What do the different teams at Akuna do and work together?
At Akuna we have three main technical teams which are our Quant team, our Trading team and our Development team. A general overview of the workflow at Akuna is that the Trading team utilizes our proprietary trading systems to trade on the market, dynamically tuning parameters throughout the day to effectively maximise our profit while maintaining our risk. The Quant team works on researching how to improve our current strategies and valuations based on what they and the traders are observing in the market. The Development team then works on maintaining and improving the software and hardware which goes into our proprietary trading systems as well as the applications used internally by our teams. As a quantitative developer I work in the intersection of the Quant and Development team. This usually means working on a variety of projects ranging from helping incorporate the research our Quant team do into our valuation methods, to building up packages and frameworks to assist our Quant team in researching improvements to our trading parameters. What I love most about my job is that it allows me to work on a variety of interesting projects and problems, utilise a range of technical skills and work with different people in all of our teams.
What is your story?
I was originally born in Sri-Lanka then moved to England at the age of two where I lived until I moved to Perth, Western Australia, at the age of eight. As a child I always loved problem solving and mathematics, so when I was introduced to competitive programming by my maths teacher in year nine, I was instantly hooked by the type of problems it introduced. It was through competitive programming that I developed a passion for algorithmic problem solving, which I continued to pursue for the remainder of high school through the Australian Informatics Olympiad program. After graduating in 2018, I moved to Sydney to study computer science and maths at UNSW. At university I continued pursuing my passion for algorithmic problem solving by tutoring university data structures and algorithms courses and helping to run training sessions for the ACM ICPC Programming Competition. Midway through second year, my friend Clement who was interning at Akuna told me to apply there. After chatting with him and doing some research online it was clear that Akuna would be the perfect fit for me due to its fast growth, small Sydney office and the interesting problems it presented. I managed to make it through the interview process then interned as a Quantitative Development Intern in the summer of 2019-2020 and have been working as an intern with Akuna ever since as I finish off my studies.
What does Akuna do?
Akuna is an options market making firm, meaning that we are always willing to take both sides of the market and therefore provide liquidity. Normally when people think of trading and investing, they think of buying/shorting a financial instrument, waiting for the price to fluctuate, then closing out their position for a profit. At Akuna, we don’t make money by taking a position. Instead, we aim to buy low and sell high while maintaining a flat position to make money on the spread. Akuna is the most rapidly growing firm in the options market making space and the Sydney office especially has experienced immense growth in the last few years. This provides new hires a great opportunity to take on responsibility with the projects they work on as well as the opportunity to tackle new and difficult problems constantly. Working at Akuna means being surrounded by the brightest minds who are all willing to collaborate and share knowledge, meaning that you are always learning and upskilling. You can also learn through our internal wiki which serves as a platform for employees around the globe to share their knowledge and discoveries, as well as through AkunaU’s which are employee presentations on a variety of topics. Akuna’s collaborative environment means that you quickly become mates with a variety of people on different teams, with this social atmosphere encouraged through Akuna’s various internal clubs and regular social events. Akuna manages to perfectly balance fast paced, intellectually stimulating work with a relaxed, social and collaborative work environment which makes it the ideal place to work for me.
Who could succeed in your role?
The main technical skills you need to succeed as a quantitative developer is a combination of mathematical and programming expertise, but most importantly you must be a strong problem solver. You do not necessarily need to have a computer science or mathematics degree evidenced by the fact that Akuna hires people from a wide range of degrees and backgrounds. You also do not need any finance knowledge before working at Akuna as everything related to trading and markets is taught on the job through facilities like our Options 101 course, the Akuna internal wiki and Akuna U’s. Working at Akuna means having to deal with difficult problems in a fast- paced environment which requires strong problem-solving skills as well as a passion to learn and ask questions. To succeed as a quantitative developer, you need to combine these skills with expertise in software development and statistical analysis in order to be able to leverage our proprietary systems and large datasets effectively.
My main advice for anyone currently considering working at Akuna is to ensure that you thoroughly prepare for your technical interviews but also know why you want to work at Akuna. Akuna is always looking for smart, driven problem solvers who are passionate in the work that Akuna does, so if you can show an interviewer that then you have a good shot. More generally I would say: