I’m at home whilst I’m writing this, currently watching the Berkshire Hathaway meeting over webcast (here’s hoping that I’ll be back in Omaha next time it takes place). I’ll take a wild guess here, but I suspect you might well be at home as well… Despite the fact that I’ve been working independently, for the past few years, I’ve rarely worked at home. Instead, I’ve opted to work in a shared workspace. There are numerous reasons why a workspace can be a good choice, whether it’s separating work from home, faster internet, a nice place to meet clients and so on. My workspace Level39 also has great location in Canary Wharf, which makes it easy to get to client meetings (remember those?). It’s great to be a part of the community where there’s other fintech startups, all doing slightly different things to Cuemacro, but still face similar problems to overcome.
Obviously, these are different times, and like many folks, I’m working from home for an extended period for the first time. In practice, when it comes to following financial markets, it’s similar whether I’m at home or in my workspace. Whilst my workspace is a fintech accelerator, it isn’t a trading floor (and neither is my home). The great thing about being being on a trading floor is the immediate flow of information and ideas (and you’ll hear them whether you like it or not). When you’re at working in a small team or by yourself away from such an environment, it’s somewhat different.
The first thing is that information sources, whether it is a Bloomberg terminal or a Twitter feed become even more critical away from the floor. Indeed, Twitter has been invaluable for me over the past few years to understand what’s going in, as has Bloomberg. As a quant, I get a lot of ideas for quant models, from understanding what’s going on financial markets. I’m always of the view that understanding markets is a critical part of modelling markets.
Yes, ultimately it is all just data, but having an insight into what the data represents and what angle to approach it, helps to improve the chances of success. It takes time to get used to Twitter and working out who to follow, and cutting through the noise, but it’s worth it. I often tweet on finance, and quant related topics, and it can be a good way to get feedback about my ideas. I also tweet comments when I see some interesting charts or analysis.
I value the Markets Live blog on Bloomberg with its short articles giving market colour, such as the Macro Man articles from Cameron Crise and many other experienced market practitioners. There’s also global macro squawk on Bloomberg which chimes in several times a day when there are outsized price moves on important headlines. I haven’t tried it, but RanSquawk offer a similar service if you’re not a Bloomberg terminal user. Webcasts have also been a good way to keep in touch, and I definitely recommend you sign up to the weekly Thalesians quant webinars, which I’m helping to organise!
After a few weeks, I’ve pretty much got used to working from home. Yes, it requires adjustment and it’s more challenging from some aspects, but from other aspect it’s simpler. One thing that I forgot to prepare for, was all the video calls. Whilst, I have bought a webcam, I’ve also started using my old Canon camera as a webcam, which produces great quality video – Canon just released a free utility which allows you to hook up your Canon camera as a webcam via USB. Another thing I also ignored, was getting a comfortable chair, which I’m trying to remedy as we speak.
It’s still possible to follow financial markets from home, it just takes a different approach. I suspect, I, like many, will consider working from home more often, in the future, even when things hopefully get better.