How ZISHI is preparing students for the derivatives trading world

With support from ICE and Mako, ZISHI is teaching the art of trading to students from diverse backgrounds

19 September 2023


ZISHI, a provider of financial services training and qualifications, is working with a growing number of universities in the UK to provide undergraduate and postgraduate courses to prepare students for the financial trading world.

Already supported by market players such as Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and options market maker Mako Trading, ZISHI is looking for more firms in the derivatives industry to support its efforts as it expands its trading courses to more universities and advances in its mission to provide "financial education for all."

Robert Russell, ZISHI's global head of professional trader qualifications, says the company is helping to break down traditional barriers to entry in the financial services sector by teaching graduates from a wide range of backgrounds the skills they need to work on the trading floor.

The London based company – the former training arm of prop trading group OSTC before being spun out as a separate business last year – offers derivatives trading training and qualifications to both companies and students. ZISHI's courses are delivered by a global network of trainers and practitioners, each with decades of experience in the financial markets.

Russell says the company branched out five years ago to teach university students after collaborating with the Sheffield Business School at Sheffield Hallam University. At that time, Sheffield Hallam was looking to launch the UK's first undergraduate degree course in financial trading. This launched in 2019 and has gone from strength to strength, Russell says.

The university, in collaboration with ZISHI, launched a financial trading masters programme in 2022. Since then, several universities including those in Bath, Durham, Loughborough and Reading have signed up for ZISHI to teach their students the art and nuances of financial trading.

"The courses are highly immersive, challenging and designed with purpose, stretching the students to become professionally competent and work-ready. They build industry-required skills and knowledge and, importantly, behaviours," Russell says.

ZISHI designs, writes, and delivers accredited, regulated financial qualifications programmes, ranging from Level 2 qualifications to professionally competent Level 7 Advanced Diplomas.

In addition to undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Sheffield Hallam, ZISHI is working in partnership with ICE Education, the financial training arm of the exchange group, to deliver a Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Financial Trading as a summer school programme for students of all subjects. The programme is sponsored by the university, ZISHI, ICE and the Vocational Training and Charitable Trust, making it free for students to further increase accessibility.

With a heavy emphasis on practical application, ZISHI teaches students the fundamentals of trading in a simulated environment, where they can execute trades and strategies on front-end systems using real-time data.

"The students learn how the different derivatives markets operate and how to analyse market components," Russell says. "They learn how to analyse financial market data and trading patterns while understanding the greater macro and micro economic environment. By the end of the programme, they are able to trade a multitude of futures asset class products and get to grips with both market psychology and individual trading psychology."

In ZISHI summer enrichment programmes at Durham University Business School and the University of Bath School of Management, students are supported by Mako Trading, which provides its expertise in options market-making and volatility trading.

Through interactive trading sessions introducing delta hedging, options strategies, and position management, the students learn about technology within trading and use coding languages such as Python to assist in data analytics.

ZISHI is now looking for other companies in the derivatives space to support its future summer outreach programmes and be part of its financial educational for all initiative.

Firms can provide support through visiting students on the programmes, discussing their company and areas of finance, and by sponsoring student attendance.

"We also encourage sponsors to review student CVs and provide intern opportunities if that is possible. This is a great opportunity for firms to work with a rich and diverse talent pool with a flair and aptitude for trading," Russell says.

Companies providing support will help in advancing industry-led education and job opportunities to talented students from diverse, widening participation and lower socio-economic backgrounds, which will help create a positive change across the industry, he adds.

"This is a great opportunity to bring industry practitioners and academia together to support student development and pathways into the finance sector. Together we can pave the way for a more inclusive, empowered future within the sector," he says.

If your company is interested in supporting future programmes, please reach out to Robert Russell, global head of professional trader qualifications at ZISHI, at

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