Aviad Axelrod, EMEA Head of Electronic Trading Products, starts our conversation about ITG with his "elevator pitch" for the business. "We use technology to assist clients throughout the trading process, from suggesting which stocks to buy and sell, to offering trading tools, to measuring trading performance against several benchmarks and our peers."
"In the financial markets, the pace is very fast and a lot of money is at stake. So there's significant demand in the industry for high-quality products from external providers like us, but a very low tolerance for bugs and mistakes. We have to always be at the cutting edge of technology. We have to always be the fastest and the best."
The tools ITG provides to its clients range from research and analysis tools to trading systems, but they all have certain key features in common. "We build all our technology in-house," says Aviad. "People stay here for a long time because they know they can have ownership over the source code they're working on."
But developers at ITG certainly don't get stuck in one area. "We're a relatively small organisation of about a hundred employees across Dublin and London, and only 1,000 globally," says Aviad. "Working here you get to know all the other technologies that ITG has built over the years. Each of our products needs to be able to interract with all the others, so everyone comes to understand all of them and gets exposure to any new technologies we come across as an organisation."
"We're continually putting new levels of code into our products to respond to changes in the market," adds Aviad. "For example, clients used to be happy to get monthly feedback on their trading strategies, but now they want live feedback during trading so they can immediately respond to the market if necessary. We constantly collaborate with our clients to provide a proactive solution within a rapidly changing marketplace."
Mix and match
ITG offers the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills across a wide range of technical areas. "If you're used to writing in C ++," says Aviad, "and a piece of code is written in Python, we'll teach you Python. If you need SQL skills, we'll put you on a course to learn these skills."
Graduates joining ITG are also encouraged to get to know ITG's business as a whole. "You'll get a very good understanding of trading," says Aviad. "Here you'll come to understand not just the code you're writing, but how the result is going to be used and the value it's going to add to the business. And that in turn makes you a better developer."
You'll immediately get the chance to work on exciting projects. "We've recently had graduates analysing how volume spikes affect trading," says Aviad. "They had to understand algorithmic strategies, construct and manage a database, and come up with conclusions. Another recent joiner has developed a system that monitors which market data is used, user by user, which enabled us to turn off unused market feeds. It's saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars."
There's also scope to experience a number of areas across the business and discover a kind of work that really suits you. At the assessment day stage, the recruitment team will consider where an applicant might be best placed. Interns then have the chance to work with a range of different teams during their time at ITG, and once they join the business permanently as graduates they'll get to sit with the London head of each of ITG's departments as part of the induction process.
"I recently met an applicant," says Aviad, "who asked to get involved in post-trade analysis, but I felt his strong mathematic background made him ideal for the electronic trading team. So we chatted during the interview process, he thought about what he'd be most interested in, and he ended up giving electronic trading a try."
Aviad adds that this flexibility doesn't disappear when you become more senior. "All developers can cross over from development to product management, or from one development team to another. I have one colleague who's been in three teams so far - he's very keen to try different things and to learn."
What thoughts does Aviad have for graduates interested in technology in finance, and perhaps in working for ITG? "Electronic trading is a growing market, especially in Europe. There are always exciting new developments just around the corner."
"If you like the idea of an exciting environment that's small enough for you to make a difference in, yet has the backing of a NYSE-listed parent company, ITG could be the right place for you."