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Mind the Gap

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
-Xunzi

When I spend time on college campuses as the manager of the TT CampusConnect® program, the questions I field from educators typically revolve around the best way to equip students with the skills needed to ensure a smooth transition from the classroom to career. While my experience in this regard is limited to the world of futures and options, I’m sure the same is true for any discipline: to set students up for success after graduation, create a learning environment that mirrors the workplace as closely as possible.

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Get Whatcha Need

“If you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”
– The Rolling Stones

I think maybe Mick Jagger needs to talk to some of today’s graduates and hiring managers. It seems that some aren’t sure what they want—and consequently don’t get what they need.

The current skills gap quandary is not a myth, but rather an expensive problem. And it seems that it is “degree agnostic.”

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Dead Ringer

Bears 3
 

“Once in awhile you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right.”
-Scarlet Begonias

As the manager of TT CampusConnect™, Trading Technologies’ university outreach program, I spend a lot of time on college campuses and have the opportunity to reap the benefits of those visits.

On a recent visit to one of our partner schools, the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), I noticed a poster advertising the Grateful Dead Archive, a collection available for public viewing in UCSC’s McHenry Library. What? This is right up my alley. As a big fan of all things “jam” (the Dead, Dave Matthews, Phish, et al.), I had to check this out.

In 2008, the band members donated over 30 years of business records, posters, backstage passes and laminates as well as audio and video recordings to the university. They even donated the skeletons used in the music video for their song Touch of Grey. Guitarist Bob Weir said, “It seemed to all of us that the stuff really belongs to the community that supported us for all those years. And Santa Cruz seemed the coziest possible home for it.” Ah, California!

While in the university bookstore, I came upon a book by Professor Barry Barnes, the chair of leadership at the Huizenga School of Business at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale The title was Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead. Really? This I had to check out.

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A Trader’s DNA

Alex Preda King's College London
 

The following is a guest post authored by Alex Preda. He is professor of accounting, accountability and financial management at King’s College London, a TT CampusConnect™ partner school since 2013. His principal research activities relate to global financial markets, and his research interests include: strategic behavior in financial markets; decision-making and cognitive processes in electronic anonymous markets; market automation and trading technologies. His publications include, among others, Framing Finance: The Boundaries of Markets and Modern Capitalism (University of Chicago Press, 2009), Information, Knowledge, and Economic Life: An Introduction to the Sociology of Markets (Oxford University Press, 2009) and Noise. Living and Trading in Electronic Finance (University of Chicago Press 2016, forthcoming).

What makes a good trader? It’s an important question and one that preoccupies those in capital markets. I have the opportunity to interview a number of traders to see if I can determine what makes them tick and what kind of characteristics are essential for success. Here are some of the insights I gleaned.

I discovered that it is more than a trading strategy, available capital or a particular trading philosophy. For these to be effective, they need a firm foundation. I don’t know if I can say someone is born a trader, but I can say there are certain attributes to a trader’s personality that are significant for successful trading and constitute a good trader. If these questions seem more psychological than financial, it’s because they are. Needless to say, these questions preoccupy traders, both institutional and retail, as they try to improve their performance. In similar fashion, interview questions probe candidates to determine if they have what it takes to ensure the success of a trading desk.

Even when the markets were pit traded and physical prowess mattered, height, energy and a loud voice could take a trader just so far. These were trading tools available to some, but they were wasted if the individual lacked the essentials. Today’s tools are electronic and automated, but in the same spirit they are only as good as the individual using them. Even though traders today monitor computers and trading strategies are automated, firms still look for certain qualities that define a trader.

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