UChicago team takes first in Midwest Trading Competition

A team of UChicago undergraduates placed first among 25 teams in the April 9 UChicago Midwest Trading Competition, in which elite students from across the country displayed their financial acumen and computer coding skills in algorithmic trading exercises.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for students,” said Kim Picciola, associate director of UChicago Careers in Business, which coordinated the fourth annual event at the Chicago Innovation Exchange in Hyde Park.

Not only do students get “hands-on experience in creating algorithms” that can make trading decisions, Picciola said, but they spend the weekend networking with executives from elite financial services firms who sponsor the event. The sponsors get opportunities to meet the next generation of quantitative finance superstars.

“We have students come from all over the country,” Picciola said, and this year the entries had to be limited to 100 students. At least one student on each team had to be able to program in Java so the team could develop its algorithms for the competition.

Third- and fourth-year students in the UChicago Careers in Business: Financial Markets program wrote the three case problems, which competitors received in advance so they could design and test their programs. The competition measured not only technical programming skills but also the ability to make adjustments to the algorithm during the event.

The overall winners were the UChicago team of third-years Frank Luan and Daisy Ding, fourth-year George Gui and second-year Zhen Lin. They also took second in the Cross-Listed Shares Trading case.

Another UChicago team tied for second place in Options Market-Making. It consisted of second-years Joe Fennessey and Yuta Kakutani and first-years Jigar Shah and Abhimanyu Deora. 

Other schools competing included Baruch College, Carnegie Mellon University, Darmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, St. Lawrence University, University of California-Davis, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Illinois, University of Southern California and.Washington University in St. Louis.

Sponsors held networking events the Friday before the competition, as well as a post-competition dinner for the top three teams and the first-place winners of each case. Some sponsors had a chance to observe the competition and talk with students during breaks or over lunch.

Altogether, the competition received sponsorship from 16 firms, several of which have an international presence in the trading field.

“It’s really about bringing the students together with firms that need their unique talents and skills,” Picciola said.