"Aram Özkeskin talks about why he decided to pursue a career with SEB in finance"
Aram Özkeskin works as a Quantitative Analyst as part of SEB’s Equity Derivative and Investment Products team. He took the time to share about why he decided to pursue a career with SEB in finance.
You are not exactly the classic example of a banker with an economics or finance degree. Can you tell us about your skillset and why you chose banking?
You’re right about my background. I actually have a MSc in Engineering Physics, which was not typically associated with banking in the past. In high school, I had an early interest in stock trading, but I was not really interested in studying economics full-time. However, I took a course in financial mathematics, I ended up writing my thesis in derivatives pricing, and one of my professors introduced me to a graduate programme at a large international trading software company.
After that, I worked in Switzerland, both at a consultancy somewhat between the IT and trading side, and then at a trading desk reducing operational risk and developing automations. That experience set me up very well to come home to Sweden and do the work I’m doing now.
What are you working on at SEB?
Personally, I am working to decrease costs and increase trading profits by modernizing the trading desk infrastructure and develop SEB proprietary solutions together with traders. It’s a little unorthodox here in Sweden at least because my profile is typically not working within the trading group. There are separate Quant groups working with Markets that work on pricing models, whereas I am more focused on how to improve every aspect of our trading operation.
Why did you choose SEB?
Moving back to Sweden with skills in trading software used by a few banks in Stockholm and quite a bit of experience in working with banks in Switzerland and Germany, I was confident I could apply my skills at a trading desk. I heard SEB was a bank that had the most trading knowledge and was open to innovation and improvement. I verified this by asking for a consulting assignment at SEB to start with, so I could get a feeling for the trading desk.
After joining, I was positively surprised at the level of willingness and drive to innovate. We still have plenty to improve of course, but we have the management philosophy to do it. If you have an idea, you are encouraged to spend some time on it, and if looks promising we present it and can run with it.
Any thoughts or recommendations for others considering their career path?
For me, I love problem solving, and I would emphasize that as an important skill in this industry. Quant skills and machine learning are quickly becoming critical in banking as well. Most of all, though, find a company that fits your philosophy. I wanted to work somewhere that desired change and innovation, and I found that. I get to implement ideas in a short period of time and see quick results, and over time, I also get to see the larger sum of my improvements. It’s rewarding when you find the right match.