Guitarist, Entrepreneur, and now an Algo Trader | Akshat's story

9 min read

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” - Benjamin Franklin

Did you know, that Music, Trading, and Algorithms can be a perfect match?

From being an Economics graduate, a lead Guitarist, and now an Algo Trader certified by EPAT, we introduce you to the Certificate of Excellence holder, EPATian, Akshat Rohatgi.

Co-founder of called ‘FinZ Capital’, Akshat holds multiple certificates and licenses such as the Youngest CFTe Charter holder in the world, Chartered Market Technician (CMT - Level I, II, & III), CAIA L1, CAIAA Gateway Scholar, Economics (Hons), Trader, a Certified Alternative Investment Manager (CAIM) and last but not the least a National Silver Medalist in Taekwondo.

He is here to share his learnings from his journey into the world of Algorithmic Trading. This is his success story!

Hi Akshat, tell us about yourself!

Hello! I am Akshat Rohatgi, currently based out of Delhi. I completed my Bachelor's at Delhi University. I am a fintech enthusiast and a Co-founder of a firm called “FinZ Capital”.

Currently, I've been looking for various opportunities in the quantitative trading domain. I try to upskill myself, with one of the most essential skills in quantitative trading, which is coding. Following the EPAT programme I completed a few months ago, I began learning C++, and Python.

I enjoy traveling and discovering uncharted locations. I visited a few locations in Ladakh and Himachal. For the past two to three years, riding bikes has also been one of my passions.

I have been the lead guitarist in a band called Elexron, for the past 10 years. We started as a local band and went on to perform on the prestigious venues of IIT, and won the IIT Patna competition. I was both concentrating on my academics and having the time of my life.

Music started as a hobby when I was in the 7th grade. It turned into a passion and then into a career for about 2 years. Since I'm from a small city, there weren't many opportunities or professionals who could teach me the skills necessary to advance.

However, there are certain certifications in music that you can do such as diplomas. I’m pursuing mine from Trinity College, London. During COVID-19, there weren't many opportunities, so I thought of upskilling myself in this area and took these certifications.

How did you traverse from the field of Arts to Algo Trading?

The greatest inspiration in my life has been my grandfather. I always wanted to go into the finance or commerce field reason being my grandfather was CMA (Cost and Management Accountant), and an Indian Audit and Accounts Service officer. He was also the Director of Finance for Oil India. I’ve learned about trading stocks from him.

I was more inclined towards economics and understanding the vast concept of macroeconomics. Then I pursued a Bachelor’s in Economics at Delhi University.

Due to COVID-19, I completed my bachelor's through online lectures. With that, I invested my time by taking up many courses on macroeconomics and math that would complement the data. Since finance is data-driven, you need to know things like R programming language and data analysis.

To familiarize myself with the facets and components of finance, I participated in numerous workshops and took courses in Python, R, and others like CMT, CFTe, and CAIA.

I read a lot of blogs and books on finance. I came across a book called “More Money Than God”, by Sebastian Mallaby. It was about alternatives and hedge funds.

Going through that, I found a certification called CAIA (Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst). It is basically, the CFA for alternative investments or hedge funds. I found it intriguing and pursued it and have cleared the 1st level in 2021, and have given the second level exam.

Pursuing all these courses made me familiar with the concepts of hedge funds, how they work, and how they are shifting towards more data-driven techniques. That led me to research more about how I should upskill myself in quantitative trading and algorithmic trading.

During my research, I came across a few courses, one of which was EPAT. I read through the reviews and they were very motivating for me. The reason is that EPAT has very experienced faculty members, the institute has a reputation of over 12 years, and I read a few success stories on their website. That is how I got myself into EPAT and Quantitative Trading.

Being a student, how did you learn Algorithmic Trading?

I started trading in 2019 in the 1st year of my bachelor's. My curiosity led me to take up a course in technical analysis that taught real-time technical analysis and how to apply it.

Following that course, I started trading in October 2019 and I earned a good 10% in a month. From that, I have evolved as a trader.

Back then I was very young and a novice trader. I used to read only trading candlestick patterns, but my trading style has evolved over time. I still am a discretionary trader and I use data to power my discretionary decisions and backtest all hypotheses I make.

I wasn’t very proficient with Python, and I’d get stuck sometimes. I try till I perfected my strategies with the help of backtesting. So, I still use my discretion and I still trade manually. There isn't much automation, or any high-frequency trading, since I’m a retail trader and still learning.

I believe my decisions have significantly improved a lot since I've gone through EPAT. I am being able to backtest all those ideas that Nitesh taught us. I have used those extra techniques that I was taught in EPAT. I also use Python a bit. Currently, I am trading equity stocks and index futures, but all those trades are manual as of now.

Algorithmic trading accounts for 70% of all orders or exchange volume to algorithmic trading in the US. And in the future, all decisions will definitely be automatic.

But I also understand the important role a human play in the automation of trading. One has to create those algorithms and frame a hypothesis on which algo will work. So I took both of those things parallelly.

I was aware of the things that I needed to learn. I wanted to have:

  • Knowledge of finance,
  • Macroeconomics,
  • Geopolitics - how geopolitics affects microeconomics,
  • Knowledge and skills to code,
  • The skills to derive data-driven decisions.

That was the primary reason to learn algorithmic trading.

Prior to registering for EPAT, I took a few free courses offered by Quantra, just to get a sense of what would be taught. I also read through a couple of blogs, and success stories. That is how I entered EPAT, and the journey has been great.

