Connect with us

Business

The Rise Of Algorithmic Trading: How Manned Trading Desks Are Seeing Their Demise

Published

on

One of the last human points of resistance to the algorithmic take-over of professional trading can be found in the fixed-income trading desk.

The deft relationship business is known for having participants with Ivy League pedigrees and a lacrosse playing background, a data point that a machine learning algorithm recently used when making hiring recommendations.

With an algorithmic transition, profit margins are being squeezed as human relationships are becoming less important. Benchmarking the transition are new hiring mandates at some of the largest banks, a recent Greenwich Associates report pointed out.

Relationships and fundamental market understanding are less important, the report noted, and algorithmic experience and data science skills are now in demand.

In this emerging environment, what are best practices for an integration framework?

When combining fundamental investment thinking with quantitative thinking unique conflicts often arise. Fundamental, discretionary fund managers often creatively connect non-correlated dots and sometimes challenge consensus thinking.

Quantitative logic, on the other hand, is often driven by if-then Boolean logic at its core and looks for mathematical consensus to guide decisions. Mixing these two disciplines can be like expecting oil and water to enjoy each other’s company.

“Relationships and balance sheet still matter, of course,” Greenwich Associates Managing Director Kevin McPartland wrote in a report title that highlights a dichotomy, “Trust and Data Drive Fixed-Income Dealer Growth.”

Trust is a human concept and data is often associated with empirical, mathematically discovered understanding is the point where a melding of the minds might occur.

The integration of the two highlights the new path forward. “But the ability to manage both in a more quantitatively driven way can mean the difference between profit growth and a year-on-year decline,” McPartland observed.

Technology is increasingly becoming an important feature on bond trading desks, particularly for sell-side banks. Fully 91% of bulge bracket banks said automating parts of the trading process was one of their “top technology priorities for 2018,” the Greenwich Associates report pointed out.

Only 44% of middle market participants, meanwhile, felt the same. This group was having slightly more difficulty “complying with new/changing regulations” and was more focused on improving client management tools and data.

Knowing what technology to integrate so as to deliver a near-term positive return on investment while positioning the firm for a longer-term shift in intelligent automation can prove challenging and, itself, might have variables that don’t easily fit into a math formula.

“Assessing the process of tech integration is always a challenge because no technology is perfect, but it is often much better than human performance,” said Evan Schnidman, CEO and Co-Founder, Prattle, a firm that uses machine learning techniques to analyze human speech patterns to provide a market edge.

Electronic equities trading has proven to be highly reliable, but very rare missteps can have catastrophic cascading effects. With bond trading, and any other technology-driven process in financial services, it is vital to build appropriate circuit breakers and human checkpoints. Simply, technology is a valuable tool, but humans still need to be in the loop.”

When integrating technology into a bond trading workflow it is important to set proper expectations that can be measured on a project plan timeline.

Often times expecting the unexpected is a discretionary skill that requires understanding technology’s limits.

“The best practice in tech integration is to remember that technology will not solve all of your problems, but it may be able to streamline the human workflow and optimize decision making,” Schnidman said. “If institutions keep that in mind, they are likely to adopt technology more readily, thereby making each additional innovation less jarring from a tech integration standpoint.”

With technological change coming at an increasingly rapid pace, the imperative is in understand what aspects of human trading can be modeled and what should remain discretionary.

“Instead of fully relying on quantitative approach at the beginning, it is a good starting point to integrate the output of quants and AI models in the human decision making process of position taking and dealing,” said Tsuyoshi Yokokawa, founder and CEO of San Francisco based Alpaca Markets, a firm that in parts helps integrate quantitative trading models into fundamental trading methodologies.

As the last refuge of human-based trading turns algorithmic, the processes and methodologies that drive these projects are likely to determine success or failure to a large degree.

In bond trading, the sell side is taking a different approach to that of the middle market.

Business

10 Bizarre Things About The WeWork IPO Filing

Published

on

wework

As WeWork goes public in its recently announced IPO, professionals and entrepreneurs better take note. The sharing economy is spreading its wings beyond Uber and AirBnB.

Although less well known than those icons of the sharing economy, WeWork could change how we work in the years ahead.

That said, its IPO is a bit bizarre, as the media has been quick to point out. Here’s why.

1. We Work Is Running Spectacular Losses

In 2018, the company had a net loss of $1.9 billion. In the first 6 months of 2019 alone, it lost another $900 million.

2. Investors Worry The Company Will Run Out Of Cash

MKM Partners’ Rohit Kulkarni said the company faces a real prospect of running out of cash in a few months’ time.

3. WeWork Is Spending Money Like It’s 1999

via GIPHY

The startup has a burn rate of $150m-$200m a month.

4. Over $47 billion In Future Lease Obligations

WeWork will need to make a ton of money in the future to make it all work.

5. Its Contracts With Users Are Short Term

The startup keeps things flexible for users but is taking on more of the risk itself.

6. The Company Could Be On The Hook If Users Leave

If users defect, WeWork’s rent obligations remain. This should worry any investor.

7. WeWork’s Business Model Is Iffy At Best

The company has declining revenue per user, on top of its failure to be profitable. In other words, things could get worse for investors.

8. Conflicts Of Interest With The CEO  

WeWork leases some buildings owned in part by CEO Adam Neumann, paying millions in rents for it.

9. WeWork’s China Assets A Puzzle For Investors

The company’s assets in China are puzzling for investors, and they carry unique risks yet to be fully understood.

