- Citadel X is a team of about 20 engineers who lead the user interface design for the fund’s technical tools.
- The team plays a key role as the front office needs more customized tools.
- Citadel X lead Christopher Baxter explained to Insider about the future of UI at Citadel.
Inside Ken Griffin’s Citadel is a small team of engineers known for building new tools in under an hour for a $57 billion hedge fund.
“If you want a new application that solves a very specific problem and you have a data feed for it, you can have an app prototype up and running in 5 to 10 minutes,” Citadel told an insider.
“Something could be very important on Tuesday, and we need to be ready to respond that same day to help the business,” Baxter said.
Baxter leads a group of about 20 engineers, known as the Citadel X team, responsible for the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) for the hedge fund’s entire tech stack.
Citadel X works with various in-house engineering and investment teams with the goal of making powerful hedge fund tools easier to use.
Team work varies. One day, UI engineers will be able to focus on ensuring that web app layouts are proportionate. Next, I am building new applications such as dashboards so that the trader and her PM can easily see their positioning.
Much of the work is also done behind the scenes, such as building connections between different applications to alleviate the need to switch between them, or cut and paste information from one app to another. It is done.
Citadel X’s work may seem unremarkable, but it has proven important as hedge fund employees require more complex and customized tools and analytics to stay ahead of the competition. I’m here.
How UI Improves Efficiency and Developer Productivity at Citadel
When Citadel X first formed in 2020, it originally served as a SWAT team. This group was called upon to assist other engineering groups with various backend and frontend challenges.
That mission continues today, albeit on a much larger scale. Some Citadel X engineers are now incorporated into desk teams to learn the inside and outside of the business and build new technology for them.
This group also builds a standardized framework shared across the company to help speed development time for other engineering teams.
Ross McKay, a front-end software developer for Citadel’s equity business, has built his team’s 30 applications into the Citadel X platform.
As a result, McKay’s team can focus on building for the business-specific needs of the equity front office, while Citadel X handles everything from the final delivery of the tools to the regular maintenance of the code. McKay said.
“A lot of guts that we no longer have to deal with. This took up a lot of engineering time over the course of the year,” McKay said.
Citadel X has grown in size and functionality as UI has taken to the forefront of Wall Street. User experience is more important than ever as traders and PMs increasingly rely on data and analytics to better understand the markets.
More information means more complexity, revealing the ubiquitous shortcomings of Excel, for example.
Stuart Slick, a technologist at Citadel for nearly a decade, told an insider that there had been a number of moves across the financial industry to try and move away from Excel.
“That’s definitely what Citadel has been focusing on,” he added.
“It has so many features, but it’s not necessarily the best tool for a particular professional or a particular critical workflow because it has too many features and too many operational risks. There are too many places you can go wrong.” It’s like cutting and pasting from sheet to sheet, said Salik, who now leads UI strategy as an engineer for Citadel’s global fixed income business.
Certainly, Excel isn’t going anywhere. Much like cash and checks in a digital-first world, traders, investors and bankers still rely on Excel. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that there are other, and potentially better, means to an end.
“People are thinking differently and creating so many Excel sheets locally that they are like, ‘How do we integrate functionality? You’d better think about ‘How do I create a really great application that runs?’
As Citadel moved beyond Excel, the Citadel X team spearheaded the development of the company’s so-called “next generation tool stack” applications that are simple, easy to use, visually appealing, and capable of handling massive streams of information. I’m here.
It’s both art and science. Some of the tools in that stack include multiple front office dashboards and risk and P&L monitoring tools. It also has an order management system that supports various cross-business functions, such as financials.
“There’s a lot of information, almost information overload, and it’s interesting to strike that balance. It’s about making sure it doesn’t cause problems when it needs to.There is a chance it’s a mistake,” Surik said.
Interoperability between applications and 24/7 access
Much of the work the Citadel X team is doing these days focuses on communication between apps, or how different tools work together.
Traditionally, technology has been divided into various trading strategies such as bonds, equities and commodities that operate independently of each other.
“It was very difficult for investment professionals to do when they had to work with different applications,” said Baxter.
Citadel X is now rolling out a new framework called Citadel One that can bring together applications built by different teams, Baxter said.
PMs typically need to analyze portions of the data in three different tools, requiring manual movement of information between applications. This is a time consuming process and can lead to incorrect data movement. Citadel One updates all three apps in real time.
Inter-app communication via Citadel One also streamlines workflow.
Thanks to Citadel One, stock traders looking through a list of eligible companies can speed up the process of placing orders.Right click on the company name in an app[Create place order]another app used for order entry automatically creates a draft with pre-filled information.
Baxter added that while the large project took months to launch, the prototype was released within two weeks.
Another priority for the Citadel X is its mobile capabilities. Markets operate 24/7, he said, and front office workers have a growing need to be able to respond in real time even when they are away from their desks, Baxter said. I’m here.
The challenge is to maintain high quality while avoiding rewriting the application from scratch for mobile. Baxter said this is a common problem when trying to support different types of operating systems.
“We’re starting to understand the approach here,” said Baxter. “I don’t have an answer to what we’re going to do yet, but it’s something that’s on my roadmap and something to be worked out soon.”