Meet The Pro
Imran Lakha has hands-on experience in using institutional options strategies to capitalize on investment opportunities across global macro assets classes.
Using the real world expertise that he has built over two decades of trading, Imran demonstrates how investors can better position themselves to leverage their capital for maximum returns while protecting their portfolios from downside risk.
For 20+ years Imran traded options for major institutions like Citi and Bank of America where he ran their European Options trading desks. He achieved his first degree in Mathematics, a second degree from the London School of Economics and began his career at Credit Suisse First Boston.
Options Trading Can Be Learned
The idea behind Options Insight was to fuse my passion for trading with my passion for teaching.
I trained many junior traders over the years and knew I was good at it. Explaining what appeared to be very complex topics and intricate strategies in simple understandable terms for traders gave me a real sense of satisfaction.
Options Insight is a way for me to give back and teaching was something I always wanted to do. The idea of bringing real hands-on institutional options trading knowledge to the general audience and giving ordinary investors access to professional finance strategies filled me with excitement and a sense of purpose that is unlike working for the big banks.
Founder and CEO
I was born in 1979, the youngest of three sons to immigrant parents who moved to England in the 1960s.
From an early age, I was exposed to mathematics as my dad was an accountant and my older brothers would tutor me on weekends. It quickly became clear that I had an inquisitive mind and an aptitude for numbers, which kind of ran in the family. Maths became a bit of a game to me, and by the time I went to junior school, I was way more advanced than my peers and the teachers were struggling to find anything challenging for me.
Fortunately my school was next door to a senior school and they allowed me to take my maths lessons with the older kids who were preparing for their GCSEs (which is normally taken at age 16). Thus, by age 11 (four years ahead of my class) I had passed my maths GSCE achieving a grade of A. My face was immediately plastered over the local newspapers and I was being called things like “BRAIN CHILD” and “WHIZZ KID”.
It was all terribly embarrassing because I was much younger than my older brothers and quite a social child who liked to make friends. All this publicity made me look like a bit of a freak and so I preferred to downplay it, and carry on as typical kid my age. I didn’t really want my academic achievements to define who I was, and deep down I just wanted to be treated like a normal kid and do what kids do, like play sports and computer games. I found that I was able to relate to all types of groups, the geeks, the popular sporty kids, and even sometimes the bullies.
Having passed the GCSE so early, I continued to progress to A level maths and pushed even further taking the exams at 13 & 14 years age and achieved the highest A grade again. Those results brought me to a crossroads where I was considering going to Cambridge University, four years before the normal age and really look like a “freak”. Or, find a way to stay at regular school and keep progressing with my maths studies. We approached the Open University, a remote learning institution that normally caters to mature students, and they made an exception and allowed me to do a maths degree whilst staying on at school and doing my other subjects as normal teenager.
By the time I was ready to go to regular University and move away from home, I had already achieved a First Class maths degree. I had been encouraged by some teachers to look into academia to really progress my maths, but my father had always instilled in me the goal of working hard and attaining financial security. This is what motivated me to study economics at the well-known London School of Economics (LSE), and an obvious path into finance, where I could use my mathematics skills to make money and build wealth.
After finishing LSE with a First in Economics, I applied to all the banks for their graduate training programs. I was shocked by how many rejections I got, despite having 2 First Class degrees. I got an internship at UBS in FX spot trading, but it seemed a bit too basic and many of the main traders were very old school, “Barrow Boy” types, who had not come from academic backgrounds. I was more analytical and wanted to use my maths skills, which led me towards options trading. Fortunately I got to spend a week with the FX options traders at UBS and fell in love with the product. This is what I wanted to do, I was confident I could be good at it. I didn’t get an offer from UBS, because the spot guys could see I wasn’t motivated and the options guys were full. I finally managed to land a job with CSFB, after a grueling day of 16 interviews, where they gave me an offer to join their graduate training program in equity derivatives.
The first year was painful. I worked as trainee on the equity exotics desk and was mentored by some of the biggest geeks on the floor. They had not social skills or desire to teach. I sucked it up and did my time and finally got a shot on the vanilla index desk. This was a more commoditized product and so you had to know how to interact with people as well as think and act quickly. I found my footing and became one of the most profitable junior traders on the floor within a few years. My success largely came from my ability to communicate well with others on the floor, share information as well as dip my toes into other interesting things. I was open minded and wanted to soak in as much information as I could from other experienced traders. I wasn’t scared to take risk or dabble in asset classes that were new to me, and this developed my passion from cross asset trading.
After establishing myself as the head FTSE trader at CS, I was poached by my ex-boss to Merrill Lynch and was given the FTSE book there, which was a much bigger deal. They had huge institutional flows which I would need to manage and run bigger risk than I was used to. I was number 2 on the desk in 2008 which was a very volatile time and we had a record year making $280m. that was more than we could ever have imagined. After that staggering result, my boss got offered a job to run the US index business and I was asked to head up Europe. I never really wanted a management role, but gave it a go nonetheless.
As head of the desk, I was constantly being pulled away to meetings and my time was no longer spent focusing on trading and making money, which is what I was good at. This is a mistake made by banks, they promoter good traders so that they can pay them more, but those traders then stop trading and manage people, which is not necessarily something they are good at.
After a couple of years in management, I was very burnt out and decided to put my hand up for redundancy and travel the world with my wife. I had been in the game for 10 years and needed a break. When I came back, I wanted to try my hand at a hedge fund, because it was the risk taking part of the job that I had really loved. I couldn’t manage to find a seat, so ended up returning to Citibank thanks to one of my former bosses.
Within a couple of years I found myself running the European options desk again, the exact role that I hadn’t wanted. It paid well, so I put up with it, until I got the chance to go to the buyside at Bluecrest Capital. I had always wanted to try my hand at a hedge fund. However, when I got there I realized how much I enjoyed the energy and buzz of a big bank trading floor. At the fund, it was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop and that was not an environment in which I could thrive. My time on the buy side was short lived and in late 2018 I founded Options Insight.
We Know Risk
Options strategies enable you to improve your risk-adjusted returns and be a more successful investor.
We Break it Down
Options have been made to feel too difficult and complex for the average person to trade, but this isn’t true—anyone can learn.
We’re On Top Of The Market
Learn how to analyze the market and make higher quality trades, especially during periods of volatility.
We Are Transparent
Imran reveals the trades he implements for his own portfolio, what’s working, what’s not working, and how he makes adjustments.