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CTSD Established as New Certification Program

Credit due to John Lai who notified me of the article.

Source http://www.fenews.com/fen49/one_time_articles/ctsd-certification/ctsd-certification.html

The Institute for Market Technology has established a new certification program called Certified Trading System Developer (CTSD). It is a self-study program based on recommended readings and a candidate body of knowledge with three required examinations, one each in the areas of quantitative finance, trading strategies and financial technology, all of which candidates must pass to earn the CTSD designation.

According to Ben Van Vliet, CSTD program director, this new certification program responds to an important trend in the needs of employers. "There are a lot of excellent programs out there for financial engineering and mathematical finance. And there are, of course, many excellent programs in computer science. But there isn't a program that combines these two areas of expertise with the business of trading and fund management, despite the growing importance of automated (or algorithmic) trading systems in the financial industry. The CTSD program does just that."

The CTSD program combines the mathematics involved in trading securities and derivatives with the kinds of programming skills taught at some of the more computational financial engineering programs, like C++ and MATLAB, with additional coverage of technologies such as databases, SQL, FIX, XML, .NET, sockets, multi-threading and real-time trading system development. The self-study and testing for the CTSD program is patterned after the successful approach of the CFA and CPA exam programs, since the body of knowledge is too large to be covered in a standard masters program.

That body of knowledge appears to be daunting based on the first group of test takers. "We had our first exam last December," Van Vliet notes, "and of the four initial candidates taking the exam - it was on financial technology - no one passed." Each of the three tests run a full day - three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon and will be offered three times a year so that a candidate could conceivably pass all three exams and earn their CTSD in a 12-month period. Realistically, however, except for very experienced financial engineers, it will more than likely take three years of study to pass all three CTSD exams, similar to the amount of time invested in preparing for the CFA. The tests will be offered in Chicago, New York and London.

Another unique feature of this certification program is the need to apply and gain acceptance as a candidate prior to taking any of the three tests. Van Vliet explains that this step has been added to ensure the candidates come to the program with a minimum level of knowledge and experience already under their belts. "The pool of applicants for the CTSD includes people who already have a master's degree in financial engineering or computational finance. What the program offers is a way to extend their skills to the new world of financial trading - computerized, algorithmic trading - that is quickly emerging in all of the major capital markets."

I4MT is so convinced about the demand for newly minted CTSDs that it is offering a guarantee of sorts. "As you can imagine, industry demand for CTSDs will be strong and as a result, we guarantee anyone who earns the CTSD we will find them a job - unless of course they are currently employed and not seeking new employment - within six months of earning CTSD or we will refund their $495 program fee." And based on the membership of the i4MT's board, it seems to be a guarantee they are confident they can meet. The current boards of directors and overseers includes Van Vliet, David J. Norman (former senior bond and interest rate derivatives broker at Sanwa Futures); Dr. Andrew Kumiega (a quantitative analyst at Spectrum Global Fund Administration); Dr. Deborah Cernauskas (president of Risk and Technology, Inc.); Gary P. Lahey (former chairman of the executive committee at the Chicago Board Options Exchange); Russell Wojcik (former head of equity and interest rate derivatives at HSBC); Jason Malkin (president of Lakescape Capital Management, LLC); and Sagy Mintz (vice president at Trading Technologies, Inc.).

Van Vliet added that "the long-term goal of the CTSD and the i4MT organization is to provide a focal point for the intersection of financial engineering, trading strategy, programming and project management. While each area is excellently covered in the academic world, there currently is no organization where professionals from each of these diverse areas can gather to discuss the future of automated trading using a common language and knowledge base as will be provided by the CTSD."

For more information about the CTSD, visit http://www.i4MT.org.