10. Despite All Its Troubles, WeWork Has A Staggering Valuation

via GIPHY

This unicorn has a valuation of $47 billion. Some in the business media say it’s based on smoke and mirrors. The IPO could be a good test of whether the valuation will hold.

Continue Reading

Business

5 Steps To Create A Freedom-Based Team That Love What They Do

Published

on

(Editor’s Note: The following article is a guest post by superstar entrepreneur and tech investor Jonathan Schultz.)

Your team should love coming to work every day and they should love what they are doing. The worst thing a leader can do for their team is to restrict the ways in which they work and not allow them to do the work they think matters most. Here are five strategies for creating a freedom-based team that loves what they do.

According to a 2017 Gallup Employee Engagement Survey, 33% of U.S. professionals are engaged, 51% are disengaged and 16% are actively engaged. Freedom-based companies, by contrast, can typically boast that more than 70 percent of their professionals are “engaged.” These numbers bring into question how many of your team members are actually engaged in the work they are doing and how can you help boost this number?

FIRST STEP: LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR

Your team members will never believe that you trust their insight or intelligence if you are always the person who has the best solution. You need to allow your team to shine with the freedom to succeed or fail on their own. Your team is a reflection of your leadership. Remember, there is not only one style of leadership that works.

SECOND STEP: SHARE THE COMPANY’S VISION

A shared vision is fundamental when it comes to creating a freedom-based team. This will provide a common goal and establish a criterion for teams to make educated decisions. Qualified team members do not need to be told how to do their jobs. When you set them free to explore their talents and call the shots, they will have the potential to perform even better.

THIRD STEP: CREATE CLARITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

There’s nothing more effective than being clear on what we’re all trying to accomplish while being accountable for the short-term success of each and every project. Like stated above, the combination of this with vision unlocks tremendous progress.

FOURTH STEP: DISCUSS ROADBLOCKS WITH YOUR TEAM

It’s very important to create time during the week to do 10-15 minute huddle sessions, whether through online collaboration tools if you’re not in the same location —or even better, in person. So everyone FEELS the progress together. You feed off the energy of the whole —and I feel like that’s missing a lot of times. Everyone is trying to shine themselves, but when you feed off the energy of the WHOLE, it’s more powerful.

FIFTH STEP: TAKE ON THE ROLE OF GUARDIAN OF YOUR FREE TEAM

When your team takes on more responsibility and make more decisions on their own, there will be less for you to handle, which means you can abstain from using your formal authority and serve as a guardian instead. Your new role will be the tie that keeps everything strewn together and keeps the company operating successfully and efficiently.

Your team will love coming to work if they feel they are valued, trusted and have the freedom to work in the way they do best. These five steps will help you accomplish establishing a freedom-based team.

Jonathan Schultz is an entrepreneur, real estate tech investor and influencer. He’s the co-founder of Onyx Equities, a leading private equity real estate firm, and has been voted one of the most powerful people in real estate. Follow Jon’s blog here

Continue Reading

Business

The Art And Science Of How To Keep Talented People Around

Published

on

(Editor’s Note: The following article is a guest post by superstar entrepreneur and tech investor Jonathan Schultz.)

The number one reason talented people leave their jobs is because of the failure of their direct managers. Businesses are defined by the strength of their people. Even in the most successful company (think Google, Amazon, etc.), a bad manager can drive talented employees out the door. So what is the true art and science of keeping talented people around?

SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP

Successful managers apply targeted, dynamic coaching to each individual team member. There is not one management style that works for everyone or every situation. Managers need to adapt their approach to every situation and every team member. This is called situational leadership. This situational leadership model has been used across 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies and has received numerous accolades from training experts.

The model details how we learn new skills and the four stages of mastering new tasks. For every stage and task, managers need to adapt their approach to managing their report.

STAGE 1

When your team member approaches a new and unfamiliar task with a determination to master it, they see opportunity. They are complete beginners in execution, but they possess high motivation and low skill. In this step, the manager needs to take a highly directive approach, where they demonstrate how the task should be done, setting concrete goals and closely reviewing the report’s progress as well. You are not being a micromanager by supporting the growth and training of your team. Sometimes your team needs to use your expertise as training wheels.

STAGE 2

This stage is full of frustration. Why? Because it generally takes people more time to master a skill than they’d like. Discouragement will set it and their confidence will lower. While they have built up more skills, their confidence is at its lowest in this stage. In this stage, the manager needs to serve as a cheerleader and remind their team member of why they were chosen to do this task and remind them of how far they have already come.

STAGE 3

In the third stage, people have gained enough skill to complete the task but still maintain a mentality of imposter syndrome in which they are more skilled than their confidence allows them to believe. They may even still be discouraged. In this stage, managers need to do less guiding and allow their team member to perform while self-directly more consistently. These acts of trust can boost the team member’s confidence and their dependence on the manager will fade while their confidence increases.

STAGE 4

People reach stage four when their confidence is at the same level as their skill. They become veterans and will continue to boost their confidence and skill set. This is the stage in which the manager steps back and gives the employee the space to continue fostering growth. Check in every now and then and help as needed. Also be sure to recognize the team member for all of their accomplishments along the way.

Keeping talented people around is not hard. Managers just need to apply situational leadership and remember that every team member works and learns differently and need an environment in which they can thrive in. As the leader, you are building this environment, so make sure it is a healthy one.

Jonathan Schultz is an entrepreneur, real estate tech investor and influencer. He’s the co-founder of Onyx Equities, a leading private equity real estate firm, and has been voted one of the most powerful people in real estate. Follow Jon’s blog here

Continue Reading

Trending