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Washington and Lee Student Set to Compete in Nordic Trading Competition

Christian Zanetis ’16 will represent Washington and Lee University at the Nordic Trading Competition in Copenhagen, Denmark, this November.

When the accounting and business administration major from Long Island, N.Y. decided to study abroad in Copenhagen this past summer, he didn’t let the lure of summer travel interfere with his education. Working through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, he identified two classes that he wanted to take: Emerging Markets and Global Banking and Trading. Both courses transferred back as international business credit.

“I’ve been a numbers guy since my lemonade stand days,” said Zanetis, “When I was young, I was always selling stuff on eBay on the side.”

Zanetis went into his summer coursework with no experience in trading, but that quickly changed. The Global Banking and Trading class was led by Wayne Walker, managing director of Global Capital Market Solutions. In the course, students learned to use instruments such as the Bollinger Band, which measures the market’s volatility, and the RSI (Relative Strength Index) Indicator, which is used to determine whether a stock is being overbought or oversold.

Over the course of three weeks, Walker taught Zanetis and his classmates to look for trends and signals in the market. To create a classroom environment that mimicked live trading, students used SAXO Bank’s Web Trader Simulator, an Internet-based program that traders use to manage real portfolios.

“The great thing about the simulator is that it’s not using fake data,” said Zanetis. “It reflects real life fluctuations in the market.”

In addition to learning to use the simulator, Zanetis began following the news and paying attention to the economic calendar, particularly indexes such as the U.S. Housing Index. Zanetis began to see that if the number of privately owned homes in the U.S. rose, for instance, traders were likely to see that information as positive. Rising home purchases indicate an overall confidence in the market.

During the final week of the Global Banking and Trading class, Zanetis’ instructor took things a step further. Walker divided students into teams of two—Zanetis was paired with a student named Michele Hartmann from the University of Minnesota—and loaded each team’s simulator with $200,000 in fake cash. Then he gave them three hours to make as much money as they could. The competition ran from 1 to 4 p.m. (Central European Time), which gave the class the chance to trade on the Copenhagen, London and New York stock exchanges.

“We were tracking our profits minute by minute. I wanted to be confident in all my positions, so we were doing our research,” said Zanetis.

On the line was a fairly significant prize. The team that ended the competition with the largest profit would win a slot in the Nordic Trading Competition, an international competition that Global Capital Market Solutions runs each year. If Zanetis and Hartmann came out ahead, they’d be invited back to Copenhagen in November to compete amongst teams from Copenhagen Business School, Nanjing University in China, and other universities in Scandinavia.

Zanetis and Hartmann ended Walker’s competition with $207,106, making more than $7,000 in three hours and cinching first place. Back at Washington and Lee, Zanetis is working with faculty in the Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics to cram for the big competition. This time, he and Hartmann will have $1 million to invest and six hours to turn the largest profit.

It’s hard for Zanetis to believe how far he’s come in such a short time. The junior hopes to spend next summer completing a finance internship.

“If I want to be a financial advisor, these skills will definitely come in handy,” said Zanetis.