I came to know about EPAT through my own research and I talked to a few EPATians. I connected them on LinkedIn, and some of them were CMT Chartered holders. I just had a brief talk with them, and there were only positive reviews. I would also say that EPAT is an economical choice for a student since they can get a “student's discount”.

EPAT is one of the most value-for-money choices if you want to get a course that really helps you practically learn to automate your trades and become a successful algo trader. Just believe in yourself and practice everything.

What was your experience of EPAT like?

The experience has been great. Starting with the faculty members, Dr. E. P. Chan's lectures were AMAZING. His lectures were above and beyond our expectations. The course was well-paced, and we were all equally challenged.

The classes were on weekends, and we were assigned many assignments that always kept us on our toes. The first few weeks of EPAT are theoretical, and then it takes a non-linear approach upside. There is a lot of new information you are getting about the domain, coding, market microstructure, NLP, machine learning, and more.

Everything opens about after the initial 2 months of course. That's when the real challenge begins, which is also essential to keep you engrossed in the course.

I was interested in market microstructure and machine learning. Since I had a background in economics, I had a solid foundation in statistics and econometrics. But even though I didn't come from a technical background, I was aware that these statistics and econometric techniques served as the fundamental building blocks for machine learning. Hence, I always looked forward to the Machine Learning lectures.

Coding was quite challenging initially, but now I trade using Machine Learning algorithms.

Was it challenging learning Algo Trading at the same time as pursuing your education?

I learned EPAT more out of necessity than a challenge. My other certifications, such as CFTe and CAIA, were largely theoretical. The models that are taught can be applied, but we weren't taught the fundamental methodology to do so. They were not as practical as EPAT, in comparison.

Whatever was taught in EPAT, the hypothesis, the framework, or the theoretical concepts, training strategies, and coding were very beneficial in a practical sense. This made it easier for us to comprehend how to use those theories in the real world.

My previous degrees were all theoretical, so I had to teach myself many practical applications. There is no comparison between the coding I learned in my bachelor's degree and EPAT. In my opinion, the most significant difference between EPAT and other certifications is its practicality. For any position in trading or finance, you must possess practical knowledge as well as coding skills. EPAT specifically helps you with both.

Sometimes it was challenging to manage my time. However, what I have accomplished over the past three years is better than what I had anticipated. Managing my time was very difficult at times because I occasionally fell behind schedule for my Chartered exams and because at the same time EPAT lectures were becoming more difficult as new concepts were being introduced.

The alumni cell, placement cell, interacting with EPATians during the lectures, faculty, and the entire experience work together to create a wonderful combination. I think it's a good value for the money. The practical teaching, however, was the best part because it involved hands-on experience in algo trading.

What are your future plans?

I was working on my startup, FinZ Capital. We were working on developing a basket of stocks that can be rebalanced on a regular basis based on quantitative and statistical parameters. However, we were unable to produce the desired results. So I'm now concentrating on my Master’s degree and a few more finance courses.

My long-term goals for the next 10 years include launching my own quantitative or data-driven hedge fund. I wouldn't limit it to hedge funds, but rather to an asset management firm that invests across multiple asset classes over a 10-year period.

I'd also like to gain experience in various finance domains, such as some good investment banks, hedge funds, or private equity funds. As a result, I could gain a diverse range of experiences.

What’s your message to the students who wish to pursue Algo Trading as a career?

The field has got cutthroat competition. So you always have to be on your toes and upskill yourself. If you want to get into HFT, then you need to be very proficient with C++ because it's all about minimizing execution time there.

And if you want to get into medium-frequency, or low-frequency trading firms, or hedge funds that are quantitative or data-driven, then, you definitely should have a very good hands-on experience with Python. Because coding language is very essential there.

In case you get into a difficult situation, you should also have a very logical or good reasoning approach to things. People who are not familiar with statistics or mathematics may find it difficult to get into Algo trading.

However, It is something that can be learned. If you have an interest and are willing to push yourself in the domain, you can do wonders with the help of EPAT. Do your best to learn everything that is being taught and complete your assignments. Additionally, since many of the topics taught are pretty complex, conduct your own research.

What ultimately matters is whether you are passionate about quantitative trading or high-frequency trading. Because these two are technical and competitive to last in the long run.

Lastly, since I have been a practitioner of technical analysis for a long period, I would like to advise that, even after getting a very data-driven edge you should always study history. Because there is a saying in the market that “History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme”.

You can predict future prices or events by studying any type of history, whether it is macroeconomic events, technical analysis, or charts. It has a lot of potential benefits.

That was some solid piece of advice, Akshat. Learning is the key to everything. Thank you for sharing such specifics about your journey and the lessons learned throughout your experiences. We believe that your story is going to inspire not just the students, but also the aspiring and professional traders out there.

We wish you success in all of your future endeavors. And we are confident, that you can surely make your dream come true of starting a high-frequency trading firm very soon.

This algo trading course is an excellent way to begin your career and develop skills for becoming an algorithmic trader. It covers topics such as Statistics & Econometrics, Financial Computing & Technology, and Machine Learning. It provides incredible mentorship through the EPAT programme to prepare you for a career in trading.

Disclaimer: In order to assist individuals who are considering pursuing a career in algorithmic and quantitative trading, this success story has been collated based on the personal experiences of a student or alumni from QuantInsti’s EPAT programme. Success stories are for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to be used for investment purposes. The results achieved post-completion of the EPAT programme may not be uniform for all individuals.

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