"My days as a trainee crypto trader"
Christopher Newhouse is a graduate trader at GSR, a crypto-native market maker focused on providing liquidity to institutional counterparts as well as market making for individual token projects. He started about a month ago with a graduate class of 7, and was the only hire in the US this year for the graduate trader position. After some initial training in London, he's now on the desk and this is what his average day looks like.
6:00 - 8:00 AM: I wake up around 6:00, make a quick breakfast and head to the gym. I usually shower and get ready at the gym so I can just take the bus right to the office. GSR has a hybrid working model so occasionally people work from home on Monday and Friday. It’s great to have the flexibility to choose when to come into the office, but I try to come to the office as much as possible being junior in my career. I’ve really appreciated being able to turn around in my chair and have a conversation with others, and I like being able to walk over to my buddy's desk and shadow him during the day while I learn some of the day-to-day operations.
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM: When I get to work I catch up with some co-workers, grab something from the kitchen and take a look at some of the systems and chats to see what happened overnight. GSR has traders in all different time-zones, so it’s pretty easy to transition our day-to-day tasks over to the next time-zone and we don't need to work beyond our local hours. I take a look at some news articles but in crypto it’s a bit different; I scroll through some popular Twitter pages to see if anything interesting has happened in the ecosystem and read some news about a few tokens that haven’t been published officially yet but that seem to have impacted price action. I scroll through some additional news related Telegram chats, and check up on crypto-native news sources such as The Block and CoinDesk for more of a broad picture. I try to focus a lot on the derivatives and options space in crypto since I find that to be the most interesting, so I also look at some more traditional metrics like term-structure and skew of cryptocurrency options and think about some ways traders may be trying to structure their views in the options market to get more color on where people may think the market may be heading.
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM: We have a weekly global catch up call to figure out some of our strategies heading forward and to recap what sort of projects we’re working on. It’s great to be able to hear the other projects underway and the views of other traders on where the market might be moving.
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: I’m typically performing my day-to-day operational activities which include quoting clients for spot trades, pricing options for derivative traders, monitoring our risk systems to note if anything seems out of whack, and settling liquidators and accumulators. Occasionally I’ll make adjustments to trade bookings that need to be amended, execute trades for clients, and continue to monitor and adapt to the crypto-markets to make sure the team is aware of any interesting flows or on-going trades.
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: We are a market maker for several DeFi option vaults. On Fridays I help my, Buddy, Embert, quote and price a variety of options listed by some of the DeFi option vaults. We keep track of where vaults have previously traded as well as size and take this into account when we are quoting and trying to win the vaults. Any flow we win from the vaults I make sure to book and I then deploy our automated hedging engines to monetize.
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM: GSR has free daily lunch for those in the office. I order my lunch early in the morning and it arrives sometime around here. I typically just eat at my desk and scan through any interesting news or updates on Twitter, Telegram, and popular crypto-news sites to see if anything interesting is happening.
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM: When there’s downtime and day-to-day operational activities kind of die down, I read a few books suggested to me by Mike and John, two of our traders in Europe. The books cover Vanilla and Exotic options, and I’m able to ask them any questions I have over Slack. GSR isn’t a place that throws you right into the fire or has a ton of intimidating people, everyone is on the same team and knows that the learning curve is steep and everyone is willing to help you get up to speed.
2:30 - 3:00 PM: I have catch-up calls with a few traders since I’m still new and introducing myself globally. I enjoy getting to hear more about the kind of backgrounds people have before they end up in the crypto-space and why they chose crypto. GSR has a ton of knowledge and experience on the traditional side of things, but everyone here has a passion and interest for crypto. GSR definitely has a feel of a more crypto-native culture rather than a bank. Some of our traders even wear shorts in the office which from what I’ve been told doesn’t really happen at a bank. We have traders in a variety of different time-zones, so work life balance is great, and the environment seems to be a lot more exciting and fast-paced than from what I’ve heard from my friends at the banks.
3:00 PM - 3:30 PM: A client asks for a quote on a few different alt-coin options. GSR specializes in pricing and monetizing alt-coin options, which is where we differ a bit from some of the other crypto-native brokerages and shops: we don’t just quote Bitcoin and ETH options, but some more esoteric alt-coin options as well. We use proprietary models and pricing mechanisms, and we end up quoting the client and winning the trade. We book and hedge the trade, and allow our gamma scalping engines to monetize the option.
3:30PM - 4:30 PM: I have taken the lead on summarizing our day-to-day risks at the end of US hours, noting any interesting trades that happened throughout the day, and coming up with different interesting metrics to share with the team related to our trading activity and portfolio holdings. I spend this time scanning through some of the data feeds such as GenesisVolatility, Laevitas, and Skew.com to grab interesting options/derivatives data related to flows and volatility. I use some of our systems to run a scenario analysis that shows our different risks and positioning across various different levels of volatility and price, and send these documents to the team.
4:30 PM - 5:00 PM: Traders who work from home are still connected to some of our voice chats and I have some downtime in the markets, so we discuss some of the macro environment behind crypto as well as some interesting thoughts about the NFT markets. Although GSR is a crypto-native shop, many of our traders have deep backgrounds in traditional finance, so I’m definitely able to get the same quality of education and learning. Macro is macro, and options are options, whether it is crypto or traditional finance.
5:00 PM - 5:45 PM: A client comes in and asks for a few quotes for a few different tokens with pretty poor liquidity. I quote them and figure out the best way to execute some of these trades, book them, and head back home to my apartment to finish up my day. I’m still learning, so I read through some of my books and note any questions I might want to ask some of our traders the next day.
In the evenings, I like to cook in my apartment, to spend time with my fiancé, or to work out in the gym. I have plenty of time to do stuff outside of work. Right now, though, there's a crypto conference happening in New York, so I go there for a couple of hours to network and discuss the market.
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