A Journey of Learning, Certification and Placement in Algo Trading

5 min read

"The world is your oyster"
A now-popular phrase, it was coined by William Shakespeare.

This phrase is quite true for EPATian BNS Kumar. A Quant professional and having an MSc. in Economics, BNS has been a part of the finance and economic side of the market for more than 12 years.

Managing time, staying dedicated to learning and also believing in imparting his knowledge, BNS has consistently kept improving himself. Achieving the EPAT Certificate of Excellence, BNS has now successfully established himself in the domain of Algo and Quant Trading.

We connected with him over a call, and the following is how our discussion went about him sharing his journey with us.

Hi BNS, tell us about yourself

I’m BNS Kumar and I've been working in the Quant field for the past decade. I hold an MSc in Financial Economics and I’m pursuing Actuarial Course from the Institute of Actuaries of India. I’m presently working as a Quant Associate.

I like tennis and playing the violin. Nowadays, most of my time is spent managing my very active kid, reading to him and taking him to school. I learn a lot from kids. They don’t give up and keep trying till they achieve it. This is one thing that I apply to my algo trading.

Markets are all about Risk Management. Teaching a machine to manage risk is difficult. My experiments with markets revolve around these aspects and finding an efficient way to exit trades.

Were you always interested in learning to trade?

My career was in the finance field but not trading. I started my journey analyzing balance sheets, billing statements, building financial models in Excel and automating the Excel sheet using VBA.

I wanted to understand what’s behind the numbers so I pursued my Master’s. Right after I got a job building portfolio models. Since then, I’ve been trading manually on and off just following some technical rules, not like a proper trader.

Fact: A publication about structured finance and bond market development by BNS Kumar and his then manager is also published in the Asian Journal of Research in Banking and finance.

My personal trading journey started with positional trading. I used to analyze the balance sheet and quarterly reports of a couple of securities and then buy them manually.

Over a period of time, there was a lot of data coming in and we started doing data analytics. This helped me to basically reduce the trading frequency and increase the data research trade automation.

I wanted to automate this process because it would help me psychologically and in better managing my trades. Around 2014-15 I was looking for courses that can give me an introduction to algo trading.

I considered a financial engineering course but chose against it because I already had a Masters. I wanted something part-time and luckily I came across QuantInsti. It's been 5 years since EPAT and now I trade automatically and spend most of my time on research.

What was the impact of EPAT on your professional life?

EPAT completely changed my view of the financial world. It taught me how to look at companies not just from the financial perspective but also from the data perspective.

EPAT gave me a lot of opportunities to apply what I've learned. I believe there’s no point in learning if you don't know how to apply it. A year after finishing EPAT, I got the opportunity to work for a company that was completely into algos. This was my first job in the field and after that I got multiple opportunities working offline and as a consultant for a couple of investors.

Apart from the professional benefits, on the personal side, it has helped me concentrate on research and see whether or not we can make any breakthrough with strategies.

Which feature of EPAT do you like the most?

Out of the many, I loved 3 things about EPAT.

The Placement Cell
After completing EPAT I directly got a job in trading. EPAT gave me ample opportunities and helped me attend many interviews initially for algo trading or quant-based roles. It took me some time to understand what the firms were looking for, what kind of technologies I should have knowledge of.

I managed to crack one such interview and then things changed. Although I’m not a coder or from an engineering background, I learnt coding and statistical methods by myself, applied it to and learn Algo Trading.

QuantInsti has helped me develop myself from a normal person to an algo trader.

Provided learning for someone who is not a Trader
EPAT introduced me to simple strategies like moving average and moved to advanced topics like market microstructure. The important thing I learned here was that there are people out there looking at complex things like Market Microstructure. I started focusing on this and learned how to basically real an order book. I eventually developed a couple of strategies and deployed them, which was a good learning experience.

You can develop strategies and backtest them all you want, but taking it to Live is a completely different experience. I don’t know if people fail when they start trading in the live markets, but I failed in the initial stages.

Laid a solid foundation
EPAT gave a solid foundation. Before EPAT I had started learning fundamental analysis and some technical analysis but I wasn't sure how to implement or test it. In EPAT, we started with Excel, input daily data and performed simple moving average tests, and then automated it by changing the parameters. That was my first strategy development. All this completely changed as I explored technical analysis, microstructure, quant-based rules, etc.

How has the pandemic impacted your trading?

I stopped trading for 3-4 months when the pandemic hit in March 2020 because the volatility was too high. With the lockdown, and not being able to go anywhere, one becomes bored. You have to manage your inner space which is more difficult than it seems.

But luckily, things change, and a few months later once the lockdown was lifted, we were able to go out. I wouldn't say it was a difficult phase, but rather an interesting phase where you basically will learn how to exist with just the basics and manage a family with it.

What message would you give to the individuals who wish to pursue algo trading?

First of all, one needs to understand what they want to achieve and put things in perspective. Also, you should be really good at coding, or you should practice coding at all, then start applying for the job.

If you want to get into Algo trading and EPAT, have clarity on your approach.

The approach should be different for different people:

  • A student would need to focus on coding, get good at it with practice and start applying for jobs
  • An experienced trader should get an overview of what is what and understand the algo industry from EPAT and then start their journey with the algo desk

If you want to change your field or get a job in algo trading - then that is a different perspective.

Also read an inspiring success stories

If you’re already a trader who wants to start an algo desk and want to know what is in and out, that can be yet another perspective.

That's really inspirational BNS. We’re sure that people would really enjoy reading your story. Thank you so much for all your knowledge, for the candid conversation, and for taking the time to connect with us.

Did you know this? BNS Kumar has also conducted an EPATians share session with us sometime back, wherein he spoke about building an algo trading infrastructure. You can watch it here.

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.

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