Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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The annual Rotman International Trading Competition (RITC) is an incredibly exciting event  that brings teams of students from universities worldwide to participate in a unique 3-day simulated market challenge. The event includes a “front office” trading floor in Rotman’s Fleck atrium where students compete amongst one another to purchase simulated financial assets. Students also conduct their research and analysis in the Rotman Finance Lab.

RITC 2019 marked the 16th anniversary of this trading competition, currently the world’s largest. The event attracted more than 350 participants including student traders, analysts and risk managers representing 52 different universities from sixteen countries across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. 

The Rotman International Trading Competition is the largest of its kind

Rotman’s team had an excellent performance, finishing amongst the top ten teams. Michael Cui (MFRM ‘19) – a student of Rotman’s Master of Financial Risk Management – was a member of this team. In this post, Michael details his experience as a Rotman student in the MFRM program as well as his participation in the RITC Competition.  

The RITC Competition

Michael Cui (MFRM '19)

Michael found the RITC Competition to be an incredibly formative experience. For him, the opportunity to build on crucial decision-making skills – a necessity in both the RITC Competition and the real world of risk management – was fundamental. 

We learned not only about market mechanisms and trading strategies, but also how to make decisions quickly, especially when not all the information is available.

The RITC Competition also presented an opportunity to apply the theoretical tools learned in the classroom in a fast-paced market environment. The goal was to analyze news and market information as fast as possible, all while maximizing profits through executing the right trades at appropriate prices. 

Rotman's RITC team

“The most important thing that I learned, is how to apply the knowledge that we have learned in school (for example, implied volatility and option valuation) to create real-time pricing models, and trade based on the model outputs. Through this process, we improved our modelling skills and trade execution abilities.”

From New York to Toronto

A native of New York, Michael’s decision to choose the MFRM at Rotman was based on a variety of factors. Firstly, he was deeply interested in pursuing a career in risk management, specifically in market risk. Secondly, he believed Rotman’s location in Toronto was ideal by virtue of its proximity to financial institutions. 

I grew up in New York, and I really wanted to move to Canada in order to have a better work-life balance, so joining Rotman’s MFRM program was also an opportunity for me to start a career in Canada. 

Since becoming a student in the MFRM program, Michael has found the integrated Risk Management Project to be the most rewarding – and challenging – part of his degree. In the Risk Management Project, students conduct major research work for a management issue that is relevant and of interest to financial institutions. 

The Risk Management Project is an essential component of the MFRM Program

“We were placed in a financial institution to work on a real-world risk management project. Different from a typical internship experience, this project specifically focuses on an area of risk management, and prepares students for full-time job opportunities.”

What does the MFRM program teach you?

Students in the MFRM program are taught to build on core competencies: quantitative skills and and critical thinking abilities. According to Michael, students should also be adept in computer programming so as to have a competitive edge.

The implementation of many risk management frameworks nowadays requires programming skills or other quantitative analysis abilities, and I think having background knowledge of statistics and languages such as Python really helps you succeed in this program.

Additionally, Michael believes in the importance of analysis, which goes beyond quantitative abilities and requires students to understand the reasoning behind the numbers. 

“Risk management, reporting, and analysis all require you to analyze what’s the real reason or the key driver behind the result, and not just to show the result itself. You need to have critical thinking abilities, in order to have a better understanding of risk exposures.”

For the future, Michael plans to start a career in a sell-side institution in Canada. He considers that institutions who place an importance on risk management gain exponentially as a result. 

“I think risk management is a critical function to the success of every financial institution, and I think a career in risk really adds a lot of value to the institution.”

The Master of Financial Risk Management is a full time program designed to prepare ambitious young professionals for careers in risk management and finance. 

© Rotman School of ManagementThe Rotman School of Management is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AASCB)