcements. Lunch is taken at the desk and around 1.30pm is when New York really wakes up - along with receiving some US data. It can be especially busy at 3pm, but most of the day can vary. I try and fill any gaps with macro research and testing out new trading strategies. The finish often comes late at around 7.30pm.

What training and support can graduates receive when starting out?

Social media is abundant with research, so in that sense it's much easier. On the other hand, you'll need a very good filter to block out the increased noise. Many graduate schemes offer additional training for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) qualifications, but in my view, the best training is from pure desk experience. I remember learning how crosses work (odd currency pairs that aren't traded that much) and this was taught by someone with 35 years' experience.

How does the role develop?

For me, the more you develop the less you tend to trade but the size you manage is much bigger. Macro and risk management become even more important and trading cross assets is a must.

What advice would you give to graduates hoping to become traders?

Don't be put off if your exam results aren't that great. Start trading on the demo (an experimental platform), learn how markets work, find a mentor and study the markets each day. Most major banks publish top quality research articles each week, which are free.

However, it's important not to trade with real money until you know what you're doing.

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