Fri. May 24th, 2024

When people think of stock traders, they often think of the men and women who buy and sell stocks from their living rooms over the internet. In reality, however, most professional market participants spend their days in a full-time capacity on behalf of an organization. Many of these companies are located in Hong Kong and have been around for decades or even centuries.  

Although a few established names dominate the industry regarding business revenue and public recognition, it’s essential to understand this field’s diverse array of disciplines. 

Institutional sales and trading 

Sales and trading is the most traditional form of investment banking. It involves patrons, or clients, who approach a financial services business to acquire or dispose of an asset. Patrons are looking for financing in the case of earning assets, while they often seek risk mitigation or capital reduction when selling assets.  

Professional traders are responsible for conducting research on behalf of their patrons, developing ideas about how market prices will behave under specific scenarios, and then taking action to complete transactions at agreed-upon prices with other professional traders. This occurs both over-the-counter (OTC) or via exchanges like Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX).  

The difference between OTC markets and exchanges is significant because OTC markets are unregulated while exchanges are controlled by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). These transactions occur at agreed-upon prices and are conducted in units of one million HKD because it’s the maximum amount of money that can be transferred between two parties without reporting or other regulatory requirements. 

Algorithmic trading 

Algorithmic traders use algorithmic trading to generate orders automatically throughout market sessions without human intervention. These algorithms aim to identify price anomalies, potentially lucrative investment opportunities and manage portfolios accordingly. Algorithmic trading often considers multiple technical indicators, including volume, momentum oscillators like MACD, Bollinger Bands®, etc., prevailing interest rates like Fed Funds, and even interest rates in other countries that impact the value of a currency.  

One challenge professional traders face is how to design an algorithm that can work across different timeframes like daily, hourly, and minutely. Of course, because this happens automatically without human intervention, it can lead to catastrophes like trading costs or failed trades if something goes wrong. 

High-frequency trading (HFT) 

High-Frequency Trading is characterized by brief holding periods and high turnover ratios. HFT occurs when electronic algorithmic programs utilize automated models to trade enormous orders on low latency networks while maintaining extremely tight bid/ask spreads at frequencies measured in milliseconds or microseconds.  

This strategy seeks to execute hundreds or thousands of trades per day that are indiscriminate market direction. By trading large volumes at highly tight spreads, HFT traders can profit from the market impact of their orders, which is often measured in fractions of a penny per share. 

Fundamental analysis and value investing 

Unlike quantitative analysis, fundamental analysis uses qualitative data points to assess value. Many institutional investors favour this form of trading because there are no minimum trade requirements, allowing them to be more flexible with risk management and portfolio construction. 

Professionals attribute this strategy’s popularity to the 2009-2010 financial crisis when quantitative models failed badly and almost caused a complete collapse of the entire global economy. The primary goal for this type of investor is capital preservation rather than maximizing investment returns. This type of trading is based on a portfolio manager’s judgment to decide which stocks to pick rather than you having to depend on mathematical models. 

Global macro trading 

This discipline seeks to follow the global economy and forecast how it will affect financial markets such as currencies, interest rates, commodities, etc. One example of this strategy in action was during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. It acted almost like a barometer for predicting potential economic calamity and forced many traders to liquidate their portfolios before prices plummeted prematurely.  

An advantage of trading with global macro strategies is that they require little oversight and can be left unattended by the investor because there are no limits or restrictions for transactions happening within the market. These trades are typically designed to act over the long term and are not influenced by daily price swings. 

Are you looking for more information? You can get it here.