Avichal: too-many-distractions

Avichal is observant and sat next to me for months. Therefore I value his judgment. Avichal is the first to point out I was too distracted.

For now, I won’t go into details on his specific remarks. I will simply use this simple pointer to start a new “thread”…

— I think the biggest distraction at that time was my son.

I once (never mind when) told grandpa that I want to devote 70% of my energy to my job (and 20% to my son), but now whenever I wanted to settle down and deep dive into my work, I feel the need and responsibility to adjust my schedule and cater to my son. and try to entice him to study a little bit more.

My effort on my son is like Driving uphill with the hand-brake on.

As a result, I couldn’t have a sustained focus.

advantage@old_techie: less2lose]race !!江郎才尽

See also age40-50career peak..really@@stereotype,brainwash,,

At my age now than younger years, the long-term consequence/impact of a PIP-type event is less severe less destructive, including the blow to long-horizon self confidence. Reason? That long-horizon isn’t that long for me as for the younger competitors on the rise. Imagine on a new job you struggle to clear the bar

  • in figure-things-out speed,
  • in ramp-up speed,
  • in independent code-reading…
  • in delivery speed
  • in absorbency,
  • in level of focus
  • in memory capacity — asking the same questions over and over.
  • in dealing with ambiguity and lack of details
  • in dealing with frequent changes

As a 30-something, You would feel terrified, broken, downcast, desperate .., since you are supposed to be at your prime in terms of capacity growth. A research quoted by CNA[3] found that younger members of the workforce were significantly more stressed than older workers. You would worry about “passed my peak” way too early, and facing a prolonged decline … 江郎才尽.

In contrast, an older techie like me starts the same race in a new team, against a lower level of expectation [1] and have less to prove, so I can compete while carrying less baggage.

A related advantage — some (perhaps mediocre) older techies have gone through a lot of ups and sowns, so we have some wisdom. The other side of the coin — we could fall in the trap of 刻舟求剑.

Manager and cowokers naturally have a lower expectation of older techies. Grandma’s wisdom — she always remind me that I don’t have to always benchmark myself against younger team members. In some teams, I can follow her advice.

Any example? Bill Pinsky, Paul and CSY of RTS?

[1] WallSt contract market

[3] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/how-to-cope-burn-out-work-demands-stress-tired-office-11496502?cid=h3_referral_inarticlelinks_24082018_cna

max salary: simple game-plan

The strategy — “Whether I ask for a big base or modest base, there’s a chance I may have problem with manager expectation. So let’s just go for the max salary and forget about learning/tsn

    • algo trading? tend to pay a premium, but I wonder how they assess my trec.
    • java/c++ combo role? will Not pay lower
    • Some quant skill? tend to pay a premium
    • If a HFT shop makes a real offer at S$150k base I will decline — no real upside for me. Similarly, if a quant dev job pays $170k base I will decline — the promised accu (across jobs) is a big mirage. Accu can happen within a single job, but so is the technical accu on a single job.

Max-salary game plan must not ignore :

  • correlation between salary and expectation — as observed in some past jobs but not in every lucrative role. My Barclays and 95G roles were great.
  • the stigma, damagedGoods and high expectations in Stirt and Macq…. Ashish’s view — just earn the money for 6 months and leave if not happy.
  • commute
  • reputation risk at the major banks.

Am i still a survivor? I would say YES in OC and GS, and yes in Macq based on the internal transfer offer.

Mithun suggested — Are we traumatized/scarred and fixated on the stigma? I said the same to Deepak CM.

