International Women's Day

International Women’s Day Highlight: Melissa Krumdick

Melissa Krumdick has worked for Belvedere Trading since the summer of 2016, as an S&P Derivatives Trader. Melissa graduated Summa Cum Laude from The University of Notre Dame, with a Bachelor of Science in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics. When choosing a profession, Melissa knew she wanted something intellectually challenging, rewarding, ever changing, and applicable to her educational background. In honor of International Women’s Day, she shared with us how she found her path at Belvedere Trading, and what advice she has for young women embarking on their career journey.

BT: What were you looking for in your first job after graduation?

MK: Before considering a career in trading, I had three very different internship experiences. I was the project manager of a research team at UCLA, spent a semester working at an ethical hacking company in London, and worked as an actuarial intern in Chicago. Each experience was valuable, but none struck me as what I wanted to do full-time with my degree after graduation. Ultimately, I was looking for an opportunity where I could apply my background in mathematics and statistics to a field that I felt was truly interesting and evolving. It was important to me to find a career path where I could see myself grow both professionally and personally. Finance, and specifically trading, while at the time foreign to me, was the type of exciting challenge that I wanted to explore.

BT: What inspired you to become a trader?

MK: When I was choosing a profession, I was looking for something not only intellectually challenging but also exciting. I wanted to choose a career with enough complexity to afford continuing opportunities, to learn new things, and improve the performance of my team. Having majored in applied mathematics and statistics, I was drawn to the analytical problem solving and quantitative nature inherent to trading, and I’ve found that being a trader on Belvedere’s S&P desk has given me the engaging and meaningful work experience that I wanted.

BT: Describe your role at Belvedere. What skills have you learned from your current position?

MK: I’ve been a trader at Belvedere for about two and a half years now, and I’m currently a trader on our S&P desk. I trade options on the SPY ETF, primarily electronically, and manage the SPY positional risk. Trading trains you to feel confident making quick decisions and to translate these decisions into action. There’s an emphasis on consolidating a lot of information at once and continually updating what you understand about your position as it changes. While quantitative thinking is essential, from assessing the biggest risks in your position to evaluating your past performance, communication skills also play a big role in your overall performance. When trading on a larger team, like the S&P desk, relaying information efficiently and effectively can be crucial.

BT: What do you love most about trading?

MK: I’ve found trading to be a very rewarding profession, with a big emphasis on problem solving and higher-level thinking. Working in what can be a fast paced and challenging environment has given me the tools to make autonomous decisions during the trading day, as well as reflect on my performance and how I can improve after the fact. I’ve continued to learn and be challenged throughout my time at Belvedere, and this type of environment keeps me invested in the performance of my desk.

BT: What makes Belvedere Trading’s recruiting process stand out?

MK: I think Belvedere does a great job giving candidates many opportunities to showcase their skills in a wide variety of ways. I’ve been involved in the recruiting process for the last year, and I’ve learned just how much work is done to make sure we get a comprehensive picture of each candidate and how they could make our team better. There really is an emphasis on Belvedere as a team, and during my interview process, I felt like everyone involved wanted me to have a good experience and feel comfortable meeting people and asking questions.

BT: What advice would you give to a new female grad who is considering a career in a male dominated industry?

MK: Be confident in your abilities. Instead of qualifying your experiences and accomplishments, highlight your merits. I think there can be a tendency for women considering a career in a male dominated industry to feel like they need to justify their inclusion instead of expecting it. Don’t do yourself a disservice by ruling out opportunities in these professions. Inevitably, if you choose such a career, you may find you face obstacles that your male counterparts might not experience. Resist the urge to feel like you need to think and act like the majority to provide value to your team; adding to the diversity really is an asset.

