From Fast Money to fast trading: Tim Seymour’s latest crypto adventure
Tradingene could well be the future of trading, using algorithms that can invest cryptocurrencies to turn a profit. Business Chief caught up with Tim Seymour to find out why he feels algo-trading and blockchain technology are built to last.
Tim Seymour is a familiar face to many across the US as part of CNBC’s Fast Money show, a post-market program for investors, CEOs, traders and analysts which he has been involved with for over a decade.
Since 2007, Fast Money has been regularly broadcast across the US as well as in Asia. “The show follows the news of the day and gives the audience a chance to condense down a complicated, broad reaching trading day,” says Seymour. “It’s informative but fun; earnest in its approach without taking itself too seriously.”
Overall, Seymour boasts 19 years of experience in global and emerging market investment as a hedge fund manager and trader across multiple asset markets. At Fast Money, he is able to view markets through a global lens and focuses on political and technical analysis to look at trading and investment opportunities. “Clearly the best thing about being a part of the Fast Money team is the quality and breadth of the guests we chat with on a daily basis, from the world’s most powerful CEOs and hedge fund managers, to the brightest, off-the-run minds,” he adds.
Seymour has also been a managing partner at Triogem asset management, a hedge fund and wealth management firm, since 2008, and last year founded Seymour Asset Management, which offers wealth and investment management services for family offices and high net-worth individuals. “After over 20 years as a trader and fund manager where my clients were the world’s largest institutional investors, I wanted to work with a broader base of clients, using my experience across multiple asset classes and strategies to map out their financial culture.”
Now, Seymour is involved in a new venture – investment in the fast-moving cryptocurrency space. As of this year, he has taken on the role of investment advisor at Tradingene, a marketplace for trading algorithms. “At its core, Tradingene plans to create a new available financial instrument – trading algorithms.” On the platform, investors can not only choose but also adjust algorithms to fit their risk return preferences and pay developers only in case of positive returns. For algorithm creators, Tradingene is a good place to do all: develop, back-test and raise capital.
“By working with both investors and developers, Tradingene can set standards and benchmarks for algorithmic trading,” adds Seymour. Algo-trading involves programming machines to follow a set of instructions to trade in a way that will generate profit. Moreover, Tradingene uses machine learning technologies to enhance algorithm performance and show even better results.
Tradingene is launching a marketplace to allow investors to learn about algorithms, as well as evaluate and choose the most suitable method for their own portfolio. “Algorithms send signals to investors’ existing accounts at their broker or on an exchange, making the addition of algorithms to their portfolios simple and low risk,” says Seymour. “When co-founder Daniel Wolfe told me about the Tradingene platform and plans to make trading algorithms available to the broader investment community, I was very interested. Most investors are aware of the outsized returns being generated by the algorithm-driven funds, but what’s lacking is the capacity to build, back-test and implement algorithms in-house. Tradingene offers an elegant solution,” he explains.
While the idea of trading with algorithms may seem new to many investors, for Seymour the speed, efficiency and scientific approach of algo-trading makes perfect sense. “It’s clear that trading without emotion and according to a rules-based approach is something many investors can benefit from to improve upon their existing core investment themes and analysis,” he emphasizes. But is it time for humans to give way to machines altogether? “We do not believe all trading will eventually be exclusively algo-generated,” Seymour clarifies, “but there is significant scope for making algorithms a larger portion of the investment landscape.”
The rise of cryptocurrency
While algorithm trading goes on in the finance space, Tradingene’s use of algorithms to trade cryptocurrency is as new as the digital currency itself. While many were skeptical about the rise of Bitcoin, the technology behind digital tokens is doubtless here to stay, and popularity of ICOs and crypto investment hasn’t waned despite various regulatory issues. “Cryptocurrency is attractive to global investors for many reasons,” says Seymour. “First, for investors in economies with currencies less stable than the US dollar, cryptocurrency offers a way to protect savings from currency devaluation as well as a path to investing in assets.” Seymour is also of the opinion that blockchain platforms offer a welcome change from the traditional offerings of a stock exchange. “It seems to me that the decentralization at the core of blockchain is interesting to those worried about a repeat of the financial crises driven by large, centralized institutions on Wall Street and elsewhere.”
Investing in an ICO carries risk, but for Seymour it’s important to analyze the risk of any investment. “Any time investors begin to trade or invest in a new asset class there are risks. They may not understand all of the aspects of the instruments and the market they are entering. For those taking the plunge into cryptocurrencies, the risks are exacerbated by the incredible volatility in the markets.” He also points out that unlike the ‘closing bell’ CNBC reports on, crypto never sleeps. “Cryptocurrency trades 24/7, so investors can face losses even while they sleep. Algorithms never sleep so they can trade out of markets when they begin falling at any point.”
Blockchain – built to last?
As Seymour describes it, Blockchain is successful because it ‘cuts out the middleman’. “It is so popular because of its transparency, accuracy and cost reduction by cutting out third parties. Each transaction, or ‘block’, is recorded and transparent and then as the transaction is validated, it forms a ‘chain’ or network for approval. As the block is added to the chain, a permanent and transparent ledger is kept. We can see fund transfers and vote casting all happening with blockchain in the future.
“Of course, there are challenges ahead,” Seymour adds, pointing to regulatory issues and the complex technology involved. “But it’s the future – no doubt about that. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are going to change the world, especially the world of finance and banking. I am convinced that the transformative nature of blockchain will have a substantial, sustained and enduring impact on our world and that this will lead to the growing importance of tokens as a valuable, if volatile, asset class. I can see how whole industries – not least the financial services industry – will be disrupted, providing an opportunity for many to profit by finding ways to participate in the disruption. I can see, too, that this disruption will bring huge benefits to humans all over the world, particularly those who are underserved by financial institutions and lack access both to the basic financial instruments so central to modern Western life and to sources of capital to build and grow businesses.”
As investment advisor, Seymour is now on a mission to make algo-trading more commonplace. “My goals are to help popularize the use of trading algorithms as an investment product on the broader market, from hedge funds to family offices to individuals. I see Tradingene as the future of trading. Algorithmic trading is a game changer and investors will be drawn to its transparency and accessibility.”
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.