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Trading vs Corporate Finance

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    I am an EU student holding an offer for Maths at Cambridge. I think I did pretty well at the STEPs and most likely I'll search for a job in IB (either this or I'll concentrate into pure maths with hopes for a professorship). I am highly uninformed but I've read lots of guides around the web and I got the idea that trading is better suited for my abilities (it's more quantitative and requires concentration over periods of few hours a day; I think I've trained those to some extent with my experience in maths and physics olympiads) but there's no space for development. I mean that I have got the idea that in trading you do (almost) the same thing for thirty years and then retire. I want to know if I am wrong because if I'm not I would prefer several years of Excel and grammar checking in order to have something more dynamic when I advance in the career. Basicly what I want is a job which requires a lot of thinking on the spot and creativity and has room for advancement. Which one is better?
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    It depends what product you are trading (something complex/structured, versus trading in the same underlying stocks/FX pair all day (i.e no options/derivatives)) and who you are trading for.

    Again with corporate finance, it depends what kind of deal (or fundraising) you are working on and who you are working for (i.e. are they the last underwriter involved in a major offering , or do they have a primary mandate for a really unconvential deal (e.g. power company acquires fashion house), or an offering in niche sector.

    Your question is probably one that only you can answer having experienced a few weeks in both environments.
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    Thanks. Also I wanted to know if there is a way to advance in corporate hierarchy through a trading postition.
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    (Original post by Mechkov)
    Thanks. Also I wanted to know if there is a way to advance in corporate hierarchy through a trading postition.
    At a trading house, definitely. At a bank it is possible too (see Blankfein, former oil trader I think), although I think in general these people often come from the IB division.
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    best thing would be to do an nternship in both environments and see what you are more passionate about. they are very different, but given your background I think you are more suitable for trading
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    Wouldn't do trading for any prize, unless you are 100 percent sure about it. You do have literally no exit opportunities, so I would only join a trading desk if you are sure that this is what you want to do for the future. Maybe you could make a career change after some time of trading with an MBA (more common in the US), but otherwise, it's pretty difficult to make the switch.

    Corporate Finance/Investment Banking Division provides you with a broader set of exit opportunities. You could try to make the jump to Private Equity, Venture Capital, Long/Short or Distressed Debt Hedge Funds, Business Development/Internal M&A at a top company and even AM. Working in CF/IBD just doesn't pigeonhole you like Trading does.

    But sure, there's a trade-off. The lifestyle in IBD is non-existent (from experience) compared to trading. In trading you would come in fairly early, but you can leave the office at a reasonable time.

    Make sure to read as much as possible about the two careers in guides like Vault or on the web. There's plenty of stuff around.

    And I want to second massylib: If you had the chance do an internship in both environments, definitely do it. It will help you to figure out which career path to choose.
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    (Original post by PlusMinus)
    Wouldn't do trading for any prize, unless you are 100 percent sure about it. You do have literally no exit opportunities, so I would only join a trading desk if you are sure that this is what you want to do for the future. Maybe you could make a career change after some time of trading with an MBA (more common in the US), but otherwise, it's pretty difficult to make the switch.

    Corporate Finance/Investment Banking Division provides you with a broader set of exit opportunities. You could try to make the jump to Private Equity, Venture Capital, Long/Short or Distressed Debt Hedge Funds, Business Development/Internal M&A at a top company and even AM. Working in CF/IBD just doesn't pigeonhole you like Trading does.

    But sure, there's a trade-off. The lifestyle in IBD is non-existent (from experience) compared to trading. In trading you would come in fairly early, but you can leave the office at a reasonable time.

    Make sure to read as much as possible about the two careers in guides like Vault or on the web. There's plenty of stuff around.

    And I want to second massylib: If you had the chance do an internship in both environments, definitely do it. It will help you to figure out which career path to choose.
    I think this is quite a conservative outlook. You can transition into risk roles, provided you have the appropriate understanding. Quant analyst is possible if you have sufficient programming skills. Portfolio manager at a small place is possible if you have good contacts with the buyside and appropriate certifications weighing in your favour. An MBA can of course provide the rebranding to go into consulting etc. And if you work in a smaller market (i.e. non-NYC/LDN/HK/SG) then the transition out of trading into 'something else' can be achieved through tapping your network.
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    (Original post by effofex)
    I think this is quite a conservative outlook. You can transition into risk roles, provided you have the appropriate understanding. Quant analyst is possible if you have sufficient programming skills. Portfolio manager at a small place is possible if you have good contacts with the buyside and appropriate certifications weighing in your favour. An MBA can of course provide the rebranding to go into consulting etc. And if you work in a smaller market (i.e. non-NYC/LDN/HK/SG) then the transition out of trading into 'something else' can be achieved through tapping your network.
    Although I might agree that this outlook is kind of conservative, I would say it's fairly accurate. True, you may switch into risk roles within the bank/banks, but it's not that common for traders to switch to a corporate risk position. All the examples you mentioned are valid but it's not that typical like a IBD to VC/PE/BizDev switch.

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