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Louise McGuigan

ETF Trader, Susquehanna International Group

Degree subject BA Theoretical Physics (2004); PhD Experimental Physics (2008), Trinity College Dublin
Job title ETF Trader
Employer Susquehanna International Group

After the theory of my PhD I wanted to work somewhere dynamic and real-world based. I got my job via a recruitment agency and was interviewed by senior traders from the floor. I had three interviews which were all very maths based, with an emphasis on problem-solving.

SIG is an American company with a focus on options trading (equity and index). It’s a young company – the average age of traders is around 26 – and the Dublin office (the European branch) has expanded enormously in the two years I’ve worked here. There are five different trading desks and we trade commodities, energy, index futures, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) including equity based, currency based, debt based and commodity based funds, on European stock exchanges.

The markets open at 8.00 am and most people are in by 7.30 am. I love the buzz of the trading floor. Each trader is in charge of a number of products out of our ‘universe’ of funds. It’s our job is to price up these funds. We’re in daily contact with fund providers (who manage the holdings of the ETF) and we use the fund holdings along with live market data to price the ETFs. We then go ‘into the market’ and put out a market for all our products.

Poker is very analogous to trading – weighing up probabilities, managing risk – and plays an integral part of the training graduates receive here. There is also great scope for development and creativity, which you might not expect; as traders we’re given a lot of freedom. If I spot an area that’s worth exploiting I’ll look into it and may suggest to my desk manager that we trade it.

Advice for graduates

It can be very fast-paced here on days when the markets are going crazy. What I’ve learned during my time here is to be dynamic – the rules of the game can change – products and procedures you believe are cast iron can suddenly alter very quickly.

Louise McGuigan was interviewed for gradireland Finance 2012.