Chicago best city for traders: survey

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) -Chicago took the top spot in a survey of the best cities for traders for the second year running, with London in second and New York in third place.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is pictured March 17, 2008. Chicago took the top spot in a survey of the best cities for traders for the second year running, with London in second and New York in third place. REUTERS/John Gress

The survey, conducted by Trader Monthly magazine, which is aimed at professional traders and hedge fund managers, ranked 50 cities to find the ultimate place to live and trade.

The survey took into account work and lifestyle factors, from trading infrastructure, taxes and time zone, to weather and nightlife.

With the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s (CME) pending merger with NYMEX, the Windy City will be the geographic center of the commodities and derivatives universe, the magazine said, adding that Chicago easily beat London and New York on real estate prices and taxes.

“In Chicago, trading isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle,” said Chicago-based hedge fund manager Jonathan Hoenig, who started out as a clerk at the CME.

“For the better part of 150 years there have been bands of colorfully jacketed young men roaming the Loop with cigarettes, trading cards and a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times,” he said in an interview.

Hoenig said that while floor trading may have dried up, dozens of small funds, partnerships and investment shops have sprouted up around LaSalle Street.

His favorite part of Chicago lifestyle? Celebrating a good day on the markets in a boat on Lake Michigan. He also prefers not having to fight for a cab, a dinner reservation or an apartment, as is the norm in most other financial centers. Hoenig has only ever worked in Chicago, and said he wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

Taxes and sky-high real estate prices were the only things keeping London out of the top spot, Trader Monthly said.

Lane Clark, a trader at London-based investment boutique Beta 2 Ltd said the time zone benefits, which make it easy to trade with markets around the world, make it impossible for him to consider trading anywhere else.

“In an ideal world, would I rather be sitting on the beach in Dubai trading on my laptop? Hell yeah, I would. But I’d miss the buzz of London and the trading action too much,” Clark said.

The cost of living and mediocre weather came with the territory in London, he added.

New York also suffered from a one-two punch of high taxes and real estate prices, and Scott Redler, a trader at T3 Live in Manhattan said he could understand why some people might choose to trade elsewhere.

“You don’t need a seat on the New York Stock Exchange anymore to be competitive, so it makes sense some people would move somewhere that’s cheaper and less stressful. But I find being surrounded by lots of ambitious type-A personalities motivational.”

Would he consider moving to Chicago? “No, it’s windy and cold!” he said. “And once you’ve lived in New York, nowhere else really measures up.”

Paris jumped into the top ten, as recent tax reforms introduced by President Nicolas Sarkozy have made the city more attractive to hedge funds, the magazine said.

Reporting by Kristina Cooke; editing by Patricia Reaney