Jakub Rojček comes from Zilina in Slovakia and he graduated as a Bachelor at the IES in 2008. At the same time, he also gained a bachelor's degree at the University of Economics in Prague. Jakub continued with his studies in Germany at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn, and in 2010 he achieved his MSc. in Bonn. In 2010, Jakub started with his Ph.D. studies at the University of Zürich in Switzerland, and this year, this study was successfully completed. In his research he focused on topics like Market microstructure, High-frequency Trading, Quantitative Finance and Asset Pricing. He also spent several months as a Research Assistant in Vancouver, Canada in 2015. In addition to regular studies he attended several summer schools, such as the Summer School in Quantitative Finance in Prague or Complex System Summer School in Santa Fe, USA. Jakub gathered his working experience already during his undergraduate studies, either as a research assistant of Professor Karel Janda, or as an Operations Analyst at Wood & Co., while there he later worked as a Business Analyst. After successful completion of his doctoral studies Jakub stays in Switzerland and since June 2016 he joined LGT Capital Partners as an Asset Allocation Analyst.
You studied at the IES the undergraduate program. At this time you started to work as the Research Assistant at CU. What exactly did this mean and which qualities or skills must a student have when he wants to reach a position like this?
When I was studying at CU during my bachelor studies, the research assistantship was considered a small scholarship, giving the student additional motivation to write a good thesis and go through the peer review process after it was finished. With Prof. Janda, we thus managed to produce a publication out of the bachelor thesis, meaning that the purpose was reached. This experience helped to form my expectations about the work in research and drive my curiosity. This naturally resulted in me continuing at the University of Bonn, which produces very good research across economic disciplines. But I suppose the research assistantships work differently now. At the University of Zurich, we give away similar scholarships, in form of part-time employment. In this way, the students can become acquainted with teaching and get interested in research already during their bachelor studies. It’s of course a two-way loop, enabling senior researcher to get more feedback on their teaching work and get fresh ideas.
You have finished your studies of PhD this year in Zurich, what was the topic of your research; could you sum it up and explain it to us a little bit?
Yes, this was the year to enjoy the fruits of the past five years of research and coursework. The goal of my dissertation was to understand what speed and latency mean for trading in the financial markets. In other words, my thesis revolved around the topic of high-frequency trading, which depending on venue, represents 20-60% of trading volume. With my co-authors, we raised several questions, mainly about what these man-programmed extremely fast information processing machines, with high artificial intelligence, mean for the other traders, a kind of man vs. machine story. We studied two theoretical models, one very complex, which also addressed the question of whether and how the high-frequency traders should be regulated; and one which was very specialized on one variable and that was the size of the order traded and the associated price impact in presence of fast traders. Then we moved to millisecond stamped data from U.S. equities, trying to understand what is the impact of sudden bursts in the number of quotes and how they affect the stock prices. Overall, we found that conditional on enough competition among high-frequency traders, they improve the market quality and decrease transaction costs for other traders, however, we also saw, that some strategies, relying on bursts in quotes, can manipulate the prices in specific direction.
You have recently started to work as an Asset allocation analyst at LGT Capital Partners in Switzerland. Which are your future plans? Are you going to continue with your academic career, or do you plan to stay solely in the business?
I was always somewhere in between. Trying to answer real questions in academia or trying to bring research results to practice. The advantage of what we do at LGT is that we do both. There is the time and scope to rigorously follow questions, answering which will improve the long-term profitability for our clients, or enable us to better understand what we see in the markets; and then there is also the interesting daily business of optimizing clients’ portfolios, back testing trading strategies, providing research on short term bets and living what the markets bring. Some of the research that we do, could find its place in academic journals, and I am very much looking forward to this academic/industry communication in seminars, conferences or by cooperating with academics and students directly. On the other hand, writing relevant academic papers is a very time demanding job, so the publishing frequency is expected to decrease, but for start, the dissertation work deserves to get out.
You are diving, how did you start with this hobby and when, and what is your major achievement?
My father took me on a boat trip in Croatia, which was part of NAUI Open water diver course. I was eleven back then. It was an unforgettable experience. I loved physics and we got to study a lot of it during the course, along of course, learning to dive. Sometimes we slept on the deck of the boat watching the stars and every day when we docked, we went for ice coffee. I don’t think diving is a sport in which people would necessarily need to trade their achievements, doing so can quickly bring one to the red zones. Anyways, I wanted to become a diving instructor, so I pursued the certification and ended up as a PADI Dive master. At times when the going gets tough, memories of sunsets on a boat after submerging to the colorful and lively reefs, give one the fresh push.