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Motorsports & Market Making: The Drive to Win

June 16, 2021

Motorsports and market making: it’s not often you hear these industries mentioned together. After all, what similarities could race car drivers zooming down a circuit share with traders and engineers on a trading floor? As it turns out, the unique worlds of auto racing and high-speed trading have far more in common than one might expect. From passion to precision to cutting-edge innovation, learn more about how life in the driver’s seat at Optiver also means performing at top speeds on a global stage.

Engineered for success

Professional drivers may be the ones giving autographs, but true motorsport fans know that winning a race would not be possible without a team of top engineers operating behind the scenes. A driver’s performance ultimately relies on their technical team in the garage, data analysts and, of course, the engineers continuously re-building and fine-tuning the vehicles to ensure seamless operability.

In the same way, Optiver has approximately 160 technicians working in Amsterdam, designing, building and continuously iterating the trading systems used by over 100 traders. While the traders – like drivers – absorb the risk and must outperform the competition, they are dependent on their technical counterparts to build them the fastest, most precise equipment. At Optiver, traders and system engineers work together with mutual respect, knowing their output is equally essential to the wider team’s success.

Need for speed

Every day is game day at Optiver, as we are laser-focused on continuously improving the markets. Much like motor sports ­– where half a second can determine a win or a loss – high-speed trading requires the fastest possible system performance to benefit all parties involved.

Our FPGA-based technology literally responds at the speed of light. This pace enables us to ensure the market is fair, stable, liquid and transparent. But even the most competitive pricing algorithm can never stop evolving. To always lower the cost for the end investor, and thereby improve the market, Optiver must provide the most competitive prices at all times. When the market moves, we need to move with it. Slowing down is very risky business, which requires us to remain nimble. Although we’re already at the top of the market making leader board, we’ll never stop working to make our trading systems faster and more accurate.

Strategies at the ready

Race car drivers must be prepared to navigate the unexpected. The top teams have strategies in place for pit stops, malfunctions, adverse weather and crashes in order use every possible scenario to their advantage. In the highly intense and competitive environment of trading, Optiver also has thousands of predictive, circulating strategies in place. Our technology is designed to forecast and respond to real-time volatility, so that we can make informed and immediate decisions in the event of market turbulence (and yes, even crashes).

Where excellence is a team sport

Collaboration is the true heartbeat of Optiver. While many of our competitors encourage fierce internal competition between their trading desks and people, we believe that when the firm does well, we all do well. Just as racing teams share data between their own drivers and cars, we foster a culture of openness and teamwork throughout the company and our global offices. Rather than bump each other out of our lane to hit targets, we strive to excel together. Our hedging desks on the trading floor are a great example of how we gladly shoulder loss and risk to benefit the greater good.

A rare breed of people

Few athletes possess the skills needed to become a race car driver. Demanding ruthless commitment, advanced sensory perception and nearly superhuman agility, it’s a position few will have the natural gifts for. At Optiver, we seek an equally rare breed of people. Our teams are comprised of the most gifted thinkers, problem-solvers and competitors. We have an endless hunger for knowledge. We welcome the most seemingly impossible challenges. As in motorsports, our people are simply special. They’re different. They’re indescribably talented. They’re Optiver.

Visit our Careers Page to learn more about working at Optiver and explore our currently open positions.