Monday, 25 April 2016

The skill of New York

01:07 Posted by The Thalesians (@thalesians) No comments

Buildings race with one another, aiming to touch the sky. Joggers throng the park, the feet tapping down one after the other. Spring blossoms, the park lives once more. Horns beep, the sounds crisscrossing the grid of streets. Food carts on street corners, with the smell of warm pretzels and kebab in the air. Yellow reflections of taxis sprint along the windows of shops. Ocean waves curl up to spring aboard the shore. Pedestrians walk, a certain purpose appears in their step. This is New York.

What makes New York, this amalgam of people, images and sounds so successful? I'm far from an expert on New York (I've never lived there, although I've visited on numerous occasions and am writing this note from there). Potentially one reason is simply that the city is so varied. There are so many diverse groups of people who live in New York. It is a truly international city. The geography of the city is diverse. Yes, it might be a city which is well known for finance, but it also has other industries supporting the economy, with a strong tech startup scene.

Within a trading environment, it might seem that being good at one thing, namely trading is the way forward. However, trading in itself requires many different skills. If we focus on systematic trading, it cannot simply be defined as a technology problem. Yes, a good systematic trader needs to be able to code. For more complex strategies, such as high frequency trading, the ability to write very fast code becomes paramount. However, approaching it purely as at a technology problem, ignores the fact that trading is about markets, and interacting with markets. In a way, it's like suggesting that if you are very dextrous and have strong hand eye coordination today, you should be able to perform surgery, somehow ignoring, the matter of needing medical knowledge!

Systematic trading needs a diversity of skills. Is having a strong background in coding and markets difficult? Yes it is! Just as New York's success might be explained by its differences, a successful systematic trader needs to have a diversity of skills.

Like my writing? Have a look at my book Trading Thalesians - What the ancient world can teach us about trading today is on Palgrave Macmillan. You can order the book on Amazon. Drop me a message if you're interested in me writing something for you or creating a systematic trading strategy for you! Please also come to our regular finance talks in London, New York, Budapest, Prague, Frankfurt, Zurich & San Francisco - join our group for more details here (Thalesians calendar below)

12 May - New York - Luis Seco - Are Negative Hedge Fund Fees on the Horizon?
13 May - Budapest - Saeed Amen/Paul Bilokon - Thalesians workshop on algo trading at Global Derivatives
20 May - London - Martin Bridson - Knots and what not


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