What it's really like to work in crypto market making
Fenni Kang is an options quantitative trader at crypto liquidity provider B2C2. She started her finance career at Barclays in Singapore and in London before moving to B2C2 in September 2021. This is what an average day in her life looks like.
6.30am. I wake up and check my emails and the market news before I get out of bed. Depending on how the markets are doing, this can take me up to 30 minutes. When that’s done, I get out of bed and get ready for the day.
7.30am-8am. If I’m working from home, I start earlier, after a quick breakfast before connecting to the VPN. If I’m going into the office, it doesn’t take me long to get there since I live nearby. My team is global – they’re working everywhere from America and Japan to Scotland. First thing in the morning, I usually talk to our traders in Japan.
8am. My first task of the day is to review all the systems and make adjustments to parameters as required. I’m an options quant trader: I focus on systematic trading strategies and my role involves working with algorithmic trading models and strategies that provide liquidity to other players in the market including exchanges. We create automated trading tools that trade according to the targets we set. We monitor the trades that have been taking place and adjust the targets based on performance.
9.30am. I have a series of meetings with the team, including traders and quant strategists. Some of the traders work over the counter (OTC), meaning that they talk to and trade directly with clients, others trade systematically like me, conducting quant research, implementing our algorithms and trading with the algorithms. The quant strategists create the pricing models and risk analytics that underpin the algos.
It’s always helpful for me to talk to the other traders as they have a good perspective on the market. Crypto trading never stops, so we have traders who work on a shift basis from our offices in London, Tokyo and Jersey City. I communicate with them every day to make sure we’re aligned on the work that’s coming up.
I then talk to our head of electronic trading about what we want to do today in terms of our trading strategy.
11am. I spend time working on our options trading algorithms, such as trading signals, arbitrage opportunities, automated trading on exchanges. I’m responsible for the whole lifecycle of our options systematic trading strategy, from idea generation to implementation through programming to back-testing, and then live trading.
I enjoy this breadth of approach. Some places have quant research split out from execution, but it’s more fun to cover the whole lifecycle of systematic trading. I come up with my own ideas, and I’m also inspired by my colleagues.
12.30pm. I have lunch at my desk. It’s normally very simple - a sandwich or a salad.
1pm. In the afternoon, we have our daily stand-up. This involves the whole options team, including the traders, quants and the back-end and front-end developers. It’s another brief catch-up to discuss what we’re planning for the next few hours.
1.30pm. I continue working on my trading algorithms. My main delivery time is between 9am and 3pm. Either side of that, I am typically trading, in meetings discussing the options market, trading strategies and the business, or dealing with more managerial issues and business related cases.
3pm. I hop on quick calls with colleagues from different functions, for example the data team to discuss our data feeds. Successful systematic trading strategies rely on good data, so it’s important to make sure we have data that will differentiate us from our peers. I also meet with the finance team to discuss our PnL and risk.
3.30pm. I’m back to working on my trading algorithms and monitoring their performance.
5pm. I have a meeting with our US traders to discuss the market and our book.
7pm. I usually stop work. My time is quite flexible – there are days that I start early or finish late. On a good day, I usually finish around 7pm although 6pm finishes aren’t unheard of when I have something planned. Once in a while, I work later - sometimes until 10pm or midnight.
My work is very interesting, so I always feel the day goes quickly. I enjoy working at a major global trading firm, developing the cryptocurrency options market. The team at B2C2 provides excellent support to help me succeed. My past working experience on foreign exchange and fixed income options has proved very useful in this role - my FX background in particular, due to the similarities in market conventions to crypto - have made it a smooth and natural move for me. The systematic strategies in TradFi are transferable to crypto, although there are some crypto-specific issues to take into account, for example the high volatility and vol of vol, the lack of liquidity in comparison to the TradFi options market, and the impact of DeFi products on the market such as DOVs - Defi Options Vaults.
8pm. I exercise quite a bit in the evenings. I used to do the tango but am now into traditional Chinese dance. I’m part of a troupe that recently gave a performance in Abu Dhabi.
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