The University of Southampton

Physics student impresses at SEPnet Expo with new insight into financial risk takers

Published: 17 December 2018
(l-r) Ria Pandit, University of Southampton, Benjamin Shellswell, Royal Holloway, Professor Sir William Wakeham, Executive Chair SEPnet. Image courtesy of SEPnet.

University of Southampton student Ria Pandit has drawn praise for her study of gender in financial trading in a research placement presentation at the 10th South East Physics Network (SEPnet) Student Expo.

The third year BSc Physics student was awarded a poster prize sponsored by the Institute of Physics at the London event which celebrated the achievements of over 70 students’ industry placements.

Ria worked with FinTech research and development company AlgoLabs this summer and analysed the risks taken in the trade of foreign exchange to see if there was a correlation with gender.

“It has been really interesting to work with this project partner and it feels amazing to be rewarded for our hard work,” Ria says. “We were given real customer data and chose six elements which we thought were crucial in deciding how much risk a person took whilst trading.

“Having given them all a weighting, we developed an algorithm which gave everyone a personalised risk score based on their past trading behaviour. These risk scores could then identify whether one gender took greater risks than the other and if this led to greater profits.”

The study concluded that there was a positive correlation between risk and profit but – contrary to many psychology studies – found that that men and women tend to take similar amounts of risk.

“There is a perception that men take significantly greater risks than women but this wasn’t consistent with our observations,” Ria adds. “We would like to fine tune this research and publish it at a conference, however for now that is far in the future.”

The SEPnet Student Expo brought together over 140 students, employers and academics at the One Park Crescent conference centre and included a talk from former SEPnet placement student Ricardo Mighty, now of the London Block Exchange. The outcomes of over 70 student projects were shared through presentations and posters, culminating in seven poster prizes.

Ria is on the committees for the University’s physics society (Physoc) and the Women’s Physics Network, and is a keen rower at the Southampton University Boat Club.

“My time at Southampton has been a well-rounded one and I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” she says. “My course has been really challenging yet rewarding and the academic staff are always very helpful.”

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