What it does: Trading firm using the latest technologies, data analysis and automation for futures and options exchanges.
Best known for: The media once touted Akuna Capital as the first trading firm to buy and sell bitcoin derivatives in Chicago, USA.
Staff stats: More than 200 employees.
The good bits: Akuna Capital has an informal workplace with relaxed office attire policies. Benefits include free snacks, health insurance, in-house fitness centre and tuition reimbursements.
The not so good bits: Internship opportunities and entry-level roles at Akuna are scarce in Hong Kong. Work hours can be irregular and long, which are typical among futures and options firms.
Andrew Killion and Mitchell Skinner founded Akuna Capital in 2011. The company’s name originates from the Aboriginal word ‘flowing water’ in Australia, just like how the organisation describes its core competency of providing liquidity in the futures and options markets.
The trading firm has expanded since they opened their headquarters in Chicago. Akuna Capital has offices in Boston, Hong Kong, Sydney and Shanghai. They only trade with the company’s capital with no clients or third-party investors. Employees own shares in the company, according to Akuna Capital.
The company observes a specific hiring process for development, IT infra, quant, trading-options and trading-quant roles.
Job seekers should complete an online coding test within a limited time, after submitting their applications. You should expect a technical phone interview with one of the company’s developers if you pass the test, followed by final-round interviews either in person or video conference. The final interview may take from one to four hours.
You will take an online talent assessment if Akuna Capital shortlists your application. An IT infrastructure team member will speak with you through a technical phone interview. The last round of interviews either in person or video conference can also last up to four hours.
The online coding test for shortlisted candidates will entail a more specific programming language (i.e. Python or C++), unlike the coding challenge for development positions. A member of the Quant Trading & Research Team will conduct a technical phone interview if you pass the exam. Final-round interviews will take between one and four hours.
Screened applicants will need to complete a 22-minute mental math test and an online talent assessment. You will then create a short, pre-recorded video interview followed by a technical phone interview with an Akuna Capital trader. The last interviews will take from one to four hours.
There’s also a 22-minute mental maths test for shortlisted applicants followed by a timed Python coding test. Two members of the Quant Trading & Research team will conduct separate technical phone interviews. The last round of interviews will last from one to four hours.
Akuna Capital accepts internships for the trading, quant and development teams every summer. The company may hire ‘Akunacademy’ interns as full-time employees based on excellent performance. Development interns should be interested in algorithms, data capture and analysis, exchange gateways, performance engineering or trading infrastructure.
Quant interns will learn about algorithm improvements in financial markets, execution logic, performance optimisation, pricing models and the company’s trading strategies. Trading interns will gain experience in option theory and trade execution. Internships may last from seven to ten weeks.
Fresh graduates can join the company as a junior in the business operations, development IT infrastructure, quantitative, risk and trading departments. They can move up as a senior after five years, but exceptional employees can advance in their roles at the company every year.
Company benefits are comprehensive with social events (eg happy hours, sponsored weekend trips every year), tuition reimbursements, vacation and sick leave, 12-week paid maternity leave, referral bonuses, health insurance, free snacks, entertainment facilities and an in-house gym.
Akuna Capital has a laid-back work environment where men can even wear shorts and sandals at the office. The company encourages employees to socialise by hosting different activities every month including book clubs, dinners, fitness classes, team sports and trivia nights.
The Akuna U programme also ensures that employees constantly learn new things. Employees with no prior experience in trading attend an eight-week lecture series (i.e. Trading 101: Trading for Non-Traders). This program serves as an example that not everyone must be familiar with the company’s operations.
The company’s business rivals include Allston Trading LLC, Jump Trading LLC, Optiver and Tower Research Capital LLC.
Cboe Global Markets imposed a US$1.3 million fine to Akuna Capital due to the company’s questionable options trades related to VIX. The transactions raised the likelihood of certain derivatives bets being included in the auction, hence determining the final VIX settlement values. Cboe Global Markets, however, reportedly had no evidence to prove their claims against the trading firm.
The casual work environment, comprehensive benefits and social events at Akuna Capital compensate for the heavy workload and pressure. Be prepared to sacrifice your personal time during weekends, as working in options and futures markets may require you to be available 24/7. You’ll learn a lot at the company in exchange for long hours at the office.