A trade support specialist, also known as trader's assistant, works under the leadership of a senior trader and helps him appraise investment products. A trader's assistant also aids corporate portfolio managers and clients in identifying and monitoring securities on financial markets. A trade support position typically requires a bachelor's degree in a business field.
A trader's assistant uses math skills and complex computer algorithms to evaluate investment opportunities and provide recommendations to a firm's head trader or portfolio manager. For instance, a trader's assistant at the bond trading desk may advise senior traders on investment opportunities in bonds, convertible bonds or credit default swaps (CDs). A trade support specialist also may partner with a risk manager to assess market and credit risks implicit in corporate securities exchange transactions.
Education and Training
An assistant trader usually holds a four-year college degree in finance, accounting, auditing or investment analysis. However, based on position requirements, an assistant trader who works for a large financial institution or supports a busy trading desk may be required to hold an advanced degree, such as a master's or doctorate, in finance, economics, statistics or econometrics.
A trader assistant's total compensation typically includes wages as well as cash and stock bonuses. This remuneration also may be based on economic trends, developments in securities markets and the firm's performance. An assistant could receive a higher salary if he holds advanced academic credentials or professional certifications. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median annual wages for trade support employees were $68,680 in 2008, with a salary range of $40,480 to $122,270.
Career growth opportunities for trade support employees may vary, depending on the industry, the firm's size, regulatory requirements and staffing needs. A trader's assistant with a bachelor's degree can improve his chances of professional advance by enrolling in a university's master's or doctorate program, and graduating. Or, he can seek a professional certification such as the chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation. A competent and skillful trade support specialist may move to a senior position within two to five years.
A trader's assistant generally works from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. However, she may work on different shifts if business conditions require it. For instance, a Chicago-based trader's assistant supporting the Asian corporate bonds trading desk may stay late at night to discuss investment opportunities with a head trader, or provide recommendations to a firm's Japan-based client who wants to invest in convertible bonds in the United States.