A little simple financial hacking can go a long way towards understanding. The goal is to be able to quickly gain intuition about new derivatives for which no pricing algorithm has yet been written.
- Once you've worked your way up to be the head of your own trading desk, there will come a time when you begin hiring people to work for you. How can you identify the useful ones in the flood of interns and assistants that will besiege you? Or, if you are an intern or an assistant, how can you elevate yourself above your competitors?
One simple assignment you can give everybody is to have them explore and evaluate an exotic option. There are dozens of standard exotics and hundreds more that are customized to clients. You can pretty easily assign different exotics to each of the different people so that everyone has to do their own work. And because most exotics do not have well-known, simple, closed-form solutions, this exercise will help.
- you gauge both the creativity and the determination of the people you have tasked with the challenge. Some will do a passable job. Some will make subtle mistakes. Some will make gross mistakes and not even notice. Some will go the extra mile and look at things from a new angle.