CAIA / CFA / Excel modeling / C++????

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by Brian Diesel, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. I want to learn more than the typical Trading for a Living etc books. What would be the best courses, books, etc to read/take?

    Should I enroll at a local college and learn some C ++ programming?

    Take advanced Excel classes?

    Enroll in the CFA or CAIA?

    Any input is greatly appreciated.

  2. Hi Brian,

    Tough question, since it depends what type of trading direction you want to go in. I have been where you are now, and am still learning, but here is what I am thinking so far.

    C++ has a steep, long, learning curve. I think you really have to love that to do it well. Of course, if you get a book on the subject, and you can get through it without dozing off (I couldn't), then after some practice, a course might be good.

    Amazon has some good books on building models is C++ and other basic C++ books. Do a search there, there is some very valuable information.

    Also, you do need to read the basics, in my opinion, like Market Wizards and New Market Wizards, which I am sure you have done by now. It seems you want to develop and trade systems, so I found an AWESOME book in Van Tharp's "Trade your Way to Financial Freedom," and Jeffrey Katz' "Encyclopedia of Trading Strategies." Tharp's book I believe was just updated. There is also a new book coming in March that looks awesome..."Building Automated Trading Systems, with an intro to Visual C++.NET" by Benjamin Van Vliet. Of course, "Technical Analysis..." by John Murphy is a classic must have.

    As far as learning a language to develop a system, that may be the right way, but there are lots of programs out there now that can help get you started. The way I am doing it is I am using software that is advanced but doesn't require C++ or advanced programming languages to thouroughly backtest and trade ideas. If the software, at some point, doesn't fulfill my needs, then I will probably hire or contract a programmer to help design. FOr now, these programs seem to have a lot to offer. Check out other forums and you can find out about software like Patsystems IQ Trader, Tradecision, Traders Studio, Trading Solutions, Tradestation, Apama, and on the lower end, stuff like AmiBroker, Wealth Lab, etc.

    The CFA would be a 3 year (at least) journey into analysis and won't really help with trading or developing trading systems, in my opinion. That is for analysts, more of a fundamental nature. If that's what you want to do, that's great. But if you want to trade, that is a monumental task that would be nearly useless.

    I hope this helps a little.
  3. CFA just way too long.. if you are going to sacrifice that much life why not go for part time MBA?

    CAIA takes a year and is much more interesting, so it takes a year to start networking with serious Fund of Funds managers looking to put $$ to work.
  4. who knows,

    Thank you very much. I have read most of the books that you have mentioned. The C++ is something I will have to take a look at, but you brought up a good point, 'depends on the trading I do'. I actually think at this point, learning to do more advanced excel functions is what would help me the most.

    Thank you again for your help.

  5. I have been looking at the CAIA and it looks very interesting. I believe you have passed both levels correct?

    What did it offer you as far as learning and improving your investing (stocks, real estate, etc)

    What study course or books would you rec.? I see they have a test in March, which if I started now, would give me ample time to study for.

    Thanks again.

  6. I enrolled in it for the exact reason that it looked interesting, and in fact it is, very interesting. Also it gives me excellent opportunities to network with FOF professionals which can do wonders down the road if I make a decision to trade OPM.

    It wont help you with fundamental investing, but will give you insight about cutting edge new techniques of alternative investments, its truly unbelievable how stuff gets structured into products offering excellent risk/return profile.

    The designation is really for people in the Fund of Fund industry, and thats where is carries the most weight right now.

    As a member you get discounts to every hedge fund conference, as well as sometimes free passes worth north of $3k. The Journal of Alternative investments, with cutting edge research in every issue, is free to members. Also very nice job board if thats what you are looking for.

    Above all, 95% of members are seasoned professionals and because the designation is new its like one big family, everyone will talk to you and you can network with the big shots at every meeting.

    As for exams, level 1 needs to change and in fact they are working on eliminating all that boring review stuff. Level 2 is a tough exam, and you would need to spend considerably more time on it.
  7. Brian, although I hate risking another programming language "war," I'd really recommend learning Java or Python before you learn C++. They're much cleaner languages that allow you to get comfortable with key concepts before you have to deal with the mess that is C++.

    As for my advice between the two, Java is better for understanding OO programming, while Python may be easier for you to use in initial pet projects because it's much better for data parsing.

    Oh, and speaking as someone who is getting the CFA designation in January, I'd recommend against it if your interest is trading.
  8. I would strongly agree. Too much financial theory and intellectual probing clouds ones judgement and affects flexibility in quick decision making. Sometimes the less you know the better. its easy to ignore stop losses and switch in time frames when one starts thinking value but trades on shorter time frame. getting the CFA will put you in that mind frame. You will be looking at homebuilders and saying wow historically low PB and PEs gotta buy, meanwhile someone else will ignore the fundamentals pull up 5 year charts and say holy sh... these things have some ways to go...

    CFA is great for Analysts + Traditional PMs, but then again its their work experience teaching them not the CFA...
  9. Copernicus how about you stop advertising the CAIA..
  10. how about you stopping wasting time studying for the CFA and getting on the right bandwagon?

    #10     Dec 20, 2006