The very special gift presented to 50 prop traders at Schonfeld Securities in advance of the celebratory July 4th holiday weekend... was a pink slip. The palliative reason given to these newly unemployed by founder Steven Schonfeld: it is all the fault of "black boxes, stat arb and high frequency trading." Welcome to the new paradigm - you are now all redundant. Only robots are allowed to trade with robots. But. But. We thought they only provide liquidity (er, viscocity - the specific gravity of motor oil is 0.8). Full letter below.
‘On December 5, 1988 we started Schonfeld Securities. Very soon after, we started hiring prop traders, and many years later formed “Opus Trading Fund”.
Prop trading has always been and will always be an extremely important part of our business and certainly the one that is closest to our hearts. The best Schonfeld traders will always have a place to trade and the capital to maximize their earnings potential. We are committed to them and will always strive to provide an environment for them to succeed. Sadly, however, we are re-thinking the notion that less skilled and less successful traders can be here forever without producing sufficiently for themselves and the firm.
For over 21 years we have always done everything we could, with the traders' best interests in mind, to provide careers and opportunities for our traders.
We have always cared more than you could imagine for your careers, happiness, well being and future.
We truly admired many of your passions for trading and for the markets. Over the years we have stood by you and you have stood by us as well. There has been real loyalty on both ends and don’t ever think we took your loyalty for granted for one second.
Bull and bear markets come and go. Good trading markets come and go. But unfortunately, our vision of the future of trading has changed. It is getting much tougher for traders to make a living or get by. The direct competition from black boxes, stat arb and high frequency trading which continues to grow at exponential rates is here to stay and has caused us to change our outlook for lesser skilled traders.
Based on the above competitive changes to the trading arena, we feel we are doing an injustice to both our lesser skilled traders and the firm by keeping them around. At best, they will barely get by and that’s not why we are in his business or what they should be here for.
Unfortunately the career of trading is not a good option for lesser skilled traders going forward. We will be letting go many of these traders over the next 6-12 months. It is with deep regret and the hardest thing we have had to do since the inception of the firm in 1988. It truly saddens us to do this, but we are doing the traders who will not be making a living going forward a favor, so they can venture into different careers.
It is even more painful since many of you have been so loyal and really good guys.
To those of you that we ultimately let go, we deeply apologize but whether you understand it immediately or not, it truly is best for you.
After discussions with the managers and exhaustive quantitative research our objective will be to reduce the number of traders we have down to those that we believe will make a great or very good living trading for years and years to come with the necessary skills needed.
The traders who are newer to trading will be given some extra time to potentially have their skills stand out. The days of a trader making a living by generating $50k to $75k of adjusted gross annually are over. There is room for only highly motivated, skilled and developing traders that can add value to each other and the firm.
Once again, we wish it was different and are extremely sorry for those that don’t make it.