Don Wilson Makes Gift to Support Financial Markets Program

The College and Career Advancement are thrilled to announce that the Financial Markets Program, one of the College’s signature pre-professional programs, will be able to continue supporting future generations of students thanks to a very generous $1 million gift from Donald R. Wilson, Jr., AB ’88, University Trustee, and founder and CEO of principal trading firm DRW. The College launched the Financial Markets Program to give students the tools and experience necessary to apply their UChicago education to a career in trading, financial modeling, or quantitative analysis. 

“The Financial Markets Program offers today’s students a unique and meaningful opportunity to explore careers in the financial markets,” said Don Wilson. “The program’s focus on the quantitative and technical skills sought after by industry employers ensures that students are well prepared to enter these careers and contribute positively to the markets. I’m proud to support the Financial Markets Program, and I look forward to continuing our firm’s partnership with this important program.”

 “The Financial Markets Program plays an absolutely crucial role in helping our students apply their skills in quantitative analysis and critical thinking that they learn from the College’s Core Curriculum to a professional career,” said John W. Boyer, Dean of the College and Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of History. “Because of Don Wilson’s generosity, this vital resource will benefit students for generations to come.”

“Don Wilson has made it possible for the next generation of College students to become leaders in quantitative finance,” said Meredith Daw, executive director of Career Advancement.  “The College and Career Advancement are profoundly grateful for his generous support for our students and the Financial Markets Program.”

The program has played a key role in responding to growing employer demand for students who have strong skills in both critical thinking and technical analysis. Financial Markets Program participants enjoy tremendous success in recruiting. The 2015-2016 academic year marked the 6th consecutive year with every student receiving a full-time job offer upon graduation. 

College students admitted into the program gain exposure to careers in quantitative finance through specialized courses, practical workshops, domestic and international treks, and connections with industry leaders.  According to Alexei Iouchkov, a Class of 2013 Financial Markets Program alumnus now employed at IMC Financial Markets, “The Financial Markets Program gave me a unique perspective on both the Chicago prop trading landscape, as well as the myriad trading philosophies that coexist in the field. Having the opportunity to visit and interact with professionals in the more quantitative areas of finance also allowed me to identify areas where my strong technical background could serve as a valuable asset.”

In addition to workshops and coursework, the program gives College students hands-on opportunities to practice trading and develop quantitative models. The Financial Markets Program organizes the annual Midwest Trading Competition, the nation’s primary algorithmic trading competition, challenging students to compete against top-tier schools across the nation and to engage in the trading community early on in their career.  

The competition draws interest from leading trading firms and hedge funds throughout the Midwest region, and provides competitors with hands-on experience in algorithmic trading.  It also serves as a great networking platform for both students and sponsoring firms. In addition to DRW’s support and strong partnership with the Financial Markets Program, the firm has also been engaged with the Trading Competition since its launch in 2013. Each year, the winning team is treated to a celebratory dinner with DRW traders and recruiters immediately following the competition. 

As students gain experience in the industry, they give back to the program by providing peer-to-peer mentorship to younger students.  Iouchkov said, “In my last year of the program, I leaned on my internship experience in trading to co-found UChicago's Midwestern Trading Competition and continued my involvement in the program post-graduation by mentoring the students in charge of designing the cases. Overall, I feel that the Financial Markets Program was instrumental in supplementing UChicago's strong academic program with practical industry experience and established a solid foundation for my career.”

With the continued partnership and support of Don Wilson and DRW, the Financial Markets Program will be able to support College students interested in trading for years to come. The College and Career Advancement thank Mr. Wilson for his generosity.