Realistically ideal next SG job: neglected factors

Essential factors discussed elsewhere: Reasonable coworker benchmark (within my grasp); Reasonable boss, salary, commute…

Here are Some of the neglected factors:

  • Ideally: enough spare time in office —- for blogging and tech exploration, AFTER I clear the initial hump.
    • wordpress access —- may be a temptation for distraction
  • Mainstream and low-churn tech —- like java, c++, py. In contrast GO, javascript, .. would create discontent and other negativity in me.
  • ideally: Mainstream dnlg —- to keep me engaged for a few months. Hopefully some math some low-level complexities
  • too much monotonous, mindless work, could get me disengaged intellectually. Rare. Any past examples? OC approval-seeking
  • gym in office —- could really make a difference
  • culture of knowledge sharing
  • respect for attention to details, but MY type of details (vague)

salary has smallest impact@family well-being

Nowadays I often feel 20k lower salary doesn’t affect my self-esteem or family well-being. In contrast, stigma/respect/coworkerBenchmark, job market depth, workload, commute,,, have bigger impact on family well-being.

Holding too tight on a trophy salary or trophy “brank” can breed real strain in family well-being. Holding-tight seems to boost self-esteem but is actually self-glorification in disguise, which put heavy strain on my self-esteem in GS, Stirt, Macq.

–salary bench-marking

Self-esteem is affected by salary bench-marking to some extent, but stigma has heaviest impact on self-esteem.

Those websites showing salary bench-marking are poisonous. Admittedly, we do need to collect some benchmark data to ensure we are paid fairly, but most people care too much about the benchmark.

techShop-plan: rare opp2try tech start-ups

The Sg2019 presents a rare opportunity to work for such a firm and gain some insight how they select candidates.

Salary might be slightly lower like 150k vs 180k@SCB, but i think it’s completely fine, until we (irrationally) compare to some peers.

The inherent risk of stigma (damagedGood, PIP..) are lower since I’m older and newer, bringing down the expectation. I would feel like Michael Jordan joining baseball.

##FX/eq projects ] PWM, for SG IV

—-fx or eq
* Swing app to monitor multiple live database tables and auto-refresh upon new quotes/trades and position updates.
* Post-trade Affirmation for complex derivative deals. A workflow application. Operations verify deal attributes by phone and Affirm on the deal to send out trade confirm.
* Statistical feed “blender” (with multiple purposes), needed to remove outliers among diverse indicative eFX forward quotes. Outliers tend to mess up our auto pricers, tiered pricers and cross rate pricers.
* (Ledger balance?) PnL report. Nightly batch to apply marks on option positions and compute PnL. Reports both clients and firm accounts.
* Volatility surface fitter for FX (& equity index/single-names). Volatility smile curve fitter. Quote inversion. Option position mark-to-market, driven by live quotes from multiple live eFX markets.
* Workflow engine for Error trade reconciliation/chargeback. A single error ticket can compute PnL and chargeback across multiple (up to 100) error trades and cover trades. Every quarter, this engine reconciles hundreds of error trade whose total values add up to millions of dollars.

* Deal entry screen for trade booking after a retail dealer executes over phone. If trade validation fails, we notify the dealer to amend and resubmit. Same swing app is also used by spot/swap/options dealers to book voice trades.
system? data normalization to take care of splits and dividends
system? basic back testing of simple strategies
system? re-sampling

* (EOS) web-based trade/order entry, with multiple validations. Used primarily by investment advisers across Americas, Europe and Asia. Thousands (up to 5-figure) of orders received daily.
** showing real time bid/ask from GS + bid/ask from trading venues
** supports most order types — limit/market/FOK/IOC/SL

* swing-based real time order book display. Updates to displayed order books come from the backend OMS via real time messaging.
* Also contributed to the OMS backend. Orders originate exclusively from private bank clients. We then monitor their cancels/amends and execution reports (via firm-wide messaging hub) from exchanges, ECN and GS private liquidity pool. Total message volume up to 6 figures.

