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Journey of an experienced IT sales professional in algorithmic trading with Gilles Laurentin

6 min read

Some years ago, the mention of ‘Trading’, would lead you to imagine people trading in the pits. But today, you can trade by yourself from any part of the world armed with nothing but just a computer and good internet.

Today, there are some remarkable individuals like EPAT alumnus Gilles Laurentin who did a specialization in maths and has an engineering degree. He started his career with engineering, pursued a career in sales and is now also adding to his 20+ year career lifespan doing Algo Trading.

You’ll be able to relate to Gilles’ story if you’re doing a full-time job, and wish to develop your very own trading algorithms that will trade for you automatically, side by side.

We caught up with Gilles to learn about his success story. Here’s how our discussion went.

Hi Gilles, tell us about yourself!

Hi! I am Gilles Laurentin and I'm based out of Paris, France. I am a father of three children and I love spending time with them. I like playing tennis, I like my work, and I love listening to music.

I am currently a sales executive in a big IT company. I provide demos of our financial software that enhances your business forecasting abilities.

Before COVID-19 hit, I’d travel a lot sometimes across France, around Europe to meet our clients. With the pandemic now, adapting to the situation - all is done through video conferencing. You're just at home, you can’t commute or do anything besides walking around the house. Although the Pandemic occurred abruptly, it gave me the focus and time for EPAT.

A 20-year career in France through multiple roles, could you share your story with us?

Yes, 20+ years of experience is indeed a pretty long time. I was graduating right when the internet bubble exploded in the year 2000.

I’m an engineer and I started with a technical job around 20 years ago. I would code applications for an IT company in the Business Intelligence domain. So, I have a good background in financial software development. Slowly I ascended to sales roles - not building the software but selling it, and giving demos.

I went to trade a bit randomly, a bit by chance via a friend who had a trading room. This is where I saw how professional traders traded.

On a personal note, I did not want to make one good trade, reach a peak and then fall out, just because I didn’t have enough information to be efficient. If you want to be profitable at trading, you have to make decisions, and you have to build some very strong strategies. You cannot just buy or sell by chance, otherwise, I believe you would lose.

To be efficient in this space, you need to have a broad understanding of how things are going, how the market works, how risk management works, and more. I was interested in Algo trading because I was dealing with forecasting time series. I could apply it to my work. Although I recollect studying it in school when I was young.

I realized that if I wanted to be profitable at this, I’d really need to have some very strong strategies. And this is where I started investigating algorithmic trading.

How did you get introduced to algorithmic trading? How did you come to know about QuantInsti?

While trying to learn on the internet, I came across an advertisement about EPAT. What fascinated me was that it was providing a strong foundation to understand trading, specifically with algorithms. The curriculum covered the entire space of trading. This made me choose EPAT.

For the moment, I’ve created an algorithm that works on futures, and I plan to scale it on the options moving forwards. Since I’m working at the moment, I don't really trade that frequently. I trade when my children are sleeping. I also keep monitoring my results with the algo, checking how it behaves, or if it is consistent with my tests. This way I can keep improving my algorithm too.

I understand how the market behaves, and based on my intuition, I capitalise on them. Backtesting is only the backbone, so if you do not test your strategy and start deploying, it could get rough.

My trades are very short, I just want to gain early with a high percentage and its an intraday trade. When I code my algorithm, I try to avoid Drawdowns. So, it's very short.

Could you share how EPAT has helped you enhance your knowledge of Trading?

I think I am one of the few among my EPAT batchmates who did not have a very strong operational experience in trading or a traditional trading background that most of the students had. I had to catch up on a lot of things.

At EPAT, I could ask any question, everything was understandable and I could catch up quite quickly. Plus, having an inclination for Mathematics helps a lot and the knowledge of computer science - they both really come in handy.

I utilised my time during the lockdown in front of my computer to read again, and to listen again, to the lectures.

What was your motivation to learn Algorithmic Trading via EPAT?

The only objective that I had was to understand how trading works from the high and low-level point of view and to start building an algorithm that would help me achieve this. It’s about finding the right fine-tuning. That's all.

Having some financial information on how the market works requires purely financial training because when you build a strategy, you need to understand how the economy works, how currencies work together, how employment may influence currencies. I think you need to have a very strong scientific approach to this. It's the only way to survive.

EPAT is very good at giving the fundamentals and letting us understand how the market works. I look forward to being a part of the EPAT Alumni Community on LinkedIn, exclusively for EPATians. If you want to build an additional source of income by trading and want to know how to go about it, be sure to check it out.

What message would you give to the aspiring Algo Trader and Quants?

The background doesn’t matter - We all don't have the same background. I didn’t, but I was at ease with coding. Some are on the complete opposite side having knowledge of only trading, while some are at ease with the strategy statistical concepts.

Be perceptive - Understand your strengths and weaknesses, and focus on improving the strengths and overcoming your weaknesses.

Find your motivation - You need to be strongly motivated, as well. I had a clear intention to build an algo and working on it was a strong motivation.  I keep evolving and I keep trying new things to improve the returns and to avoid drawdowns on volatility at my returns – from my algo.

Understand - It's really about having a strong understanding of where you want to put the fault because trading is a bit of everything. In fact, it's a bit of knowledge, a bit of coding, a bit of mathematics, a bit of intuition, etc. It's a bit of everything. You need to master all these fields to be efficient.

Beyond limits - Don’t limit yourself, keep learning, improving and evolving with the technology. So that tomorrow if something new comes into the market, you would be ready.

Upskill - Learning adds skills to your personality. You try new things, try to see what works, and eventually, you master the subject.

Achieve - EPAT grooms you in all areas - it's not just a one-shot training. I encourage everyone who is searching for a new opportunity to learn or to enter the domain of Algo Trading, this is a very solid training. The lecturers are very knowledgeable, they’re very credible.

Learning from some fine individuals like yourself, who have been through the complete journey, is very helpful to those who wish to be a part of this domain of Algorithmic and Quantitative Trading.

Thank you for your candid words, Gilles. It was great conversing with you. We believe your words will inspire our readers towards creating their own success stories.

The Executive Programme in Algorithmic Trading (EPAT) is a comprehensive course covering topics ranging from Statistics & Econometrics to Financial Computing & Technology including Machine Learning and more. Start your quest to upgrade your knowledge of Algorithmic Trading with EPAT. Check it out here.

Listen to Gilles complete story on Spotify, RSS or Google Podcast.

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