In Conversation with CQF Alumni: Hugh Tallini

Hugh Tallini, Head of FX Options Quant Trading, UBS

Hugh earned the CQF in 2005. He started his career as a Quant Developer, before moving to UBS where he is now Head of FX Options Quant Trading. We spoke to Hugh about how the electronification of processes have impacted the industry and his advice for new quants.

Tell us a about the work you do in your current role?

I head up the FX Options e-trading team at a global investment bank. I manage quant and quant development teams that create algorithms and build out the systems that are used to trade FX Options.

Why did you decide to pursue your current career path? How did you get to the senior level that you’re at today?

Before finance I was an Experimental Particle Physicist. The complex computing systems, data analysis, and quant techniques we used there were very similar to those used in electronic trading, so it suited my interests and skills. I was fortunate in getting into finance at the start of the electronification journey of the financial markets and my career grew with that journey.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

The satisfaction of problem solving in a complex environment where the problem domain is always evolving, meaning there are constantly new challenges and learning opportunities. 

What are some of the biggest achievements or highlights in your career to date?

Building out an algo trading eco-system from scratch and successively growing its capabilities each year. This goes hand in hand with building out the systems and helping to create the high performing team that delivered this.

What have been some of the biggest challenges in your field of work over the past few years?

The focus on new regulatory requirements, particularly on algo trading, has grown enormously over the past few years. This has led to more rigid processes and scrutiny being put in place around algo changes. Regulatory requirements now have to be considered as a core part of project delivery, as well as system design and operation.

How has the quant finance / finance industry changed throughout your career to date?

After the financial crisis, there was a pivot away from complex derivative pricing products and models being the interesting part of finance for quants to work on, to optimizing and automating flow products – so a pivot towards electronification. That’s my biased view anyway in terms of what’s interesting!

You earned the Certificate in Quantitative Finance (CQF) in 2005. Where did the CQF add value to your career? 

I completed it at the start of my career. It gave me a good, intuitive understanding of quant finance techniques and the trading business that would have taken years otherwise to gain on-the-job or through self-study. Additionally, the access to the Lifelong Learning platform is a great resource for keeping in touch with what’s going on in the broader quant field.

In your opinion, what are the skillsets that are required to be successful in quantitative finance / the financial industry today and do you think different skills will become more important over the coming years? 

For electronic trading, it’s data analysis and statistics skills, programming, and a thorough knowledge of the product area you work on. Machine learning techniques are certainly becoming more important and will continue to be so in the years to come.

What would your advice be to someone starting a career in the industry?

Keep learning and investing in yourself and your skills so that you’re able to stay up to date as the market evolves.

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