Still, there are many women who face these obstacles and inspire others to do so as well. Chiara Lattanzi (27) is a high frequency trader at IMC Trading and is excited about the tempo and challenging nature of her job. “Trading offers the fast-paced, stimulating environment I was looking for.”
We talked to Chiara about her position at IMC, what it’s like to work in a male-dominated field and how her job contributes to her personal and professional development.
The life of a trader
In short, trading is about the buying and selling of financial products in financial markets all across the world. In the past, this used to take place by phone, as you might have seen in Wall Street (1987) or The Big Short (2015). But nowadays, like most things, we use digital methods. As a result, the trading process happens at the speed of light. That’s why we call this kind of trading ‘high frequency trading’.
Chiara, how would you explain your job to a layperson?
“My role as a trader at IMC involves using mathematical models and statistical analysis to make data-driven trading decisions in the financial markets. Another important aspect of my role is to manage trading positions in real time, making adjustments as needed based on market conditions and risk management principles.”
What does that mean precisely? What does a typical workday look like for you?
“I arrive at the office before the market opens to prepare my trading setup and make sure I have eyes on all the real-time information I need to trade. I usually start the day by discussing the news and the overnight flows that could affect the market with my team. When the market opens, that’s when the real action starts!
Not all days are the same for me: some days are dedicated to longer-term projects (either in terms of trading execution or strategy) while other days, I’m more focused on operations, reacting to market movements, thinking about the exposure we want to take, and executing trades accordingly.”
That sounds really diverse and dynamic! Is that what you were looking for when you were applying for a job?
“I spent two years as a financial risk analyst with another firm before joining IMC as a trader. I didn’t know much about the world of high frequency trading, let alone about IMC. I stumbled upon this “brand new world” via the internet. The more I read about it, the more it seemed like the type of job that would really suit my personality as well as my strong interest in statistics, finance, and technology.
The experience I’m gaining in trading is having a profound impact on my professional growth and development. I’m developing in-depth knowledge and expertise of financial markets and their internal dynamics, while also improving my decision making under significant pressure and uncertainty.
It’s teaching me how to be resilient and constantly re-evaluate my work – things change quickly in the financial markets, and past performance isn’t always a predictor of future success. This unique skill set, together with the willingness to keep my learning curve as steep as possible, is certainly helping to accelerate my career in this dynamic and challenging field.”
Trading really suits my personality as well as my strong interest in statistics, finance, and technology
And what about the culture at the office? Is that as diverse and dynamic as the job itself?
“I was looking for a place where I could grow, not only professionally but also from a human perspective. Choosing IMC was a no-brainer as the company culture – especially the focus on collaboration, openness, and taking initiative – resonates very well with me.
What impresses me is the emphasis IMC places on knowledge sharing and collaboration between different teams and offices. It makes the work environment really stimulating: you’re constantly interacting with people from different backgrounds and with different ideas, which boosts both productivity and creativity.”
I would imagine it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Do you encounter any obstacles?
“Trading is a very challenging field. The challenges we face every day on the trading floor are multifaceted and complex – and so are the solutions that we propose to solve them. It requires a combination of mental focus, knowledge, skill, experience, and discipline.
However, it can be a truly rewarding experience because the feedback loop is relatively short and there’s a clear correlation between your efforts and the results of those efforts. It means that if you dedicate yourself to understanding the problems, pushing your limits, and seeking continuous improvement, you’re likely to see positive results in a relatively short period of time.
Added to this, the sense of responsibility you have and the potential to make a real impact early in your career is also highly motivating. The combination of these different factors really pushes me to bring my A-game to the trading floor every day.”
If you dedicate yourself to understanding the problems, pushing your limits, and seeking continuous improvement, you’re likely to see positive results in a relatively short period of time
What do you hope your future looks like?
“I really love the dynamism of the role and the freedom it gives me to pursue my own ideas and projects. I see myself growing in this role and gaining the experience that I need to become a more proficient, versatile trader, and to hopefully one day lead a team on the trading floor.
IMC also offers many opportunities for internal mobility; I’d like to have exposure to different desks or offices across the globe in the near future to gain additional relevant experience and fine-tune my skills.”
Being a woman on the trading floor
A dynamic job where your cognitive abilities are challenged all the time, that might be every ambitious woman’s dream. But like we mentioned before, there are some downsides to a life like that. For years, the number of women working in the financial sector has been around 20%, which means that women have to take into account an abundance of male coworkers.
What’s it like to work alongside so many men? How do you deal with it in practice?
“Undeniably, the trading industry and the broader financial services sector have traditionally been male-dominated. Women have been significantly underrepresented across all functions and firms within the industry. However, efforts are being made across the industry to increase gender diversity and promote equal opportunities.
My advice to women considering pursuing a career in trading is not to let these stereotypes influence your career decisions. Things are changing and, as women, we should feel empowered to be a driver of that change.
Being held back doesn’t help our own development or the overall status quo (“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”). Being an active part of this industry change really motivates me, and I’m sure that seeing more women succeed professionally in this field can pave the way for a more diverse work environment.”
Don’t let these stereotypes influence your career decisions. Things are changing and, as women, we should feel empowered to be a driver of that change
Do IMC (and the trading industry in general) support you in your mission to make the work environment as diverse and inclusive as possible?
“Yes, for example, IMC is implementing a range of strategies to promote female talent in the financial services industry, as part of our efforts to foster an inclusive, diverse, and supportive work environment.
One really nice initiative organized by our Amsterdam office is the Female Talent Program. The program takes place twice a year and aims to encourage women across Europe to get to know the trading industry, focus on their personal development, and build a network with fellow students and mentors. It’s a great opportunity for students to get a real insight into the world of trading by attending workshops and taking part in trading simulations.
Meanwhile, we are committed to several other diversity initiatives, such as sponsoring the European Women in Technology conference taking place in Amsterdam, supporting women’s student associations and making an effort to decrease the bias in our recruitment process.
Furthermore, we are exploring new target areas and universities within Europe, with a higher concentration of female STEM-students. Additionally, our collaboration with assessment providers to address bias in our recruitment process is of great importance. Last year, we conducted an unconscious bias training for our interviewers, underscoring our commitment to equitable hiring practices.”
This interview is part of a paid collaboration with IMC Trading.
Curious about the world of high frequency trading? Or anything to ask a female trader?
Then make sure to join us on wednesday the 27th of september at the Amsterdam office of IMC Trading, for an exclusive edition of Feminer Connect: ‘Trader for a Day’. This night will be all about Women in Trading.