Swarnendu’s ascension from a PhD in Engineering to Algo Trading

5 min read

Taking a step in another direction, going apart from what you’ve been following - and successfully establishing yourself in that role - is a feat achieved by EPATian Swarnendu Bhattacharya.

Swarnendu did not wait for things to happen. He wanted to be a part of the Algo Trading domain. So, he made a decision, took some courses, and grabbed opportunities as they sprung up. A really good quality to have in the fast-moving domain of algo trading.

Swarnendu has a Mechanical Engineering background, holds a Masters degree, has a PhD from IIT Bombay and has studied in 3 different universities. Now a proud EPAT alumnus, he is also the recipient of the EPAT Certificate of Excellence.

We caught up with Swarnendu over a call to learn about his journey, and this is how the discussion went.

Hi Swarnendu, tell us about yourself!

Hi! I’m Swarnendu Bhattacharya, I’m from the city of Mumbai. I’m working as a Data Scientist at First Source Advantage Limited and have previously worked as a Research Consultant at WorldQuant.

I have rigorous training and a strong background in math modelling, finance, programming and statistics. I’m passionate about quantitative finance, especially in the research of alpha exploration, portfolio modelling, market microstructure and statistical arbitrage.

From a PhD in Engineering to Data Scientist and now Algo Trading, what has your journey been like?

I graduated from the West Bengal University of Technology and went on to get my Master’s in the field of Welding Engineering. Soon after that, I started pursuing a PhD in Computational Mechanics in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Bombay.

During the last stage of pursuing my PhD, I realized that I had a different inclination. I had to put my PhD on hold due to the pandemic as a PhD programme can’t be done on a zoom call and requires face-to-face interactions.

I was interested in trading. My exposure to finance was pretty much non-existent up until that point. I had heard words like bear, bull, market crash and images of people with their heads swooned down. I had also heard of people like Rakesh Jhunjhunwala who always used to make lots of money in the market.

I wanted to decode the markets but there was nothing in IIT-B that could help me, other than a couple of courses like Statistics and Machine learning which I had completed at this point. I explored a lot on my own, from the portfolio's stock selection to technical analysis.

I watched a few Youtube videos to understand these things better, but they don’t teach the basics of how to crunch data or how to use a platform like Python to carry out these tasks.

I lacked an understanding of market price movement and wasn’t so successful in my trading. I wanted to develop a mix of statistical and fundamental strategies clubbed with the ability to tweak human emotions in the model, for a better understanding of market mechanics.

With EPAT, I expected to gain an in-depth understanding of the market, and get an exciting job in a trading firm as a Quantitative Analyst.

So, inevitably, giving in to my intense desire to combine Python with the basic trading skills I had acquired, I began exploring the field of algorithmic trading. This led me to EPAT.

I had started in the Mechanical Engineering field and later started pursuing Machine Learning eventually working as a Data Scientist. I wanted to translate my knowledge into the completely different domain of Financial Analytics.

Thanks to Quantinsti, I got a decent amount of exposure to certain projects in the financial sector. I hope to continue learning and come back to QuantInsti for any new developments in technology that may come up.

How did the Coronavirus pandemic impact your trading?

When the pandemic hit India and the markets dipped, there were two types of people, the ones who panicked and the ones who greedily bought shares. I used this opportunity to perform certain types of analysis.

My idea was to stress test my strategies from march to august, 2020. If a strategy can stay at par or below 5% of the markets, then I can be sure that I have an advanced strategy. This was a stressful time in the market when most people lost. I stayed away from the markets at that point in time.

Right now, I’m investing in a combination of handpicked mutual funds and equity. I look at some of the very basic technical indicators. I also have a few methods to evaluate the intrinsic value of the stock. I do this from all the knowledge I've accumulated from different platforms.

In my current job which is also my first, I work to find different levels of delinquency and mapping them with payments propensity and mapping them to several client IDs. I also work on building models and creating visualizations.

When I say building models, I mean mostly, looking at data, plotting them into visualizations, looking at the distributions, changing the distributions and understanding the best in class competition.

How important was your learning at EPAT?

Before EPAT, I had a certification in Value Investing. During my PhD, there was a World Challenge looking for research consultants in the quant field for PhDs from different disciplines. The more I learnt about Quants, I realized that I didn't have the knowledge required.

I was interested in the field and wanted to give it a proper shot by bettering my knowledge of algorithmic trading using Python. I wanted some experience in the domain so I joined EPAT.

The different topics the EPAT programme dwell into in a methodical manner is really helpful. It’s a good package considering the knowledge and insights it provides.

Some of the features that have benefitted me the most at EPAT are:

  • Placement opportunities,
  • Freelancing opportunities, and
  • Benefits and facilities of being an EPATian
I think QuantInsti’s blogs have evolved a lot! I can even download the python codes and then from there, one can build on that knowledge and look into several other blogs and github codes to create their own resources.

QuantInsti's blogs are really good! Even if you search a particular financial topic in the algo trading domain on google EPAT features at the top of the page.

The faculty are some of the most renowned people in the algo trading realm and this is one of the most important factors in the whole EPAT programme.

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

The most important thing is fto keep updating your knowledge.

The world is filled with places to learn and there is free knowledge on the internet. Pick up your favourite courses and follow your passion.

We are sure you must have studied on weekends, done your assignments, besides your routine work. And you've made through. It does take a lot to believe in yourself, in going ahead and achieving what you desire. That is really inspiring, Swarnendu. All the best for your future.

If you too desire to equip yourself with lifelong skills which will always help you in upgrading your trading strategies. With topics such as Statistics & Econometrics, Financial Computing & Technology, Machine Learning, this algo trading course ensures that you are proficient in every skill required to excel in the field of trading. Enroll in EPAT now!

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