Quantum Mechanics, Finance and now Algo Trading | Gustavo's story

6 min read

51-year-old EPATian Gustavo Corrêa hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. He has a tremendous work experience of 25+ years, which he likes to call his life experience.

Gustavo has done his Masters in Quantum Mechanics as well as Masters in Financial Engineering, along with multiple certifications to improve his skills.

From his childhood spent in Brazil to his current life in South Africa as an Algo trader, Gustavo shares his incredible journey into Algorithmic trading.

Hi Gustavo, tell us about yourself!

Hello there! My name is Gustavo Corrêa. I was born and brought up in Brazil, South America. I now live in South Africa as my mother is South African and I moved here in 1998.

I studied Physics in Brazil and then did my Masters in Quantum Mechanics, simply because I love the objective side of science and mathematics. And later on, that was a strong influence on my path toward algorithmic trading.

Teaching is one of my passions, I've always been teaching. The ability to share knowledge and experience it again, the joy of learning something, is always very unique. When you teach somebody, you join that person in her journey of learning and discovery, and the joy of having a deeper understanding.

I remember how during my first year at university in Brazil the lecturers went on strike. We couldn't waste our time, so everybody in the class got together, divided the subjects among ourselves, and then prepared lessons to teach each other. I had prepared lessons on calculus, physics and even classical mechanics.

After my Masters in Quantum Mechanics, I began to teach computer animation in Brazil, and when I moved to South Africa I started a computer animation school.

I'm Catholic, and currently, I also teach religious education at my children’s school. And for me, that is a completely different yet exciting avenue because it involves metaphysics, philosophy and theology, and talking about morals and the whole idea of becoming a better person.

Physics, Finance and now Algo Trading, how did that happen for you?

I came across discretionary trading first, where you devise and implement strategies by yourself, and not using a computer. You have ample tools to use for trading. You have to understand the market moves, and it's all dependent on your expertise and attention to identify opportunities.

It was life just taking me in a new direction by discovering discretionary trading, and then obviously, I was on my own trying to learn by books, videos and any material I could get hold of.

Then I discovered algorithmic trading, where you can actually create a program to not only execute your strategies but also develop them beforehand, based on sound statistical principles that you can follow. That was amazing for me because I have always loved programming and mathematics, and I was now jumping into a field that covered both.

The realization that you can use computers for trading, develop strategies, implement and manage them opens a whole new avenue because you can process so much more data with computers.

Algo trading is a combination of programming, a coalition of mathematics and statistics, which suits my physics background. It wasn’t that difficult to navigate the markets successfully.

It caught my interest since it was mathematics, statistics, programming and data analysis. I love numbers. But I never thought or planned a career in finance.

I feel Algo Trading requires one to commit time and effort. I got in touch with a previous EPAT alumnus Jacques Joubert, who was also from South Africa. Through him, I got to know about the Executive Programme in Algorithmic Trading (EPAT). Immediately, I could identify the strengths of both avenues: theoretical and practical.

A Masters in Financial Engineering would provide a strong theoretical background.

EPAT on the other hand teaches you the theory and practice needed to be able to implement your vision of trading, and it provides such an unbelievable hands-on experience. You get in touch with industry people that share their experiences there as well.

Hence, I decided that after finishing my Masters in Finance, I would join the EPAT Certification Programme.

Being from a Science background, did you find learning Algo Trading challenging?

I think in any field that you want to learn, you can get deep and down into it, and it will still be challenging, no matter where you come from.

I would say that my background in Financial Engineering helped me a lot in terms of general concepts of algorithmic trading. There was a bit of programming involved as well, but there was this foundation provided that guided my learning of coding. And, from that, I was able to build up the blocks that EPAT offered.

EPAT is very broad on its topics, and it offers you several options. You can later go deeper into a specific one such as HFT or machine learning.

I can say that I found the EPAT course very interesting and challenging.

How different is EPAT compared to self-study over the years?

The biggest risk of studying online is that it ends up becoming just a one-person affair. You have the material posted online, you go look at it, check it, read it, do the tasks, and yet that might not be ideal for some learning subjects. For some it might work, for others, it may not.

But with EPAT, we have Live lectures where you get involved in real-time with the lecture, and you're even able to ask questions and get answers to them directly from some of the finest faculties in the domain.

That's like the classic case of you sitting in front of a teacher who’s teaching. Those live lectures are essential for the amazing quality of the course. I do get the recordings of the lectures in case I’ve missed them, but attending the live lectures is always the best option.

EPAT’s LMS (the online learning platform) is also amazing as you have access to the course material, notes, lectures and a lot more.

So even though it's an online learning platform, it is interactive in a way that it doesn't feel like a one-way relationship, but rather a symbiotic one.

Which feature of EPAT did you like the most?

The faculty and support managers are very helpful. I keep receiving e-mails from the placement team, which is a wonderful and strong feature of EPAT. But there are some things I want to point out.

First, I would point out that EPAT is an institution from India, and as such people may be negatively biased and say you rather go to America, UK or Germany for learning. But that's missing the point completely: in this day and age great stuff can come from anywhere in the world, and EPAT is definitely one of them.

Secondly, the faculty is top-notch. The lecturers are from all around the world and that is what makes it a true world-class course.

So don't get deceived by the thought of “what good can come from India”?!. Look at me, I’m a Brazilian guy learning from a world-class course on Algo trading from India, all the way from South Africa.

What is your message to the students who want to learn about Algo Trading?

I would say that there are two elements - one which you have full control of and one that you have little control of.

While attending the EPAT course, if you put yourself into it, and you apply yourself, that is a success story in itself. You're going to learn it. You are going to know all there is about it.

After EPAT, you will have all the tools, skills and knowledge that you need to become an algo trader. That is the outcome that I can promise you, that you have full control of because it just depends on you. Everything is there, and it's up to you to make the most of it.

But when it is time to develop strategies and apply all that you have learned about algo trading, there will be challenges as now you are dealing with the real world, of which you have little control!

You will definitely be much more equipped to become successful after completing EPAT, but that success will take time and patience. Again, it all depends on your dedication: be honest with what you have learned and apply it.

That was truly inspiring and thank you for sharing your incredible journey with us, Gustavo. As you said, these are life experiences, and we hope our readers will connect with your story. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

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, and Machine Learning, this algo trading course ensures that you are proficient in every skill required to excel in the field of trading. Check out EPAT now!

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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