Trading lessons

Written by Latha Ramchand on April 11, 2011

On Saturday, April 9, 2011, the Bauer College hosted the CME Group Commodity Trading Challenge – Open Outcry Competition.  The event brings student teams from colleges around the country to compete in an open outcry competition buying and selling commodities.

A panel discussion of traders and energy experts kicked off the event.  The discussion was interesting and generated questions regarding the lessons to be learnt from the trading floor.  From understanding the economic impact of news events to the ability to communicate the right message, the panel highlighted the skills required of energy traders.  One discussant summarized the most critical skill learnt in the process viz. decision making under chaos.  With perfect hindsight and with the luxury of time, decision making becomes an academic exercise.  The ability to sift information from noise, to make quick decisions in an environment when information rapidly changes and to communicate and explain these decisions, even if hindsight proves them wrong – really these are traits needed for success in any area, not just trading.  Whether it is energy traders on the pit of the exchange or army commanders on the field in a war zone, or executives dealing with crises ranging from Deepwater to the contamination after the nuclear fallout resulting from a tsunami, these skills are valuable.  The more we can incorporate these into a curriculum both inside and outside the classroom, the better prepared our graduates will be.

Think of this as you go through your daily routine – do you, at the end of the day think back on your actions and take stock – how often do you regret your decisions and if so, were they avoidable? Is there a pattern and what are the lessons learnt?  Much learning can come out of this exercise.