Undergrads win second year in a row at Rotman

Published: May 2, 2011

Two MIT Sloan undergraduates were part of the team that took first place in the eighth annual International Trading Competition (RITC) hosted by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management in downtown Toronto in February. It was the first time a team has held the title for two years in a row.

The MIT Sloan Trading Room Task Force team consisted of the same winning contingent as last year: Joseph Huan, Benjamin Huan, and Gama Le Bouder, all SB ’11, and Kanjun Qiu, SB ’12. Junior Theodore Hilk also attended, but did not compete. More than 200 student traders from 46 universities from Australia, China, Thailand, Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States and China participated in the three-day event.

Joe Huan, a double major in Courses 15 and 6-3, said the competition was one of the “highlights” of his undergraduate career at MIT. Ben and Joe Huan are co-directors of the MIT Sloan Trading Room Task Force. “Winning two years in a row (or even twice) is unprecedented and will likely never be duplicated for a long time. RITC was in our sights since last year and we hoped to push the envelope with another first place,” Joe said.

Proper preparation
The competition had six distinct trading cases that focused on a diverse range of securities and markets. The Trading Room Task Force team prepared for the competition by practicing simulations based in software client RIT. The team built Excel models to facilitate trading and created a market-making algorithm to compete in the high-frequency case.

“Between the nights of the competition, we stayed up and practiced simulations and refined our algorithm into the morning instead of attending the nightly social events,” Joe added.

In the months leading up to the competition, the team also honed their skills. Virginia Gifford Reckley, the team’s administrative advisor, noted their dedication. “They worked hard training with monthly trading simulations here in the Trading Room and have proven that practice can make a difference!”

Tough competition
Ben Huan, also a double major in Courses 15 and 6-3, said the team’s hard work and experience really came through. “Last year, out of a perfect 43-point score, we scored 35.6 points (roughly 82.8 percent) to win over Babson by a margin of 2.8 points. This year, we scored 47.4 points out of a maximum 50 (roughly 94.8 percent) to win over second-place University of Chicago by 2.5 points. This year, four teams (MIT included) scored over the 82.8 percent that won last year.”

Gama, an economics major, said the competition is a great way to meet other students and discover new programs. He added, “This year was particularly fun because it was really tough. The competition was really challenging because there were several teams that showed up with a lot of preparation. We were able to hit our groove the last day and that was the real difference-maker. I was lucky to be able to work with really dedicated and fun teammates. I've loved the opportunity I had to go to RITC twice. Both times, we were greeted by a wonderful staff and the running of the competition is borderline flawless.”

Professor Andrew Lo, director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering and the team’s faculty advisor, said, “The MIT Sloan Trading Room Task Force has accomplished remarkable things, of which the recent win at the Rotman International Trading Competition is just one of many examples. We congratulate Ben, Joe, Gama, Kanjun, and Theodore for this singular achievement and expect great things from them in their future endeavors.”

A University of Chicago team placed second, and students from Baruch College at the City University of New York placed third in the competition.