Beautiful Minds: Anatomy of a Buy-Side Trader

Does a Trader's Personality Traits Help Determine His/Her Success?

May 5, 2009

Today's buy-side trading desk is more cutthroat than ever. The buy-side has been unable to escape the troubles facing the sell-side bulge-bracket firms, and cutbacks on the desk have become commonplace.

In this story, The Anatomy of a Buy Side Trader by Advanced Trading's Executive Editor Cristina McEachern, trading veterans discuss the necessary attributes to succeed as a buy-side trader. Traits are broken down into four categories -- the Brain, the Brawn, Personality and Intangibles.

The story also includes the top ten traits of a buy-side trader.

"This piece is a must read for any senior manager looking to hire traders or manage traders -- as it will help them look beyond the everyday criteria like experience and education. In addition, in a market where job security is a concern, this story can help traders focus on areas that might give them an edge," says Advanced Trading Editor in Chief Kerry Massaro.

"The idea of this story was to get inside the minds of successful buy-side traders and uncover what makes them tick -- what motivates them and what it takes to stay on top of the buy-side trading desk," she adds. There are many ways to measure a trader's success, but this particular story takes a look at some of the more personal traits that help traders succeed.

An excerpt from the story:

As Wall Street hunkers down for a challenging year and buy-side desks face restructuring and layoffs, firms must make some tough decisions about which traders to retain, and the new buy-side trader must be ready, willing and able to adapt to the new market realities. This means the trader must be flexible, focused and, above all else, ready to do whatever it takes to succeed and hold on to his or her seat.

The value traders add to the process can be measured through various analytics, including transaction cost analysis (TCA) and best execution. But to delve deep into the anatomy of a buy-side trader and evaluate what really makes a good trader is often less quantitative.

"One of the critical elements of a successful buy-side trader today is a high level of intellectual curiosity," says Laurie Berke, principal at TABB Group and a former sell-side trader. "With all of the changes in market structure and the challenges of understanding algorithms and dark pools and electronic IOIs [indications of interest] -- if traders don't have a real burning desire to know that stuff, I think they will be overwhelmed."

Joan Stack, trading manager at Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), adds that buy-side traders must be open-minded. A sharp degree of focus is also key, Stack continues. "There is so much noise out there now with instant messaging and electronic alerts, buy-side traders have to be able to filter out the irrelevant and focus on what matters to get trades done in the best way possible," she explains.

According to Nanette Buziak, head equity trader at ING Investment Management, the buy-side trader must be proactive at all times and possess a lot of self-initiative.

Read the story in its entirety: 500284

About Advanced Trading: provides daily analysis and news on trading and technology trends. The goal is to provide its audience -- traders -- with the critical information they need to navigate and succeed in a dynamic marketplace. is a brand within the Techweb organization published by United Business Media.

About the Author:

Cristina McEachern is executive editor of Advanced Trading. McEachern began her career at Wall Street & Technology where she covered market data and risk management for more than three years. After leaving to assume a position in internal communications at JPMorgan Chase followed by a stint at CMP's VARBusiness Magazine, she returned to the financial technology arena with Advanced Trading. As Executive Editor, she covers algorithmic trading, data and infrastructure, and electronic marketplaces for the publication.

First Call Analyst:
FCMN Contact:


CONTACT: Kerry Massaro, Editor in Chief, Advanced Trading,
+1-646-242-6578,, or Cristina McEachern, Executive
Editor, Advanced Trading and Author of Story, +1-212-600-3119,

Web Site: