Quant trader on £1m says he can't work in machine learning
Damien Couture, the French quant trader hired by Jump Trading in 2015 on a £1m guaranteed bonus aged circa 29 years-old, says it's unreasonable to presume that he might apply his talents to pure machine learning.
Couture wants to move to hedge fund Verition. However, he's being thwarted in that intention by Jump's two year non-compete, which he's currently challenging in court. Couture's lawyer is arguing that it's "fanciful" for his client to spend his two years out of the market working in academia or machine learning. "His expertise is in finance, his degree is in finance and finance is the industry where he has spent the last 15 years,” the lawyer says.
It may be true that Couture isn't the best candidate for a machine learning job outside of finance. And yet, machine learning professionals with no experience of finance are moving the other way.
Last November, for example, Michael Brenner, a former data science engineer and machine learning expert at Motorola, moved to DV Trading in Chicago as a quant researcher. And in January 2022, Point72 hired Julian Antolin, a former research fellow in AI at the Army Research Laboratory as an applied AI researcher in Connecticut.
Vasyl Harasymiv, a former JPMorgan executive director in New York says this is an apt moment for quant traders to take time out and improve their machine learning skills. "Asset managers, quant trading shops and hedge funds are on the hunt for the new breed of quant traders that come specifically from a machine learning background," says Harasymiv.
Harasymiv himself says he left JPMorgan last year to work on his own machine learning model. 18 months on, he claims to have a created a profitable strategy using a transformer neural network to replicate Renaissance Technologies' Medallion Fund. While Harasymiv's claims aren't validated, they suggest that if Couture spent a few years' becoming an expert on machine learning before moving to Verition, it wouldn't be the end of the world.
Meanwhile, while Couture's Verition move is on hold, the fund is still adding portfolio managers in London. In October, it recruited both Jarman Rusing, a former FX trader at BNP Paribas and Jon Pierce, the former global head of voice spot trading at Credit Suisse.
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