MATT Silvester is head of training on the Professional Trader Programme at Schneider Trading Associates. He sees himself as a sergeant-major figure – weeding out the weak and cultivating those who have what it takes to sit at the arcade – a facility that provides support to independent traders.
The initial programme lasts for four weeks, it is full-time and free. Many fail, but for those who make it, a comprehensive three-year post-course coaching and mentoring scheme follows. Competition is tough. Schneider receives around 800 CVs a month, interviews between 150 and 200 in a group format, which includes an aptitude test and suitability interview. Of those invited onto the course, only a couple will remain. Silvester says in the initial stages “people who want to be traders can be spotted very easily.” Although he notes those that aren’t as driven initially often pick up the trading bug in due into course.
Arcade trading won’t suit everyone. Silvester explains that “most are self-employed and the money you pay yourself is what you make.” He doesn’t employ people, he gives them an opportunity to work for themselves. But he will send you packing if you lose too much or break the rules. After all: “If you lose £10,000, you have no downside – I’ll wear the loss.” It comes down to his judgement of who is good and who is not. He describes the opportunity as “a free call” for the trader. For Schneider the training programme is a loss leader – they make money from successful traders who stay on to trade on their arcade.
There is no such thing as a free lunch – Schneider takes a cut from successful traders. “If you are any good and you make £10,000, you can have £7,000 and I’ll have £3,000,” says Silvester. But this is no different from any other trading job. Only St Paul’s current resident Marxists could take exception with this. Silvester acknowledges that the downside of training is time and lost earnings. Many of his prospective traders are just out of university so they rely on their parents. If not, you will need savings. It used to take six months, says Silvester, to determine whether someone had the right skills. However, with current market volatility he says this has stretched out to nearer nine to twelve months.
Economists have a term called opportunity costs, which they use to describe the cost – in money, time and loss of any other pleasure – of undertaking any action. The Schneider Professional Trader Programme provides you with the chance to see if you have what it takes to be a trader with very little cost – you can leave at any time. It’s a potentially beneficial arrangement and even if you fall at the first hurdle, at least you will have tried. If successful, you will be a trader – earning a living by pitting your wits in the world’s markets.