Still a lucrative field?

Hi All,

I recently found this site and have looked at a few threads here as well as on a few other quant sites. I have a simple, but probably very controversial, question. Is trading today still a very lucrative field?

Before just posting that, let me give a little bit of my background. I'm a 25 year old guy who worked a short stint in IT and then moved to NYC on a gamble for a job and a hopefully better and more exciting future. I met a silver trader who worked on the NYMEX floor, landed an unpaid internship with a backing company there, worked my way into fixing computers and writing programs for traders and brokerages on the trading floor and all throughout the building.
I wanted to get into trading really bad after getting in there. I knew nothing about trading until I started working there and I felt like I had a big knowledge gap between taking what I knew in tech and applying it to the industry. Finally, after 6-7 months, I was offered a job to clerk for a trader in crude and nat gas options. Recently after another 9 months, I got into solely doing trading now for the group.
I'm fascinated by the markets and I enjoy what I'm doing right now even though I don't make a lot of money doing it. I'm still currently working on systems from ideas of my own and from books and research papers I read.
Of course being on the trading floor, I hear all the moaning and groaning about the business is dead, blah blah, but I started hearing it more from other sides of the business as well. Brokers with big customers that closed up shop, people like GETCO and DE Shaw going downhill (DE Shaw also just got rid of its energy desk, too, here in the past month or so), etc. I also have a friend who works for a big trading arm of a refiner; guy has a master's degree in math and he also says the big money in trading is done. My group also doesn't make tons of money but they get by.
The real thing that really prompted me to post this thread was something that happened yesterday. I met a guy who has a double degree in math and physics from MIT that worked for a small group like mine for years and recently was laid off. He also said that it's not a lucrative field anymore and you really, REALLY, have to have something unique to make money now. Everybody's doing the same thing was his argument, basically.

What are your opinions? I know there's people who still make money out there, no doubt. But that's not what I'm asking. What I'm asking is, is trading a gold mine of any sort anymore (i.e. can you really make big, BIG money doing this anymore when you don't consider those who may be outliers) I'm talking about making millions, not just a salary working for a bank with a bonus. Now I'm not saying do all good quants make millions upon millions of dollars, but rather is this field really competitive compared to being a doctor or lawyer. I'm not thinking of going into either of those fields but just throwing it out there as a benchmark. Are there more than just a small number of guys out there pumping out close to million dollar paychecks a year from winning systems consistently...I guess that's a better way to put it. That may sound like a ridiculous question, but from how this field was a decade ago (and the people I work with that made their money years ago), making a million dollars back then was far from being a ridiculous question.

I hope this doesn't come off as a stupid post, but I felt the only way to ask was to......just ask.

I appreciate any input.

Thanks
 
Do you think anyone making millions will respond? And anyone else will just be speculating really. I'm not trying to be facetious, just brutally honest. Nobody who can answer that question with true first hand experience will. The most senior traders that frequent this site are associates, who really cap out at $200k. Million dollar traders don't hang here.
 
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Do you think anyone making millions will respond? And anyone else will just be speculating really. I'm not trying to be facetious, just brutally honest. Nobody who can answer that question with true first hand experience will. The most senior traders that frequent this site are associates, who really cap out at $200k. Million dollar traders don't hang here.

Not that those making that kind of money will directly respond on here, but I thought maybe people on here who work in the field may know of people who do.
 
its true. computers are so fast now, wiping out arbitrages, resulting in low spreads, highly efficient markets and lower profits. speed is everything now.

I know of people making millions through writing options, and after a structural break hits, I heard some of them went bankrupt the next day.

In the US, writing software is a pretty stable job.
 
Leverage is, and has always been acknowledged to be, deadly, when things turn against you. Home loans, options, CFDs, ... if you go picking up pennies in front of steamrollers, as the saying goes, you eventually get squashed.
 
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