Life of A Quantitative Trader | King Ian | EP 07

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Expectations vs Reality

In today’s world where we are overwhelmed by information and exposed to different perspectives, our perception of different jobs may not necessarily match up to the reality of the occupation. More often than not, we may be misinformed.

In today’s episode, King Ian shares how his actual job experience was not what he expected from that particular role, as well as understanding your purpose and passion.

Who is King Ian?

King Ian is currently a Trading Analyst at Grasshopper, a leading proprietary trading firm providing liquidity in global markets. He is a self-taught programmer, and his past internships include actuarial valuation at AXA and software development at Quantedge. 

He has a Bachelors in Business (Honours) with a specialisation in Actuarial Science from Nanyang Technological University, where he founded the Quantitative Asset Management arm of NTU’s Investment Banking Club and served as the treasurer for Soul Funky (a dance club focused on Popping and Locking).

Purposeful Actions

King Ian had no prior programming background, yet he was able to pick it up himself. Subsequently, he capitalised on his coding skills to secure his current job offer. Curious as to how he managed to do so, I asked him what are the steps one should take to get started.

"The number one thing you need to ask yourself is, why you are doing this"

Before delving into the specifics, he emphasised on asking yourself why you are doing this. King Ian said that it is important to understand the end goal you’re working towards, otherwise it’ll be difficult to sustain the motivation.

"It's hard to get the motivation because it's just doing things because other people tell you to do, we don't actually believe in what we're doing"

Figuring Out Your Passion

For King Ian, he didn’t always have a clear idea of what he wanted to do after university. In fact, it can be said that he stumbled upon his current interests during his internship for another job role.

Something I took away from this is the importance of trying out what you intend to pursue. What you imagined would be your responsibilities might turn out to be something entirely different.

Internships are one of the best avenues for us to discover ourselves and find out what we are truly passionate about. Don’t be afraid to try out new things!

Importance of a Supportive Company

Throughout the interview, I could sense the gratitude King Ian has towards his current employers, Grasshopper. He highlighted various instances where his company contributed to his personal growth and career development.

One initiative is the allocation of mentors and buddies to King Ian when he entered the firm. By doing so, he was able to seek guidance from his mentors whenever he encountered problems he couldn’t resolve himself.

For job applicants, this is something to take note of when considering your options. For employers, building up a supportive company culture is paramount to the company’s success.

Some questions I asked:

  • How does someone pick up programming from scratch? (07:48)
  • What’s one interesting thing about the quantitative finance industry? (12:13)
  • What are some defining qualities of a good quantitative trader? (13:26)

In this episode, you will learn:

  • King Ian’s initial interest in Actuary (01:12)
  • Actuarial internship experience (04:04)
  • Entering the Quantitative Finance industry (18:12)

Show notes:

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