Benefits of learning Python for traders

In the world of burgers, there aren’t really many buzzwords. Maybe for the very fancy burgers, they might have wagyu beef or something exotic like that (and no, those burgers aren’t any better). However, by and large there’s only so much you can do to a burger to make it different. Ultimately it needs a bread bun, a burger patty and a few extras, like cheese. If any of these are missing, well, it’s not really a burger.


Finance, alas, is full of buzzwords. Many of these are banded around without too much thought. When it comes to quant, some of the most common are Python, alternative data and machine learning. If we purely focus on the coding angle, Python is becoming increasingly popular in financial institutions as a way of number crunching financial data. Of course, Excel is still probably number one for most traders, but Python is becoming a must have skill for graduates. At least judging by my classes, I always seem to get more students coming to my Python courses compared to VBA/Excel (VBA is still a useful skill, given all the legacy code out there!). However, if you’re not a graduate, and you’re more experienced do you need to know Python?


First thing I would say is that not everyone needs to become a developer in financial institution. In the same way, not everyone needs to become a trader! There are many different roles within any financial firm, which all compliment one another. There is so much complexity, not everyone can know everything in detail. However, at the same time, having some understanding of what Python can do at various levels, even if they aren’t necessarily going to sit down and code a lot every day.


If a trader has some understanding of what Python can do, then it make it easier for them, to know what can be accomplished in Python, and the various types of questions they can ask, which perhaps in Excel would have been too challenging. If we go back to my burger analogy, I don’t necessarily need to be an excellent cook to understand that burgers can be very tasty. However, if I have some understanding of the process which creates that burger, and all the various condiments I can better order a burger which fits my tastes.


My point is that if coding is just a black box, it makes more challenging to know the types of questions you can ask. If we can peek inside that black box, it makes it a lot easier. Python is also a transferable skill to many other disciplines, so a knowledge of Python can be useful if you want to solve problems more broadly in data science (combined with an understanding of statistics).