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John Qian

There is rarely a perfect trade or a right answer in most situations I face, but sometimes opportunities arise where I am able to utilize all of my training and experience to make a split-second decision that could result in a big payout.

What's your background?

I was born in Beijing and moved to Chicago when I was five. I grew up in Chicago and went to university at Northwestern University just outside of the city.

High school was really important to me because I went to a very diverse school called Whitney Young High School in Chicago, and I met people from all sorts of different backgrounds and experienced a lot of different cultures. University was where I truly discovered my passions in life, and I spent most of my time and energy outside of work the last few years traveling all over the world to see as much as I could.

I worked for another options market making firm in Chicago directly out of university so I had the trading experience already. I got in touch with the traders at Maven and after a couple of virtual interviews and a visit out here I moved to Hong Kong to join the team and have been here for two years now.

I’ve always had dreams of traveling and seeing what life is like all around the world but never had the means to do so. When I found the opportunity at Maven in Hong Kong I jumped at the opportunity because not only could I continue my trading career, but I could also take regular trips all around this part of the world that I was never able to before when I lived in the US. Moving to a foreign place with a different language and culture from my own has been an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone who is considering it to experience it for yourself.

What's your job about?

Simply put, a trader’s job is to make money by buying and selling. Traders can make money trading all sorts of things including stocks, as well as the prices of things such as a barrel of oil or a pound of pork. I work on a team that trades Japan and Hong Kong markets which consist of indices of stocks you may have heard of such as Sony and Alibaba. I my day watching how the markets move and forming opinions about the markets, and then trading options both over voice with real people as well as electronically.  

Did you always know you wanted to work in this field?

I did not know what I wanted to do until I did my first trading internship during my second year at university. I found the internship super interesting and loved the fact that trading was like playing a very complex game against other players in the market. I moved into a second internship the summer after that and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in trading after that.

What is most rewarding about your job?

Like most jobs today, there is no correct way to do things. There is rarely a perfect trade or a right answer in most situations I face, but sometimes opportunities arise where I am able to utilize all of my training and experience to make a split-second decision that could result in a big payout. I love the competitive nature of trading as well as the fact that it’s always fast paced and rarely boring, but because of that fast pace it’s not a very relaxing job. 

What were some of the challenges you faced in getting to where you are now?

The job is definitely not an easy one and has a very steep learning curve. Breaking into the industry is pretty tough because of how difficult and competitive the interview process is, and it definitely requires a lot of research and preparation. Learning the basics and the theory behind trading options takes about 6-12 months of training before you actually get to do any real trading. Once you understand the market and the systems and tools well enough then the job gets much easier and more enjoyable but the responsibilities become much greater as well. It is a very demanding job, mostly because there’s not very much downtime during the day so we always have to stay very focused, but one huge benefit is that we rarely have to work on weekends.

3 pieces of advice for you would give students who want to work in your industry?

  • Spend your money. I learned to save and invest at a young age but as I started working I had much less free time to actually enjoy myself. The money I worked so hard for to save during high school and university quickly became a drop in the bucket after I started my professional career. 
  • Don’t stress so much. Academics and internship hunting are important, but so is enjoying your university experience and making friends along the way. Everything will work out just fine so enjoy making unforgettable memories during your time here.
  • Go for it. I didn’t do a lot of things when I was younger because I thought maybe I wouldn’t be good at it or it was too late for me to start. Whether it’s traveling to that part of the world you’ve always wondered about, picking up a new sport or hobby, or even a job or internship you’re on the fence about; you’ll never know if it’s the perfect fit for you unless you try it.