Head Trader

DEFINITION of 'Head Trader'

The manager of a trading business. He or she is responsible for the positions, risk and ultimate profitability of that business. In a registered securities firm, the head trader supervises all traders and other personnel within his or her purview. Most notably, the head trader is charged with insuring regulatory and internal compliance for every employee who is part of the trading operation (i.e., not just traders).


Any head trader in a securities operation with supervisory and/or approval responsibilities must be a registered principal, meaning they must hold all the basic securities licenses and possess one of the following: a series 4, 9, 10, 23, 24, 51 and/or 53 license. The exact principal exams required depend on the scope of the head trader's responsibilities. In smaller firms, there may only be one or two head traders, but in large firms there are frequently many head traders, each in charge of a specific market. The head trader for municipal securities, for example, would have, at a minimum, a series 53 license. Different licenses apply for futures and commodities trading operations. A registered options principal, for example, will hold a series 4 license.

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