Student Finishes No. 2 Nationally in Trading Contest
May 7, 2010
A recent whirlwind weekend trip left Crystal Hu no time to play tourist on her first visit to New York City. She was too busy competing—and ultimately placing second—in a commodities challenge for college students.
The contest took place April 16 after close of business on the New York Mercantile Exchange trading floor, the one famous sight Hu did see firsthand.
“Being there is very exciting,” said the UT Dallas School of Management junior.
The NYMEX “open outcry” competition brought together about 110 student contestants from universities across the country. The trading-pit experience of frantically shouting and using sign language to seal deals on hypothetical oil contracts impressed Hu enough, she said, that she would consider returning as a professional.
That possibility occurred to her as the challenge, an annual event run by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group, came to a close. As Hu emerged from the fourth and final round of trading, a judge handed her his business card, no small gesture given that NYMEX member brokers officiated.
“If I’m given the opportunity, I’ll do it,” Hu said about the prospect of making a career as a floor trader.
School of Management finance faculty member Frank W. Anderson, who accompanied Hu and fellow UT Dallas competitor Joshua Bates to the challenge, rated their performances “magnificent.”
“Some of the judges thought [Crystal] won first,” he added. In fact, only a Villanova University student fared better, officially taking the top spot.
Hu, a finance and economics major, picked up $750 in prize money. Bates, a senior in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, made it to the finals but did not finish in the top 10.
Both students advanced to New York after doing well in a March 27 open outcry challenge at the University of Houston. There, Hu placed fifth (after finishing in ninth place a year earlier), and Bates placed seventh. School of Management senior Derek Connell, took first place and $1,000 in prize money at the Houston competition.
“It was a lot more people” in New York, Hu said, comparing the New York contest to its Houston counterpart. Being on the actual NYMEX trading floor, “the real place with real traders in the daytime,” added to the excitement, she said.
“The floor was crazy,” she recalled, and the hardest part of the challenge was “to listen.” About 20 student brokers went up against each other in each round, Hu said, “and they all had a loud voice.”
“I think it really takes a certain personality” to do floor trading. She added that she found the exercise a good way “to release all the pressure and frustration from school.”
Hu, Bates and all the UT Dallas contestants got involved under the auspices of the university’s Financial Leadership Association, a student organization based at the School of Management.