We are the interface to multiple ECNs to 1) receive quotes, enrich and publish to PWM clients 2) forward client orders to ECN in 2-leg spread trades 3) execute trades received from ECN 4) generate and validate (against tri-arb) cross rates using ECN quotes. Also contributed to auto quoters and RFQ engine. Supervised and monitored the progress of high-frequency eFX applications. Performed eFX development activities such as requirement gathering, design, testing and deployment. Personal contributions included
* Tiered quote pricer. Each FX customer falls into one of the tiers. When a currency pair updates in our pricer, all registered clients would get a new quote (??delivered to their Financial Advisors??). Silver tier clients receive a better bid/ask spread than regular clients; Gold tier gets the best quote.
* eFX rate update/distribution engine to downstream real time risk, PnL, position marking systems
* eFX option real time risk report (unfinished). Option position risk calc is rather slow, so each user selects a limited number of positions into his watch-list. Watched positions get periodically updated based on live ECN rates to show real-time risk.
* (questionable project) Compute cross rates for PWM trades that are large, recurring and involving illiquid currencies. Cross rates computation from daily close USD buy/sell rates.
— blender
http://www.olsendata.com/fileadmin/Publications/Tech_Papers/FXBlenderDoc_01.pdf (C:\0x\xz_ref)
outliers are particularly damaging to market making systems.
input – transaction prices and indicative quotes
output – only indicative quotes

— cross rate calculator

What we compute are backdated cross rates. PWM (non-trading) client agrees on a currency conversion AAA/BBB. She agrees on AAA amount, and wait for a few hours/days to get the actual BBB amount, just like cross currency credit card payment —

MasterCard exchange rates are based on multiple market sources (such as Bloomberg, Reuters, Central Banks, and others). These rates are collected during our daily rate setting process. The exchange rates displayed on the web site are derived from the buy and sell rates included in the MasterCard daily T057 Currency Conversion Rate File.

MasterCard applies the USD as unique reconciliation currency to manage all currency conversions globally. Due to possible rounding differences, the published calculated cross-rates may not precisely reflect the actual rate applied to the transaction amount when converting to the cardholder billing amount. The calculated cross-rates will be loaded onto the MasterCard web site on a daily basis.

MasterCard applies the exchange rate to transactions at the time of settlement, not at the point of authorization of the sale.

–ECN interface
(my code doesn’t use FIX. Our volume is lower. conversion from FIX to xml is encapsulated in a library)

FXAall, Currenex, Hotspot, TradeWeb , Bloomberg. Example applications:
* auto quoters
* price feeds
* market data feeds
* post trade feeds
* execution gateways

%%tsn dream: largely constrained by risks

My tsn dream=largely constrained by risks

  • stigma/respect
  • figure things out faster than colleagues

For these specific risks, my current risk tolerance is 2% higher so I can be bolder, but the blow of a stigma is still rather heavy.

Note these risks exist with/without tsn. If we want to minimize these risks we need to find a low-calibre team like RTS, or OC (95G?), sometimes low-salary team

lower workload ⇏ quality free time #family

Lower workload CAN mean

… more time for kids + workout, but can also mean

… more time wasted .. burn/rot

The free time saved due to lower workload is often spent on reflective blogging… controversial

A great example of quality free time is the Bayonne -> MS commute in 2018/2019. For a few weeks I was able to do coding drill on commute, despite the segmented commute. For a few months I was doing /productive/ git-blogging

reasons to limit tcost@SG job hunt #XR

XR said a few times that it is too time consuming each time to prepare for job interviews. The 3 or 4 months he spent has no long-term value. I immediately voiced my disagreement because I took IV fitness training as a lifelong mission, just like jogging or yoga or chin-up.

This view remains as my fundamental perspective, but my disposable time is limited. If I can save the time and spend in on some meaningful endeavors  [1] then it’s better to have a shorter job hunt.

[1] Q: what endeavors?
A: yoga
A: diet
A: stocks? takes very little effort
A: ?

