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GOLD BOOK 2012: Heavy Focus on Algorithms, Less Cloud Technology Exploration

Despite the challenges buy-side traders face, this year's group of Quant Gold Book honorees have the drive and intelligence to reach their targets.

Even though the capital markets have taken a hit in reputation, public standing and profits, there still is great enthusiasm among the men and women who trade every day. And it's not just for the promise of bonuses -- the buy-side traders Advanced Trading profiled for this year's Quant Gold Book clearly love what they do.

For 2012, we looked for the best and brightest head traders inside growing investment firms; two honorees this year hail from virtual start-ups, while the other two have been trading for established asset managers for years. Whether they are beginners or veterans, though, one thing is clear about the 2012 Quant Gold Book honorees: Despite the challenges buy-side traders face, they have the drive and intelligence to reach their targets.  

This year, Advanced Trading is fortunate to profile Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading for RBC Global Asset Management; Douglas Dixon, principal of AJO Partners in Philadelphia; Youngju Nielsen, co-founder of Jersey City, N.J.-based Quantavium Capital; and David Allen, head of business development for EDAC Trading in Palm Beach, Fla. They manage funds that range from a modest $50 million to an impressive $260 billion in assets under management. And while each trades hands-on every day, they all understand how technology can get the job done. Given the tight IT budgets on the buy side, however, we were not surprised to find that our top traders are spending more time sharpening their algos than exploring disruptive technologies such as cloud computing.

Meanwhile, despite the bad news from Europe and the depressing job numbers in the U.S., our 2012 Gold Book honorees remain optimistic. There is money to be made in these markets, both here and abroad. AJO's Dixon, for example, reports that even as his firm concentrates on Asia and Latin America, it will not bypass Europe, despite its endless parade of troubles; even with the expected volatility that likely will accompany any news from across the Atlantic, there is golden opportunity in those stormy seas.

Along with a keen business sense, the ability to optimize algorithms and steely nerves, perhaps the one thing that sets apart the top buy-side traders is something you cannot buy, rent or even learn: It's perseverance. And the 2012 Gold Book honorees have that in spades. >>

Phil Albinus is the former editor-in-chief of Advanced Trading. He has nearly two decades of journalism experience and has been covering financial technology and regulation for nine years. Before joining Advanced Trading, he served as editor of Waters, a monthly trade journal ... View Full Bio

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