Last time we spoke to Optiver, the Dutch proprietary trading company and derivatives market maker said it was hiring around 50 people in London. 16 months later, that hiring is done and Optiver is recruiting again. After moving into a new office, it wants to add another 25 people this year and and up to 25 people next year. It has room for another 50 after that.
"London is increasingly central to our growth plans," says Optiver's London CEO, John Rothstein. It's been investing accordingly; the firm's new and expanding office at 20 Old Bailey has bespoke leather furniture, and earth elements including moss walls, hanging plants and timber cladding.
Recent history suggests Optiver likes to hire from banks and from rival market making firms. Olivier Degoy, an institutional trader, joined from Vantage Capital Markets in March. Harry Forty, a junior data scientist, joined from Lloyds in January. Previous recruits have come from Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas.
Optiver pays well. In 2020, the last year for which figures are available, the 20 people in its London office were paid a total of £16m, or an average of around £800k ($1m) each.
Having recently signed-up a campus recruiter who previously worked for Morgan Stanley, Optiver also hires quantitative graduates into its expanding London office. Its current trainees attended the likes of both Oxford University and Imperial College. Optiver pays these London graduates a total package (salary plus bonus) of £200k ($250k).
As the Dutch market maker expands, it stands to help drive up compensation still further. It's not the only electronic market maker chasing talent in the City: Citadel Securities, Jane Street, Maven Securities, Mako and Dutch rivals like Flow Traders and IMC Financial Markets are hiring too. Jane Street recently hiked junior salaries alone to $275k. One senior developer tells us he's been encountering candidates in their early '20s with three offers for jobs paying $500k to code low latency systems in London.
Richard Booty, managing partner at recruitment firm Testwood Partners, tells us that competition for junior quantitative trading staff in London has risen to the point where all firms are shifting their attention to hiring students. "It's really hard to hire an experienced quant with two to five years' experience in London, and the compensation required to attract them is making it uneconomical. There's therefore been a refocus on recruiting people from universities instead."
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