Thursday, September 29, 2005

So How does one become a Quant

Short answer (quote from a panelist): "DUMB LUCK"!!

It was a neat event put together by IAFE and Haas. The panel was moderated by Domingo Tavella (who also teaches in the MFE program). The other speakers were recent graduates as well as seasoned experts. While I can't go into the discussion at length, I quickly want to jot down some interesting tidbits.
  • Get ready for 14 hour work days (70 hour weeks), it could be working at work, or home, or on the subway, But it could be as much as 14 hours of brain work.
  • Ph.D.'s have a huge advantage for pure quant and research positions. As one of the panelists put it - A science or engineering Ph.D. coupled with a MFE is probably equal or more useful to employers than a finance Ph.D. Four out of six panelists had Ph.D.s
  • Whats up with all those questions on compensation.. and corporate culture. Looks like people have only 2 perceptions about fianance professionals - cut-throats and highly paid. However, there was some discussion on some quant groups being treated as cost centers at desks.
  • Financial engineering is slowing cutting across industry verticals - energy, insurance, etc.


Blogger shooGu said...

Hey, I've been enjoying your blog. I'm considering applying to the MFE.

I was at the panel discussion last night also, and thought it was really good (other than, as you mentioned, all the questions about compensation).

One question--what does the last part, about industry verticals, mean?

The discussion at the end about buy-side vs. sell-side was interesting. I hadn't heard about that dichotomy before.

Looking forward to more posts.

3:47 PM, September 29, 2005  
Blogger Quantjock said...


I think I met you at that seminar.. Let me say a word to see if it makes sense to you -"CAPM".

Anyways, "Industry verticals" is consultant jargon - providing solutions in industry verticals means industry-specific solutions

9:41 AM, September 30, 2005  
Blogger humananimal1 said...

Wow, 'dumb luck' -- that is how one becomes a quant. In addition to being much more interesting than the typical 'hard work' answer, Mark (either his first of last name) gave snapshots of work at different organizations and just being in the right place at the right time.

12:45 PM, October 01, 2005  
Blogger Quantjock said...


are you a current student?

3:31 PM, October 04, 2005  
Blogger derivativesgeek said...

how does one become a quant? well i doubt there is one way to say. just take mr derman's example. the famous quant who's book is entitled, "My Life as a Quant". The guy's book description on has a personal ancedote. Mr. Derman for the most part maxed out within the world of academia as a career researcher & professor. Aparently the returns on his investment (i.e. all his education in physics) were not all that he had hoped for. Suprisingly, Derman self assessed and compared his positions, and academic appointments at a mid-career level and said he felt like a "time-wasting" asset. Becoming less and less valuable as he approached the later have of his finite life. And thus, he went back to school, and received training in quant-finance. The equations and numeric methods are the same, so I'm sure it was easier for him to "Become a Finance Quant" than we may think

Others, such as us who are still in academic, working on our first PhD/Masters, etc will eventually add to the long line-up of industry practitioners & researchers. I think we are probably 10-20 years away from a saturation point. The Mortgage industry is entirely "trade" or "hedged", and there are many geo-political areas yet to be added to the global portfolio of "Integrated Markets".

- derivatives geek aka quantphd

7:13 PM, October 25, 2005  
Blogger derivativesgeek said...

i think in answering the above question we should also consider where we are in the larger scope of financial market's time evolution and development.

in the 1960s, to work on a trading desk all you needed was good math skills, and the ability to think quickly on your feet. with the introduction of computer technology, and the advancement of price discovery, hedging, and risk management issues, more training, more concepts, and more specialization are necessary.

so what does it take to become a quant? a heck of a lot more than it used to. so how does one become a quant? academic instruction, and industry experience. find your niche.

- derivatives geek aka quantphd

7:16 PM, October 25, 2005  

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