 

 

 

 

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Good Design: A Stitch In Time

Back in the summer of 2015, I interned at Belvedere and assisted with our initiative to deprecate dependencies on third party software by building new electronic order entry applications into Belvedere’s in-house proprietary software. These electronic order entry platforms are known internally as Execution Services or “gateways.” That summer I worked on the gateway for the Bats platform, which provided access to several exchanges that trade options and equities. Fast forward to December of 2017 when, as a full-time Belvedere employee, I was tasked with expanding upon the work I performed as an intern. Cboe, one of Chicago's foremost exchanges, recently acquired Bats and plans to transition all of their electronic trading systems over to the Bats platform. While this is a pretty major change, thanks to reusable code and code generators created by Belvederians that came before me, I was able to complete almost all of the coding in two days. Before we can discuss this design, it's important to understand what gateways do and the complications they face. 

On its surface, order entry is simple and straight-forward. A trader places an order and the exchange "acknowledges" that order. If the order fills or trades immediately,  the exchange will respond with an execution report. An order, if greater than a size of 1, can partial fill or full fill depending on the state of the market. For example, an order to trade 10 contracts can be filled by two orders of 5 contracts (interchangeably referred to as lots as well) or can be filled all at once by an opposing 10 lot order. Orders can also be placed with different time-in-force designations which govern the duration of the order. An IOC or Immediate-or-Cancel order will seek to trade as much quantity as possible up to the placed quantity (e.g. a 10 lot IOC order can fill up to 10 contracts) but will not rest any quantity in the market. A day order will also seek to trade as much quantity as possible that currently exists now up to the placed quantity. But, if it does not get immediately filled by the existing quantity in the market, it will rest that order on the exchange and wait for potential other parties to complete their trade until the market closes for the day. 

As a trader or a trading algorithm (referred to as a client), these market interactions are the main focus of trading strategies. They place an order for a particular asset and quantity, specify a price (or ask the exchange to complete the order at the current market price) and how long the order should be valid. However, while Belvedere trades at over 15 exchanges, each with their own protocols, supported functionality, and rules, the client does not care about any of these nuances. For example, Cboe allows firms to change the side of their open orders while most exchanges do not. In light of this variability, the Belvedere order gateway must provide a consistent interface to the client and abstract out all of the complexities and differences of each exchange’s specifications (similar to the Strategy pattern). 

To make this work, a well-defined contract was implemented between clients and gateways (see below for examples of client-gateway communication). For example, clients want to know after each trade how much has traded in total during the lifetime of the order (known as the cumulative quantity). Bats, which uses its own Binary Order Entry (BOE) protocol, sends this data back on each execution notice, but BOX, or Boston Options Exchange, uses the standard FIX protocol and does not send back the cumulative quantity back on each execution notice. To satisfy the contract, the BOX gateway must keep track of the cumulative quantity on its own and pass this data to the client. 


GatewayInteraction.png

In order to maintain a consistent interface and perform similar actions for varying exchanges, these gateways were carefully designed to limit code duplication and ease addition of any new exchange gateways. Thankfully, both of these requirements were satisfied by maximizing code reuse. Previously, this was accomplished by utilizing inheritance, but lately there has been a transition to composition and reusable components, which limits code coupling and allows for the creation of cleaner systems that share a subset of functionality. Of course, this code also needs to be fast (we measure time to execute on the scale of nanoseconds) and reusing code allows for code to be optimized in a single place and instantaneously applied across the board. 

Additionally, existing gateways must nimbly accept updates to stay up to date when exchanges modify their protocols. Belvedere devised a domain-specific language that is easy to read and write for specifying exchange protocol details. We also built an application that reads in this language and generates code to translate between the exchange protocol (which can be thought of as a string) and C++ structs representing each message between the gateway and exchange. Oh, Bats added a new required field for all orders? All you have to do is write one line of our DSL, run the code generator, then write a single line of C++ to fill out the new field that was added to the generated message struct. Why write code when you can write code that writes your code (yo dawg...)? Unfortunately, our automated tests must still be updated manually after making changes, although this is a small task compared to re-writing everything. 

Order entry gateways perform the seemingly simple task of sending orders to an exchange, but must provide a consistent interface that abstracts out exchange-specific details. By leveraging smart code reuse and automating tedious, error-prone coding, we drastically cut the amount of time required to write new exchange gateways.