From Woking to Wall Street: UK day traders dream of glory in daily grind

Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:31pm EDT
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By Sudip Kar-Gupta

WOKING, Britain (Reuters) - The British trader accused of sparking market chaos in 2010 cut his teeth in a drab building in a sleepy suburb that highlights how "day traders" dreaming of glory have to first tackle grim offices, zero glamour and high risk.

The building is home to Futex, one of several so-called "trading farms" in the UK that give training, office space and equipment to people prepared to make short-term trades, mostly within a day, with their own money in the hope of being hired or sponsored for a cut of their profits.

Navinder Singh Sarao - who has been accused by U.S. authorities of contributing to the May 2010 "flash crash" in Wall Street - worked there between early 2003 and early 2008, according to a statement by Futex on Friday.

"(Sarao) sat in a separate part of the company, away from the rowdy bunch," said Simon Maelzer, who worked at Futex for a few months in 2008. "He created his own space on the trading floor. I always noticed this guy, who was completely 'in the zone'."

Sarao has been charged by U.S. authorities in a criminal and civil case with fraud and market manipulation; he is currently in jail in the UK. Authorities in the United States have sought to link him to the May 6, 2010 'flash crash,' where the U.S. stock market temporarily lost $1 trillion in market value in a matter of minutes.

Maelzer, now a global macro strategist for research firm, said that while Futex was a good company, those who joined were in for a hard ride at the start.

"The Futex set-up was tough for beginners and many would get despondent and give up, although this is typical of the futures market in general. I didn't even get a salary at all," he said.

The Futex traders - mainly men aged 25 to 35 - would make the daily commuter grind from London to Woking, around 23 miles (37 km) to the southwest, bringing their own laptops and software program, and then take on the markets in the spartan Futex office, said Maelzer.   Continued...

The sun sets on the address where Nav Sarao Futures Limited is registered, in Hounslow, London April 21, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall