New Turtle Traders assessment day

If you’ve a passing interested in the markets, I’m sure you’ve heard about Richard Dennis and the Turtle Traders in the 1980s. In a nutshell, he wanted to to prove that trading can be taught so he picked a couple of apprentices and trained them. Richard Dennis proved to be correct, it is possible to teach trading and be successful at it.

Well, Mike Baghdady from Training Traders wanted to repeat this feat and in November he set up with a view to repeating the task. He invited people who were interested to send along their CV and ended up creating a little media storm profiling in the financial journals and on TV. They ended up extending their deadline for another month and were inundated with applicants. In total over 7000 people applied for just 10 places.

I was one of those who had applied and last week I got called up to attend their assessment day. This was held in their offices near Aldgate. The facilities were not as impressive as those seen on their website..  it is a shared office facility I shared the lift with 2 others (it could only fit 3 people!)

Anyway, on entering the Training Traders offices, we were greeted by the desk and the first question I was asked was “Are you left-handed?”…. was this the first test? I am left-handed so it was a “yes” and the response was “ok, you need to sit at the back and along the edge”. I promptly entered the room where there were about 20 people and around another 20 empty seats. A horseshoe arrangement of desks formed ‘the back and along the edge seating’ and inside the horseshoe, probably around 20 single seater chairs with the fold down table. Bloomberg TV was displayed on the projected screen and the American newsreporter was the only noise for 20 minutes or so as everyone sat in silence waiting for the show to begin!

I thought about the left-handed thing, were they going to discard the right-handed people who were sitting in the middle and take just the left-handers? Or the other way round? You never know with these selection assessments, anything can happen!

I looked around the room. Mostly male, I counted 3 females and sitting next to me on my left was a little fellow looking around 5 years of age. His father sat next to him, ‘translating/simplifying’ what was being talked about on the Bloomberg news.

15 minutes late the ‘show’ started…sorry, I’m a real stickler for time, we were greeted by the an older gentlemen. I can’t remember his name but he is the COO of Training Traders. There was a brief introduction where he acknowledge the little kid (who was 9, not 5 as I had thought but then again, I’m not a father!) and explained the left-handed thing. Basically they realise that the single seated chair with the folded table were all right-handed and therefore they had to seat left-handers on the desks along the outside… hmm, that was a bit of a downer answer even if they had got rid of all the left-handers.

Ok, they also talked about the test and that it was to be shrouded in secrecy so that everyone who applied would have an equal chance. This is the bit where I feel a bit apprehensive as to how much I write…  I agree that it needs to be fair but at the same time, it would be interesting to write about.. perhaps I’ll just give a little away! 🙂

So they gave us 2 hours to do this test. A couple pages of multiple choice and then some write-in-the-box questions. I think it was more of a personality test with some trading adages..  quite a lot you can read in the Zurich Axioms by Max Gunther and can get from Amazon:


Shit, I may have said too much! Oh nevermind!

The written answers were quite random also… a couple were “Do you want to be famous?” “What super hero would you like to be?”

The little kid next to me kept on asking his dad and his dad kept on saying “Just put down whatever you think!” which gives you an indication of his parenting style!

I finished the test in about 30 minutes and was the 3rd person to finish. As I walked out I asked for a cup of water and was lead to the kitchen by one of the Training Traders employees. “Ah ha, I can get some information out of him now” I thought! So I asked my questions and here is what I learnt:

  • Training Traders are looking for a real mix of people. He said that as a female you have a much larger chance of getting through considering the applications were 1 woman to every 10 men – however, I’m not a woman so that didn’t help me!
  • By just turning up for the assessment, you’ve already doubled your chances – 50% of those who were asked to come back didn’t even bother or read their email.
  • Even if you don’t get through and you really want to be a trader, you can! You just have to pay for it but it’ll be the same course.

In summary, I think it was a brilliant marketing play by Training Traders. They got a huge amount of coverage from the media. Even if none of their apprentices make it and they lose all that money, I’m sure they will do really well from those paying to do the courses themselves. Heck, if I don’t make it in, I may even pay to go myself!

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Category: Make Me Some Money Ideas, Trading