What's your job about?
IMC is predominantly an algorithmic trading firm with the core of the business focussing on Options, Structured Products and Delta 1 securities including ETFs, futures and rolls. My role at IMC is a value-based market-making (VMM) options trader on the Kospi 200 index with a specific focus on broker trading and relationships. VMM differs from IMCs traditional market-making trading whereby we hold larger risk for longer periods of time with an opinion on the price.
A typical day begins with the Macro News Analysts highlighting the key news stories overnight that may influence our trading for the day. Recently this has included discussing US bonds and rates, inflation, semiconductor headlines and the banking crisis. Trading starts one hour after the meeting and the market is open for just under 7 hours. If trading is busy either due to overnight news or market flow, my focus for the day will be adjusting our pricing to execute in and out of trades. Brokers are also very important in VMM trading where banks or other counterparties will request prices on certain structures that trade in larger sizes, and more illiquid expiries than on screen. A large part of my role is trading and building relationships with these brokers and working prices to get the best levels for our position. On days when the market is quiet, I spend time on projects. Once the market closes, as a team we wrap up how the day went and focus on any improvements we can make.
What's your background?
I grew up In Hamilton, New Zealand and went on to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Canterbury, where I graduated in 2018. I always enjoyed maths and sciences at school but honestly didn’t have a clear direction on what I was going to study at university before I had to apply. Engineering appealed to me because the degree combined science and a design aspect that I had always been drawn to, as well as, the more analytical side of engineering.
I got into trading in a similar manner to how I got into engineering—by knowing what I didn't want to do. My work experience throughout my degree was unstimulating and I was looking for something different when I discovered trading through a presentation at my university. After university, I got a job as a graduate at a trading firm, before moving to IMC where I have been for 1.5 years.
I have also had the opportunity to solo travel Australia, managing to dodge covid lockdowns. This was amazing for my mental health and really helped put what I wanted to achieve in my career into perspective.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Trading isn’t specific to any one degree. Anyone with a strong understanding of maths and a diligent problem solver is capable of being a trader. IMC caters to lots of different personalities and skill sets. Strong algorithmic and technical skills are valuable in market making or research whereas resilience and bigger picture understanding are essential in VMM.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The best thing about trading is working in a fast-paced, challenging environment where every day can bring a new challenge. IMC, despite being externally competitive, is internally collaborative so any achievements or losses are shared between everyone. The flat structure at IMC also means a great idea can come from a 6-month grad or a 5-year trader. We all have a strong work ethic but keep work entertaining.
What are the limitations of your job?
Position-taking trading can be stressful and a large part of the job is learning how to manage that. Additionally, sometimes ideas that take a decent amount of time to be dedicated don’t work out or the idea may not be viable due to the time may take to execute.
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