##family safety enhancers: next sg job#respect[def]

see predict next 3-5Y job satisfaction #engaging

see what determined7past job satisfaction #nextSgJob

Conclusion: As of Apr 2018 the top 2 enhancers are

  1. respect — more than “thank-you-for-trying” appreciation
  2. MktDepth — market depth
  3. –others…
  4. comp? important to satisfaction but not really important to “safety”
  5. engagement? important to satisfaction then-n-there but not really important to safety

CV-competition: Sg 10x tougher than U.S.

Sg is much harder, so … I better focus my CV effort on the Sg/HK/China market.

OK U.S. job market is not easy, but statistically, my CV had a reasonable hit rate (like 20% at least) because

  • contract employers don’t worry about my job hopper image
  • contract employers have quick decision making
  • some full time hiring managers are rather quick
  • age…
  • Finally, the number of jobs is so much more than Sg


[19]C#job #AshS

See also enough c# mileage accummulated@@ and exposure: semi-automatic(shallow)Accu #$valuable contexx

As I told XR, a C# job offers opportunity for steeper growth curve, and higher chance of learning something useful [1]. It could provide another boost to my c++/java zbs.

As I told XR, some c++ shops are on VC++, and I am rather weak on windows and MSVS.

[1] In contrast, a regular c++ (and esp. java) job might hit a plateau of slow growth and diminishing return.

Therefore, c# job sounds more “strategic”. Strategic is not about long-term career development, but about engaging. With something “strategic” I might be more engaged, but I might lose the interest in X months too.

–Ashish’s team specifically

  • 🙂 Good chance of appreciation. Ashish isn’t as strong as Kevin.
  • 🙂 smaller codebase
  • 🙂 bitcoin trec (+shallow dnlg) will be a new addition to my /repertoire/ on my profile
  • 🙂 no risk of reputation damage at a big bank

3gradual changes]SG job market #cautious optimism

  1. c++ (and c#) is /conceding/ market share to java, partly due to the two categories above. Apparently, java is growing more dominant than before. I guess java is more proven, better supported, by a bigger ecosystem and have bigger talent pool. In contrast, c++ skill is harder to find in Singapore?
    1. Overall good news for me since my java arm is still stronger than c++ arm
  2. remote hiring — more Singapore teams are willing to hire from overseas. Lazada said “mostly over skype”
  3. Many non-finance companies now can pay 150k base or higher for a senior dev role. In my 2015 job search, I didn’t find any
  4. Many smaller fintech companies (not hedge funds) can pay 150k base or higher
  5. contracts becoming slightly more common
  6. lighter-blue-collar — programmer used to be blue-collar support staff for the revenue staff. Some of the companies listed above treat programmers as first-class citizens.

Reality warning — every time I try the SG job market, recruiters would tell me there are so many “new” employers or new markets, but invariably, i need to focus on the old guards .. mostly ibanks, as the new market is not open to me. This is similar to Deepak, Shanyou trying the wall St c++ job market.

I must stop /romanticizing/ about the “improvement” in SG job market.

  • Singapore tech shops are mostly not keen about my profile. U.S.? Not sure.
  • Singapore fintech shops ? zero interest shown, even when I asked 150k
  • Singapore buy-sides are interested but way too selective and kinda slow.
  • Note except GS I didn’t try the ibank jobs this time round.

Basically no change in the landscape since 2015. The jobs available to me are mostly ibanks. Cherish the MLP job but beware attachment. If this job goes sour, I would have to consider WallSt, rather than another perm job in SG.

##[19] Beat Sg2011Search

  • reason: I’m now open to java
  • reason: I’m now open to non-finance
  • reason: I will only work in SG for 1.5 years till 2021 spring, so not that much at stake.
  • reason: my USD salary is much lower.
  • tactic: will accept 140k jobs without complaint
  • tactic: will seriously target a few fertile grounds — FX, mkt data…
  • tactic: will seriously prepare for architect roles
  • tactic: will fly back for job interviews
  • reason: c++/algo body-building showing

expertise demand]sg: latency imt quant/hft

Q: which skill in Singapore looks to grow in terms of salary, and less importantly, # of jobs
A: latency,

Q: which fields in S'pore has a skill shortage based on your recent observations
A: possibly latency. not so obvious in quant field. There are many real quants in Singapore. Generic c++/java is no shortage.

