Not sure what you can do with your econometric knowledge after your studies? Or just curious where other econometricians work? No worries! With the rubric ‘Into the Business’, the Estimator gives you a taste of different companies where you, as an econometrician, can end up. This time we dive into the world of IMC. We’ve spoken to Steven ten Have and Rob Ooms, both working at IMC.
Could you explain what IMC does?
Steven: IMC is a market maker. This means that we constantly quote ‘bid’ and ‘ask’ prices to the financial markets. Originally, we did this for options only. Nowadays we also trade futures, stocks and ETF’s. We try to accurately value these financial products to come up with profitable strategies.
How did you end up at a company like IMC?
Rob: During my studies, I got interested in proprietary trading companies like IMC. I carefully considered several of them as places to start my career, for example by visiting in-house days. Once I decided that IMC was the trading company that suited me best, I applied for an internship. I ended up doing two internships at IMC. The first internship was a summer job and during the second one I wrote my thesis. IMC was positive about my performance and I liked the work a lot, so I accepted the full time offer I received after my last internship. What I liked most about the internship was that I got to work in the dealing room from the start and worked on projects closely related to trading. IMC interns are given a lot of responsibility and learn a lot in a short amount of time. Also, there is a really open culture here at IMC: I can walk up to anybody and they are always more than willing to help me.
You said you also considered other trading companies. Why did you choose IMC?
Rob: I felt like there was a better connection between technology and trading at IMC, compared to other companies. With a background in computer science, I liked the fact that I could develop code as part of my job, but at the same time still have the excitement/variety of trading. IMC is the perfect place for that.
What do you like the most about your job?
Rob: I love working as a team. Together we work to constantly improve ourselves and each other. Also, every day is different: you never know what the day will bring, what is new in the market. This makes every day interesting. As a trader you are responsible for a certain product that you are trading. You have to make sure everything works as it is supposed to do. At the same time, you are busy improving existing strategies or coming up with new ones.
Steven: Trading strategies are always automated at IMC. For example, take a strategy that trades EuroStoxx options. The strategy determines whether it considers an option too cheap and then buys it or considers it too expensive and then sells it. The algorithm automatically trades during the whole day. We are constantly looking at statistics to determine whether the strategy behaves like we would expect. Based on those statistics we get inspiration for points of improvement. Let’s say, for example, Rob is responsible for a certain strategy. During the day, he solves the short term problems on the one hand, while on the other hand he is also responsible for developing strategies that make more money in the long term. The combination of looking at both the short and the long term is something that I personally find very interesting. You want to be profitable every day, but without overlooking the long-term projects that can result in really innovative ideas.
How do you apply the skills and knowledge you gained during your studies on a daily basis?
Rob: I studied econometrics and computer science. The skill learned during my studies that I use the most is programming. This is a really important aspect of my day-to- day job at IMC. You don’t need to have a lot of finance knowledge, but you do need to be interested in financial markets.
Steven: I also think programming is the most useful skill I learned during my mathematics studies in Delft. One tip for students: try to learn Python. In practice it is used a lot more than some other languages like Matlab.
What does a typical day at IMC look like?
Rob: I arrive at the office around 8 in the morning. I start by checking all the computer systems. Then, at 9 the market opens and the trading begins. When the market is volatile, I’m busy checking all the systems and strategies. When the market calms down I work on my long term projects. At half past 5 the markets close. Then we evaluate the day, so we learn every day. IMC is an international company so over 60% of the employees in the Amsterdam office are from abroad. With offices in Chicago and Sydney, we are able to trade around the clock. And because IMC values the work-life balance of employees, the overnight desks of the other offices are located in Amsterdam.
What is the application procedure like at IMC?
Steven: The procedure for internships and full-time traders is exactly the same. It is a combination of aptitude tests, Skype interviews and face-to- face interviews. The interviews are designed to test your technical skills and to make sure you’ll be a good fit for the company culture. We are looking for people that can learn new skills quickly. Knowledge about trading is not a prerequisite, but you do have to learn a lot in a short time. Also, creativity is very important, since you have to come up with innovative strategies all the time. Lastly, you need to have an entrepreneurial mindset: you need to dare to take initiative and come up with your own ideas. If you come up with an idea for a strategy you have be able to convince the rest of the team to put a lot of development time in it.
Do you have any tips for students who are considering a career in trading?
Steven: Get to know different trading companies and so you can decide what you like and don’t like and which one suits you best. A good way to start getting to know IMC is to meet us during the Econometric Career Days in November or come to an in-house day. During the Econometric Career Days we will have a trading simulator on site and we will challenge you to come up with your own trading strategy! If you enjoy it, you should apply for an internship. Also, try to learn Python and read about financial markets. It will help you a lot if you want to become a trader.IMC will be one of our Premium Partners during the Econometric Career Days 2017. Meet them during their case on the 16th of November. To stay up-to-date about the Econometric Career Days, like us on Facebook. For more info about IMC check their website.