Economics, Trading Education

How can you learn global macro strategies for a career in the field?

Global macro strategies are employed by many hedge funds and mutual funds and can function through a variety of mechanisms. To determine how to learn global macro strategies, it is necessary to first identify what type of strategy you are seeking to pursue. For simplicity, two characteristics are provided to assist in identification of strategy variants. Those two characteristics are: degree of quantification and asset class(es). 

How does preferred degree of quantification affect learning global macro strategies?

For those seeking a great degree of quantification (known as quants), hard science training is generally considered favorable. Directly applicable fields are mathematics, data science, and computer science. Additionally, a direct understanding of technical analysis within financial markets will be beneficial for developing a career. The actual application of purely quantitative strategies is simply creating models for predicting market changes and implementing those models through algorithmic trading. 

Obviously, college degrees in the aforementioned fields are useful in becoming a quant, however, alternatives are available. Like any tech-intensive field, hiring managers often seek ingenuity and entrepreneurial traits beyond a college degree and GPA. For example, reading articles like this and learning how to trade on your own is a perfect way to demonstrate a commitment and competency within the field. Additionally, consider taking online coding courses. These courses can deliver a cost-efficient and practical coding education without the hassle of a university. Remember, the world is progressively digitizing and many universities are now teaching the entire upcoming semester online. Accordingly, the stigmata associated with online learning is diminishing. 

For those seeking a more fundamental approach to global macro strategies (i.e analyzing data in conjunction with qualitative political/economic predictions), a degree in finance, economics, political science, or any of the aforementioned quantitative majors will suffice. Although trading is becoming increasingly automated, most funds still rely on human intuition when deploying capital. Therefore, learning traditional economic analysis and becoming proficient at interpreting news events will be highly valuable in this pursuit.

Outside of Universities, specific mediums and resources which will facilitate this learning are newspapers, blogs, and podcasts. You should drill basic macro concepts like inflation, interest rates, employment rates, and government debt. Read about these topics and constantly test your fluidity; are you able to quickly relate an expected change in one economic dimension to secondary consequences in another?

How do you learn about different asset classes within global macro?

Global macro funds can utilize essentially every type of financial instrument in expressing their views. Accordingly, it is worth becoming reasonably familiar with futures, swaps, currencies, options, stocks, and bonds. After you gain a basic understanding of each, pursue further specialization within one or two related asset classes. Remember, although general knowledge is valuable, bringing a specialized and refined skill set that can provably add value for an employer is outstanding. In the case of global macro funds, having a dedicated understanding of specific securities will separate you from other applicants.

The language of macro is plurality

Given that global macro strategies bet on the entire world, fluency in multiple languages is a highly valued asset at many firms. Communicating with clients and research teams in other countries is par for the course within global macro and applicants which can facilitate and improve that communication are very desirable. If you speak secondary languages but are somewhat rusty, take courses to bring you closer to fluency.

If you speak no languages other than your native tongue, consider learning the language(s) of a major market such as China, India, or Germany. More broadly, the principle of diversifying your skillset and offering unique sources of value generation is critical to landing a career in global macro. When you think about learning the strategies, remember that it means more than just coding or memorizing economic terms;  well-balanced candidates with adaptive skill sets will inevitably find success. 

Taking the next steps

After determining the degree of quantification and asset classes which most suit you, set aside a daily period to read about macroeconomic news and another period to learn about technical strategies. Even if these periods are only thirty minutes, your knowledge will quickly compound and elevate you beyond other applicants. Furthermore, if you are already trading your own capital, continue to practice and refine your strategies. After all, nothing can replicate actual experience as a market participant. 

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