Until they join the IMC team, people are often unaware of the many ways they can make a meaningful contribution to trading. While it’s a quantitative discipline, people with very different backgrounds and skillsets can succeed.
For this blog series, we spoke to six IMC traders who contribute to the team in different ways. In Part one (of four), meet Hans and Yoann:
As a student, Hans didn’t know what career path to follow after college. He knew he was good with numbers and loved the challenge of improving with every assignment, but a career choice remained elusive. It wasn’t until one day, watching a documentary on trading, that he saw a future that would come to fit him perfectly.
“I knew nothing about trading, but the competitiveness, the need to constantly improve, working with numbers and data… it sounded extremely appealing to me,” Hans says. Over time, he discovered that what really excited him was the fast-paced, real-time interaction with the market.
“The coolest thing is you can have a global impact because the trading model is used worldwide,” he says. “We’re extremely competitive and it’s nice to be able to quantify the improvements you make to your approach. You’re able to say, ‘I had a good idea, I got it in production, and now I see how we are doing better on those types of trades.’ You see how you’ve made a difference.”
But that confidence doesn’t come immediately. For a graduate trader, it can be difficult to know where to focus your ambition. Yoann started his career at IMC as a trader intern focusing on more quantitative projects, doing analysis and observing his mentors as they created algorithms and adjusted strategies. When he expressed an interest in more real-time market interaction, his move was facilitated by his IMC mentors.
When it comes to a graduate’s experience and preparation, he says that while it can be useful to have some prior knowledge of programming (because of how closely traders work with developers) the most valuable things a new grad can bring are enthusiasm for the industry, eagerness to learn and improve, and a competitive spirit.
“Competition is effective. It makes you work harder. You want to be the first in any ranking, and while some markets die because people aren’t interested in them anymore, you can always find new challenges and new possibilities elsewhere,” Yoann says.
In fact, competition is the basis for our industry’s evolution. Asked how they envisage technology impacting the future of trading, both Hans and Yoann foresee a bigger role for machine learning in the optimization of automated algorithms. As those technologies evolve, they will remove the need for people to search manually for anomalies or ‘bad trade’ results in the data of each day’s thousands of trades. Hans explains the competitive edge a trading firm could achieve if AI automatically found those patterns before traders could observe them themselves.
“We could benefit from advanced machine learning in the future. There are always new challenges coming because we have smart competitors. We have to make sure we’re improving our systems to stay in front. Also, if trading evolves in this direction, the role of the human trader becomes even more vital. Only a strong trader who has had a lot of direct, practical experience will fully understand the market and the risks of the products he is trading. This is essential in defining the constraints and inputs for the models as well as validating any suggested outputs.”
In the meantime, though, our teams continue to explore ways to analyze data, improve their strategies and grow their competencies as leading IMC traders. As Yoann puts it, “There’s nothing like the level of trust and responsibility IMC gives me. So far, I’m happy to live up to it and keep learning it every day.”
Explore current opportunities for interns and graduate traders and for the second installment of our four-part trader series, we spoke to Mahmoud, an accomplished broker trader based in IMC Amsterdam. Read Part 2 now.