Finance, Trading and Programming: What Language Should You Learn?

July 5, 2017
Coding Python

Coding is the new literacy.

This topic is slightly different to the usual content, however I’ve been asked this question a lot recently so I thought I’d take some time to address it here.

What programming language should you learn for finance and trading?

If you’re new to coding, Python is the best language to learn for trading and financial applications. Python is one of the easiest languages to pick up due to it’s relatively simple readability and logic. Python is used widely throughout the industry, from retail traders through to hedge funds, and there are multiple libraries and platforms built specifically for it. For this reason alone, Python is my number 1 choice when it comes to strategy testing and development, and it’s becoming an industry standard.

When learning how to code, I found that doing is much better than simply reading or watching. I would hardly call myself a coder, however the number of excellent free resources out there has made the learning process relatively easy. Below is a list of resources that I’ve used over the last year or so:

CodeAcademy offers a great Python series in a very user friendly interface. Those with no experience will find it very useful, and it’s far more interesting than reading a textbook. The challenge is taking this basic knowledge and creating something specific for trading.

Youtube user Sendex has filled this gap by creating an amazing library of online tutorials. While they aren’t great for total beginners, his explanations and examples are fantastic for someone who is struggling to take their basic coding skills and build something that actually works. Fair warning, there’s a pretty big leap between the Code Academy stuff and Sentdex tutorials…but don’t let that scare you off, jump right in there.

Google. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. The thing is, if you’re trying to program something and it’s not working, chances are that someone else has experienced the exact same problem and has asked the internet for help. Coders are very keen to help each other, and there’s often detailed explanations online for most errors or problems. Stack Overflow is a great resource…just search your question and you’re likely to find an answer.

If you’re feeling confident and want to take your coding skills and apply them, check out Quantopian. The community there is amazing, the platform is great, and best of all, it’s totally free.

Best of luck on your coding journey. If you stick with it you’ll be rewarded, plus, at minimum it’s something else to add to your resume/CV.