FinTech Interview Series: Saeed Amen of Cuemacro
Saeed Amen is the founder of Cuemacro. Over the past decade, Saeed Amen has developed systematic trading strategies at major investment banks including Lehman Brothers and Nomura. Independently, he is also a systematic FX trader, running a proprietary trading book trading liquid G10 FX, since 2013. The author of Trading Thalesians: What the ancient world can teach us about trading today (Palgrave Macmillan), he now consults and publishes research for clients in the area of systematic trading. Clients have included major quant funds and data companies such as RavenPack and TIM Group. He is also a co-founder of the Thalesians.
Tell us about yourself.
Hello! I studied maths and computer science at Imperial College. I started my career in finance over a decade ago at Lehman Brothers working in FX research. I then moved over to Nomura. Over the past few years I've been working independently, initially as part of the Thalesians and now at Cuemacro, a startup I founded to decipher macro markets from a quantitative perspective.
How have you used technology to create value?
Technology underpins how we model markets. Cuemacro have created a large Python library (finmarketpy), to backtest systematic trading strategies. We've also created an index, which uses natural language processing to decipher Fed communications.
How has the asset management industry changed since you started?
The asset management industry is a lot more competitive. Fees have come lower in recent years for active managers, in part related to the success of passive investing. Robo-advisers have also given retail investors a different way to manage their portfolios.
Is FinTech different? We've always been consumers and developers of technology in financial services.
I think the way FinTech is different is that it's not being driven purely by large financial service companies. It's also being driven by startups, which do not have legacy issues with their technology. These nimble companies can move a lot faster to develop new solutions.
You started in FX - in many ways the FX was one of the first to automate, what developments in FX will impact other markets?
That's true, FX was one of the first asset classes after equities to become electronic. There's still a big divergence between how FX and equities are traded. Whereas equities is exchange traded, FX is primarily traded over-the-counter. If anything, I think more FX volume could be transacted on exchanges in the future, even if the market remains predominantly OTC.
How do you see AI and Machine Learning impacting the investing process?
I think it could be useful at many levels. One is making sense of big datasets, to make better investing decisions. It can also be used to help to automate a lot of tasks in the back office.
How do you feel about RegTech and the possibility of AI impacting regulation and compliance.
Regulation is an important part of a fair market. RegTech solutions can provide a way for firms to comply with regulations, without time consuming manual processes. An an example, AI is being used is in the automated reading of e-mails in financial firms to try to spot misconduct from employees, or the way that RiskSave have automated investor 'Suitability' under MiFiD II requirements
Can regulation keep up?
The market can change quickly. Regulation will inevitably move at a slower pace. I think this is a good thing, because we need to ensure that regulation is well thought out and this cannot be done in a rush.
What are your favourite FinTech innovations?
As an FX guy, I'm a big fan of the companies which offer consumers the ability to do currency transactions at interbank rates, such as Revolut.