Hello, fellow clueless folk! I am Harshit Bisht, a dual degree student in the department of mathematics and statistics. As part of my random walk through all possible career options, I worked with Kivi Capital as a summer intern for 10 weeks. What sets the firm apart from traditional finance companies is the intimate, almost startup-like office atmosphere while having challenges that better resemble an established financial firm. If you’re interested in working with smart people, working in quantitative trading, or just getting a taste of how mathematical patterns can earn money, you might find this interesting.
Kivi regularly visits Kanpur during regular internship season. During my fourth year, they also floated an off campus opportunity for dual degree math students, and that’s when I applied for the position. Owing to this, you might have a different experience than I did during the selection process. Since it is a small team, Kivi takes no chances during placements and hires freshers only by awarding PPOs to interns (might change in the future).
The selection process started with a basic resume shortlisting that accepted most people who applied. After that, they conducted several rounds of telephonic interviews of about one hour each. The interviews were a mixed bag of probability puzzles, elementary statistics, and algorithmic problems. It felt like they were looking for people who understood why a certain approach towards a problem was correct as opposed to merely getting to the answers. Since I hadn’t registered for internships and this opportunity came out of the blue, I did not get much time to prepare. I looked up mathematical puzzles from http://www.cseblog.com/ and algorithm based questions from glassdoor and geeksforgeeks (although I strongly believe that the specific sources don’t really matter much, it’s the same set of questions regurgitated all over the internet). I would recommend that you don’t go through the questions quickly but take your time with each one, think about possible variations and the key ideas that drive you to the solution. Ultimately, this problem solving mentality should come in handy over rote memorization of standard problems.
Kivi Capital is a quantitative trading firm. Simply put, it uses historical price data from Indian stock markets to determine whether to buy or sell a given security (could be stocks, commodities, currencies, or their derivatives). This is done purely algorithmically, by programming and deploying trading strategies that generate entry and exit signals that are generated by observing recent price movement. This differentiates it from people or firms that invest on a discretionary basis, by looking at news events and predicting price movements by using their industry experience. The interns were each assigned a project peripheral to the functioning of the firm, without going into actual strategy creation as that requires a longer time interval to learn. My primary project was to analyse their existing strategies and create a report of their performance that would be a good indicator of future performance. While the work didn’t directly require many high level mathematical tools, mathematical maturity was often an implicit requirement as one needs to be sure that they are drawing correct inferences from the data. I spent a large part of the workday programming, so you need to be absolutely comfortable translating basic ideas into readable code to be suitable for an internship of this nature.
For me, the biggest plus point of the internship was the open office atmosphere and work culture. There are no physical barriers between any two workstations, and everyone is free to interact and share ideas with everyone in the office. This ensured that going to office didn’t feel like a chore, in fact it was quite fun on most days! The work is interesting and not too strenuous, for me it was exactly the right balance between mundane routine and creative effort. The same can seem like a possible downside, however, when you consider that the workplace offers a very limited number of people to interact with and no geographical variety. Occasionally, it got a little frustrating when my work was stalled due to some data dependency. On the whole, the experience was overwhelmingly positive, further enhanced by the clear and honest communication with the firm management who disclose all relevant information before they ask you to make any decision. The enigmatic city of Gurgaon with its endless dining options and traffic-choked roads, remains both a pro and a con.
True to the title, I have not yet decided if I plan to continue in the industry or not. However, this internship really deviated from the soulless, opaque experience that I had been scared into believing corporates were. If you’re interested in the stock markets, general finance, or just want to work in a challenging yet honest and fun workspace, I’d suggest you definitely apply for Kivi Capital.