A Day in the life of a Quantitative Researcher

Risk and Research

It was late at night. I just started my B.Tech, so I was doing what every fresher does. Talking to my newly found friends about where I see myself after graduation. A lot of them (all) had the same response. Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook … I said I wanted to go to Wall Street. Of course I did not have the slightest idea of what it meant. But being inspired after watching countless movies like Margin Call, Inside Job, The Big Short etc. I just blurted out my mind. It was 2018.

Five years down the line, after a few hits and misses, I can safely say I kept my promise.

Hi. I am Adarsh, currently working as a Quantitative Researcher at IrageCapital. Though it's not in Wall Street, it is definitely as close as it gets. 

8:45 am

All the traders have reached their desks in anticipation of another eventful day. Looking at the screens and aggressively banging their keyboards to reveal a slight hint of nervousness before the Market Open. 

9:07 am

The Pre-Open. Everyone hurriedly skims through the prices to readjust their params, portfolios etc. Some bets are won, and some are lost. But everyone hopes since it's just the start of a long day.

9:15 am

The Opening Bell. The computer screens suddenly burst into a rainbow of colors, and the trading floor springs to life. Coffee mugs turn lukewarm since no one has time to catch their breath and take a sip. DevOps run around the floor to resolve the issues, since it's now or never. 

9:45 am

As the dust settles, the Market starts to show some sanity. I take the first sip of my coffee while checking my ToDo list for the day and get ready to get my hands dirty with some research work while the full-time traders continue to trade. 

From a researcher's perspective, there can seldom be a macro explanation for a given outcome. It's imperative to check every nook and corner of the Market. When working on a strategy, you hypothesize every outcome, and every market reaction to make your strategy foolproof. 

There have been days when I've been left speechless after analyzing the OrderBook and finding something so subtle yet incredibly important. 

It's a very dynamic job where you are exposed to a lot of new ideas, have the freedom to implement a lot of things, and finally get to trade your ideas. 

1:30 pm

Lunch Time. I almost always have lunch at my desk while working, since I can't leave my screen and go to the cafeteria. The Market won't wait for you to finish your lunch. The stakes are simply too high.

3:00 pm

Beginning of the End. The buildup to the Market Close begins, and the Market starts to dance. I have witnessed days where the last half-hour wipes out the entire day's hard work or quadruples it. Again the floor enters a state of delirium, as the next half-hour is make or break. Be wary of Margin Calls though :(

3:30 pm

The Market finally comes to a close, and we head downstairs for a well-deserved break. 

4:00 pm

I am back at my desk. It's time to learn from mistakes. We go through our bad fills or outlier signals to ensure we do not repeat it. I have a talk with the devs, regarding upcoming releases and new ideas to implement. The best perk of being a researcher is that you witness the best of both worlds: trading and development. 

5:00 pm

I generally have a meeting with the traders, devs, or other team members. We brainstorm ideas and create plans to make millions :)

6:00 pm

Time to get ready for tomorrow's battle. We rejig our portfolios, replan our strategies based on today's data and analysis, and ensure that everything is up and clean to make the next day easier (which it never is).

6:30 pm

I pick up my bag and bid adieu to my friends/colleagues. While on my way back, I wonder if the 2018 version of me would be happy to know what I did today. I smile as I get ready for the other part of my day.