Stony Brook Student Wins Worldwide Investing Contest
Mohit Verma, a double major in Information Systems and Applied Mathematics and Statistics, was the winner of the top prize in TopTradr.com’s "University Challenge," a wolrldwide virtual investing competition that ended in December. Mohit was awarded $10,000 for graduate school and an eight-week internship with Amplified Trading, a hedge fund in London, after he edged out 10,000 other active traders remaining in the one-month competition.
"There were 25 or 30,000 participants at the beginning," says Mohit, who graduated in December. "They were from universities all around the world. It was a very intense competition, very high-pressure."
Since winning the prestigious contest, Mohit has been fielding nonstop offers from hedge fund companies and banks. With a job at Citigroup in New York set to begin this month, Mohit has pretty much decided on his path, although it will mean forfeiting the internship in London. But he is still rethinking his options.
It’s what they call a high-class problem.
The University Challenge involved trading on commodities such as gold, silver, copper and oil, using currencies such as the euro, Great Britain’s pounds and Swiss francs. All of the trading was done through the foreign exchange, which is open 24 hours a day, five days a week. Mohit managed his portfolio for as many as 15 hours a day.
"I started with a virtual account of $50,000,” he explains. “The account was monitored by the sponsoring companies. An algorithm calculated our performance, which was based on low-risk and high-rewards trading with a consistency of equity growth. In other words, if I kept making money despite the ups and downs, my score went up."
"I had to make all my decisions based on my own analysis and forecasting, and I had to stick with my decisions. I always had to be prepared for a variety of outcomes and be able to bring my account back up."
At the end of one month, Mohit had increased his account to $97,000.
All of this happened while he attended class, studied for finals and wrote papers. There were nights when he didn’t sleep because of volatility in the market. During the last week, which was finals week, Mohit was in the top 10. On the last day, he moved up to fifth place, then fourth. Rankings kept changing within the group.
"I handed in my final paper at 9:00 a.m., came back to my desk and started trading," he says. "I didn’t know I was the winner until I got an email saying, 'Congratulations!'"
If he goes with Citigroup, an investment bank, Mohit a will be working on the technology trading site. And after that? He shrugs and says he’s not worried. Meanwhile, he’s enjoying his status as TopTrader’s top university trader, bar none.
'I worked hard for this," he admits. 'It feels really good."
By Toby Speed; photo by John Griffin