The Exact Moment I Became a Quant Trader

In the mid-2000s, when all the wise people in my life were telling me it was a bad idea, I started day trading.

I had done mounds of research so I was totally prepared to trade my strategy. My days were busy so my trading options were limited, but I was convinced I could make it work.

And it did. I watched for signals, dutifully placed trades in my broker, and patiently waited for them to play out.

I wasn’t making FU money with my strategy, but I had set very realistic goals for myself and I met them.

I could reasonably tell someone I was a “consistently profitable trader” at a social gathering with a straight face and mean it.

For the next few years, I focused on improving my strategy, scaling up my position size, growing my account, and learning as much as I could.

The intuition I developed over these years was incredibly valuable and couldn’t possibly be distilled into a set of rules to backtest.

And I believed that with every ounce of my being.

Meanwhile, at AT&T where I was working at the time, there were oodles of manual processes and as a systems guy, all I could see was inefficiency. Everywhere.

I was automating the crap out of every process I could, and becoming a dang good programmer as I was doing it.

Could I apply what I was learning about automation to my trading strategy? Maybe.

But the nuances of it and my discretion were the key to my strategy’s success. Perhaps I could cobble together a crude backtest for my strategy, but could I create something that would improve upon it? Impossible.

Or so I thought.

I finally decided “Why not?” I’d learn a ton just creating the backtest and I’d likely learn something to eventually apply to my manual strategy.

So I coded it up, ran the backtest, and exported the trades to Excel.

It took less than 5 minutes of very rudimentary analysis in Excel to realize my precious trading discretion was not nearly as precious as I thought.

It actually sucked compared to my very first backtest.

From that moment on I knew was a quant trader.

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