Q: which fields in S'pore present entry barrier in terms of tech?
A: thread, latency, data structure mastery (eg: iterator invalidation); green_field_ground_up design in general; high volume market data sys design in particular;

Q: which fields in S'pore present entry barrier in terms of domain knowledge?
A: FX (…..), P/Y conversion, duration, IRS pricing, bare bones concepts of a lot of major derivatives
A: I feel a lot of employers want relevant biz experience. That experience is a few weeks (or months) of on the job learning, but (the lack of) it does cast a long shadow.

strength/weakness ] sg dev talent pool

+++ core trading engine green field development, not just maintenance
+++ [d] java keywords and syntax nitty gritty
+++ [d] threading, data structure, STL
+++ [d] integration of MOM, dispatchers, queues, threads in a high volume design
+++ java and c++
+++ sybase
+++ [d] DB tuning
+++ unix
+++ bond math
+++ tibrv
+++ complex query
+ concurrent package
+ [d] low latency techniques + theory
+ swing
+ java mem mgmt
+ pre-trade quote pricing
+ trade execution, order matching
+ marking, pnl
+ design patterns

– greeks
– unix tuning for low latency
– python
— mkt data
— c#. Many candidates have c# and c++

[d = details]

What WallSt xp valued in Singapore

(blog post)

If an IT veteran comes to Singapore job market from silicon valley, he is welcome by Singapore employers, but if he comes from Wall Street, he is more valued.

Singapore positions itself more as a financial center than a technology hotbed. In many arenas, Singapore is playing catch-up with world leaders. Singapore is more successful pushing to the forefront in oil, air transportation, freight logistics (best sea port), medical services, and financial services, esp. commodities trading.

Singapore is somewhat less successful in electronics (once successful), life science, research, telecom…

A technology hotbed requires more resources — more talent, more research, more funding … than city state Singapore has.

One of the wall st experiences/know-hows needed most is real experience in trading system architecture.

value-add for S’pore financial-IT cluster competitiveness

Let’s say we want to add value to Singapore financial-IT sector’s competitiveness, either in a software house or an in-house dev team on Shenton Way. Look at the competitive landscape described in http://www.zaobao.com/cs/cs070802_509_1.html. What kind of people do these companies have difficulty recruiting?

* insight [1] into building key financial IT systems. In reality, a department often need a single “navigation guide” to help make (a myriad) key decisions including what to avoid. This guide will help recruit and buy other resources.

[1] gained from deep xp

* Generic PM zbs, generic tech zbs, professionalism … are fundamental, but i think easy to find in Singapore. Perhaps there’s no special personal quality for this sector. Perhaps the top 3 make-or-break personal characteristics are similar to other IT sectors such as logistics, telecom, education …

Even without prior dnlg, if you are sensitive, motivating, strong, self-sacrificing, visionary … you will add value to that “cluster-competitiveness”.

* domain knowledge? As a “cluster”, the SG financial IT sector must offer specific expertise such as remittance and those listed on http://www.zaobao.com/cs/cs070802_509_1.html. However, as individuals techies, … I think the dnlg can be acquired in a few weeks to 1 year, and you will be competent even as a team lead. Look at Henk.

* low latency high frequency

* algo trading

Now (2010) i feel generic or entry-level domain knowledge or tech knowledge is not hard to find. Some people say low latency and analytics is now commodity expertise. I don’t agree.

If i need someone to build a billing system, a veteran can guide me to avoid the “good try” routes, but the imperfect design vs the proven design aren’t going to make a huge difference. What about a pricing system? If you don’t have a good guide, maybe you won’t get it done.