What Makes a Trading Desk?

Trading is a stressful job since there is always the possibility of making a wrong decision and losing your investment. Unlike their portrayal in movies, much of a trader’s time is spent in front of their computers, watching the markets move.  Most desks can handle a monitor or two, but traders need to monitor several activities at the same time. 

Therefore a trading desk will often have three, four or more monitors. Additionally, traders will also want ergonomic features to counter the effects of stress from their trades. So, what are the essential elements of professional trading desks, and how do they differ from standard office furniture?

Trading Desk Setup

What are the elements required to setup up a traders’ desk?

Engaging in trades is stressful, so trading desks are designed foremost with function and ergonomics while keeping aesthetics in mind. 

  • Electric Height Adjustable Desk: Standing desks are a norm in today’s trading floor workplaces. Many trading floors utilize sit-to-stand trading desks, allowing individuals to stand or walk around while performing their functions. This type of mobility alleviates physical and mental stress while increasing work performance. If implemented regularly, the benefits include a more focused/productive workforce, a lower risk of cardiovascular issues, and weight loss. Courtesy of LaCour
  • Programmable Keypad: The electric height adjustable feature in trading desks also includes a preset memory to store the preferred height settings of users. Users can easily program their preferred height of the workstation using the controller. The keypad is either seamlessly integrated into the work surface or attached under the desk.
  • Monitor Arms: Traders need different monitor configurations on their trading desk. Whereas conventional office desks often only require one or two monitors, Traders typically have four or more. Specialized Trading Desk manufacturers can recommend and include these with the trading desks to ensure that the product meets its client needs. Adjustable desks with multiple monitor arms require easy adjustability to fit the user’s viewing angle. Another critical element is the workstation’s ability to hold the screens without tilting/breaking and injuring someone. Monitor arms for four, six, or eight monitors are considerably heavier and require a firm connection to a solid foundation.Courtesy of SBFI Financial
  • Desk Cable Management: Often a forgotten point, when traders use five or more monitors, the cables can quickly become messy under the desk. Seeing wires on the floor or behind the desk does not create a stress-free work environment. Therefore, professional trading desks include cable chains to manage power and data cables used by the workstation. Due to the power requirements when using multiple screens, many workstations are equipped with industrial power bars to support the devices.
  • Secured Enclosures & Active Thermostatic Fans: Day trading traditionally requires numerous programs requiring vast computing power. As such, trading desks utilize sophisticated cooling systems, such as low noise active fans or water cooling to help dissipate the heat generated by the processors. Traditionally, everything is within CPU enclosures that are secured to protect the company’s sensitive data. Recent advancements in cloud and central computing are changing the need for each desk to have its own computer. This has led to smaller, lighter desks.

Trading Desk Trends

Coutesy of Technology Desking

  • Smaller & Lighter Trading Desks: Trading desks have become far less cluttered in recent years due to increasing computer power in smaller housings. In addition, network computers have reduced in size considerably, and some are even located remotely. This change has made the need for CPU enclosures almost obsolete, resulting in a workplace design that is more streamlined and open look on the trading floor. 
  • Improved Sightlines: Sightlines are very important, and workspace arrangements need to ensure traders and brokers have the best access to the latest information and managers to see and hear what is happening. Trading desks and their monitors have a variety of ways to connect and position to keep sightlines open.
  • Hot-Swapping of Technology: Technology usually becomes obsolete far more quickly than physical furniture. Therefore, the design of trading desk furniture enables swapping of computers and display screens rapidly with as minimal disruption to daily activities as possible. Another advantage is the stations’ ability to grow if it is ever required to add more monitors in the future. Sustema 4 trading desk hot-swapping

What Makes Trading Desks Special?

It’s common to wonder about the difference between professional trading desks and conventional office furniture, especially when looking at the price. The key differentiators are in the following elements: customization, quality, and ergonomics.

  • Customization: Unlike standard office furniture with limited customization, the design of trading desks is specific to the customers’ particular needs, such as the number of screens needed, dimensions & room layout, colors & aesthetics, and maintenance services after the sale. Therefore, trading desks vendors spend significant time with the client understanding their needs and monitor every step of the trading desk manufacturing process, including designing, manufacturing, and installing the workstations. 
  • Quality: Because of the customization and costs, clients (investment firms, banks, insurance companies) want to ensure that trading desks are a 10+ year investment decision. Therefore, the quality of materials is essential. Material choices include using a metallic or aluminum structure rather than wood, producing custom-shaped parts rather than in bulk, and buying top-of-the-line electronics for the Smart Technologies integrated into the station.
  • Ergonomics: It is at this stage where trading desks demonstrate the most value compared to conventional furniture. For example, integrating electric height adjustable surfaces for a sit or stand work position, modular monitor arms capable of holding 8+ LCD screens, urethane surface edges for a more comfortable position when typing, and cable management for a clutter-free work environment.

Command Centers & Control Room Desks

A wide range of industries, including transportation, broadcast, security, surveillance, energy, and many more, require desks with multiple monitors.  The same technologies that are used in our Trading desks can be implemented in larger benches to create command centers.