Arunkeshav Sridhar- Quantitative Trader at Cutler Group

  1. A bit about yourself

I graduated as a Aerospace engineer from IIT Madras in the year 2017 and I joined Goldman Sachs as a quantitative analyst. After working there for one year, I went to pursue MS in Computational Finance. Currently, I am working as a Quantitative Trader at Cutler Group San Francisco.

2. How you decided to be a quantitative trader?

My work profile at GS was similar to that of a quantitative analyst; the tasks involved programming models, working on backend strategy, but the market-facing elements were missing. I wasn’t involved in tasks such as deciding which strategies to use for which situation, interpreting the market signals and deciding accordingly. At that point, I felt that the role where I could use my technical skills as an engineer and the new skills as a market researcher would be an ideal role for me.

I learnt about quantitative finance, but I wanted to learn more so that I could take up a more risk-taking and autonomous role.

3. What were the factors, according to you, that contributed to your selection at some of the most excellent universities?

In my opinion, some of the significant factors that would have contributed to the selection were a Good GPA, work experience at Goldman Sachs and third, I would say, was the interview, face to face one held at Mumbai, where I was able to convey my experiences at Goldman Sachs fluidly. 

“A strong math background and strong professional affiliation would be really helpful.”

4. Why did you choose Carnegie Mellon over MIT?

Master of Science in Computation Finance at Carnegie Mellon is a very microfocus course on quantitative finance as opposed to a more general one at MIT, and I realised that in US job markets, the specialist does have the edge over the generalist so I made my decision accordingly.

5. How are the US universities different from IIT?

Academics are taken very seriously at US universities. Academic rigour is definitely more intense. You have students, especially in the master’s degree, who are much more committed, so to have a good class performance, you need to work every day. 

6. What were the job roles available to you after your masters in quantitative finance?

The job opportunities that will open up would be of a quantitative trader where you apply your quant and maths skills and apply that on a large financial dataset. So, think of it as a data scientist working in finance, understanding the financial data both qualitatively and quantitatively.

7. How is a regular day in the life of a quantitative trader?

As a quantitative trader, your work involves managing risks; you manage the parameters an automated trading system uses. As the trading is in progress, I monitor where the risk is moving, where the trade flow is, and alter the trading parameters for optimal trading. Once the market closes, I analyse the day’s performance and, keeping the trading strategy in mind, further finetune the elements and make the strategy more robust.

8. What are the essential skills that a quantitative trader must possess?

The job involves dealing with a lot of data, so you need to be good with data science and its tools, you need to be good with statistics and probability, and the concepts of game theory and market dynamics are a must-have. So, together all these skillsets will make an excellent quantitative trader.

9. What are your plans?

I would like to have exposure to the trading of different financial products, such as ETFs and other related products. I will also like to explore more avenues in trading, learn various methods etc. All in all, explore the quantitative trading domain more thoroughly.

10. What will be one piece of advice that you would like to give to IIT students?

I want to convey that the quantitative trading jobs are very much suited for the IITians. It involves a lot of maths, a lot of data science and finance. 

My first advice would be to start getting exposure to finance, start following indices and start following financial news. My second piece of advice would be to get an intern at a finance firm. The third piece of advice would be to decide what you really like. There are multiple career paths in finance; pick one and then try to specialise in it. 

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