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The difference between engineers at Citadel Securities and Citadel

Citadel and Citadel Securities are sister companies with very different functions. For prospective engineers weighing up the two, the distinctions can be unclear. 

Citadel and Citadel Securities, what's the difference? 

“Citadel is an asset management firm. It invests on behalf of endowments, pension funds, and other institutions, and it works to generate superior returns for them," says Matt Mitro, the head of graduate recruitment for both firms. "Citadel Securities is a market maker and trading firm. It deploys advanced analytics, technology and trading expertise to provide liquidity, help investors to access the market and get the best execution possible on the transactions they’d like to make.”  

Engineering jobs at Citadel: Driven by investing

Citadel is a multi strategy hedge fund. At Citadel, engineers' daily functions are largely dependent on the needs and wants of the analysts, traders and portfolio managers who, as one source states, “drive everything”. You are likely to have a lot of interaction with them. The work you will do will focus on systems that facilitate investment decisions. 

Mandy Ziffer, head of campus engineering recruitment at Citadel and Citadel Securities, says, "Engineers at Citadel create tools and analytics that underpin the firm's investment process." Citadel's engineering jobs state that its developers work on both, "the developer ecosystem" and to support, "investment professionals."

The latter is a source of pride for some engineers at the firm. In a YouTube video made by Citadel itself last year, engineers there said they took pride in doing work that "directly impacts the investment process" and said it was great to have the "opportunity to sit down with" colleagues "and tap into the vast knowledge that they have about their particular area." As a quant dev in particular, you can get heavily involved in generating alpha. 

The downside, however, is that if you're working on a project that the portfolio managers and traders don't support, you won't get it signed off. This can be frustrating, says one Citadel developer. 

Your autonomy and ability to work on interesting projects will depend upon your manager. Managers tend to be committed to Citadel or to come and go. The developer we spoke to claims he worked with managers or had been with firm for, “less than two years or much more than five years" and that there were few in the middle.

Citadel Securities: All about the tech

While Citadel is a hedge fund where analysts and portfolio managers reign supreme, Citadel Securities is more about technology. Of the two firms, hardcore engineers tend to prefer Citadel Securities for this reason. Comments on forum website Blind suggest that of the two firms Citadel Sec is better for tech and has a better code base.

Engineers at Citadel are all about tools to facilitate investment decisions, but people at Citadel securities are all about systems: they are creating the foundational structure for the whole firm. Ziffer says: "Engineers at Citadel Securities build systems that power trading globally."  

Citadel Securities CTO Josh Woods says Citadel Securities as "a technology company at core." Our day in the life from Geraint Harcombe, who's worked as an engineer there for over two years, supports this. Harcombe says he works on a platform that facilitates, "human and algorithmic trading, strategy research, position and risk management and post-trade reporting," and that he mostly works in Python and C++. When we spoke to him, he was working on a "quoter" that connects to an exchange and places orders according to a given trading strategy. 

An engineering role at Citadel Securities will probably give you more freedom than at Citadel but it can be a double-edged sword. Glassdoor reviews praise the “independent” nature of developer roles at Citadel Securities and “ability to form a role around your skills.” However, Blind reviews acknowledge this with the caveat that “your success is yours and yours alone to cultivate,” while warning not to get “siloed”

Citadel and Citadel Securities, what's the same? 

For all their differences, however, there's also much about Citadel and Citadel Securities that's the same. At both firms, for example, engineers work in small teams to deliver cutting-edge solutions to complex problems. At both firms, the markets provide real-time feedback. And at both firms, short release cycles spur continual refinement and allow engineers to see the immediate impact on the business.

“We like to think that people choose to come to us because of the very applied nature of what we do," says Mitro. "– You can design an algorithm, put it into production, and see whether it works or doesn’t work very quickly.”

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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