SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

JuniorStructurer
Topic Author
Posts: 52
Joined: June 30th, 2005, 7:50 am

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

I really do not get the fuss with being a quant here on this forum. Ok I understand some people just want to be a quant or are simply interested in maths but most from what I can see want to start out in quant role as a means to get into Trading or Structuring.Why not start in structuring or tading in the first place?First of all, being a quant devalues your CV in that quants are to some extent support staff and quants will usually only be considered for other quant type roles. If you therefore want front office type bonus then do not be a quant or start your career as a quant.I am amazed at all the poor advice regarding recommendations for courses from the likes of Birkbeck and Cass. Dont do it. You have a better chance of being a trader/structurer studying history at Oxbridge than a Phd or MFE at Birkbeck.I work at a Tier 1 IB in Credit Derivatives Structuring (yes I have so far dodged the bullets) and do not have a Maths degree nor do alot of my colleagues. Some of course do have maths degrees but we are usually only talking about a BSc at Cambridge and no MSc or Phd. We indeed do have one or two Phd's but most simply have a bachelors degree. I therefore find peoples fascination with Phds and multiple Masters courses bizarre as there is no need for it. 80% of any job is good experience and no Phd or MSc is going to give you this.I have no doubt that most of you folks are very intelligent but you are going about things incorrectly if you want to earn big money.I came on here to see how I could improve my Mathematical education and just wanted to provide some advice to folks who may not be aware of what is essentially a game with rules. As someone involved in the screening of Cv's for the structurering position we are currently recruiting for, any mention of the likes of Birkbeck, Cass, Kings and certain others will usually result in the CV being thrown in the bin even before careful analysis of the candidates work history. You have to remember that bankers are very elitist and the names mentioned simply portray an average candidate.
Last edited by JuniorStructurer on September 22nd, 2008, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jomni
Posts: 999
Joined: January 26th, 2005, 11:36 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

I don't know. I'm not a pure quant myself. I don't have any post grad degrees aside from my CFA charter (which is not a degree). And as the other guy said... I attribute most of my career progression (as risk manager) to experience. But I think my interest in quantitative stuff is also valuable and can give an edge in job hunting. But I'm not hardcore by the standards of some people here.I also want to know what drives some members to pursue hardcore quant knowledge and what they want to get out of it. Maybe it's not about wanting to be the richest banker? Maybe it's just the most profitable career for math geeks .
Last edited by jomni on September 22nd, 2008, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

twofish
Posts: 4944
Joined: February 18th, 2005, 6:51 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

QuoteI really do not get the fuss with being a quant here on this forum.Strangely enough, I don't either. The attraction of the job that I have is that I'm basically doing the work that I did when I was working as a Ph.D., and I'm getting paid reasonable amounts for it. However, different people have different motivations, but what is interesting is that I really get the feeling that a lot of people really don't know why they want something, which is a problem since what they want may not be what is promised.Quote I therefore find peoples fascination with Phds and multiple Masters courses bizarre as there is no need for it. 80% of any job is good experience and no Phd or MSc is going to give you this.It actually depends on the part of finance that you work in. For my area of finance, a Ph.D. in certain fields is very useful, not because of the credential (which is useless) but because it indicates that you have experience working with very complex numerical algorithms and are probably a decent programmer. Going for a physics Ph.D. is a good way of getting experience since they usually will pay you for writing numerical algorithms.QuoteI have no doubt that most of you folks are very intelligent but you are going about things incorrectly if you want to earn big money.There are a million ways of making big money. Even more ways of making decent money. I've found that it's usually a good idea not to focus too much on the money, because there are so many ways of making decent money, that you'll find something that lets you do what you want to do. Also, the trouble with focusing too much on the money, is that you end up trying to do what everyone else is doing to make money, and that usually doesn't make money.One other thing. I've found that people who want to make big money usually aren't that interested in money. They want something else, status, challenge, luxury, respect, power, fame, security or some unique combination of the above. This is important because if you want money for luxury, you will be (or should be) making different decisions than if you want money for security or power. QuoteYou have to remember that bankers are very elitist and the names mentioned simply portray an average candidate.You also have to remember that different parts in finance have very, very different cultures. One thing I like about the particular part of the woods that I ended up is that people *aren't* brand name conscious but are "elitist" in ways that I find good.

KackToodles
Posts: 4100
Joined: August 28th, 2005, 10:46 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

QuoteOriginally posted by: jomniMaybe it's just the most profitable career for math geeks . the most profitable career for math geeks is to do high level programming for a stat arb firm like Simons.

lrt1980
Posts: 46
Joined: February 23rd, 2007, 12:13 am

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

I'd hazard a guess that 80%-90% of the how do I become a quant' people are purely asking because they see jobs here and on quantfinancejobs that have 150K-275K attached to them. Money is very often the prime motivator.

gjlipman
Posts: 1102
Joined: May 20th, 2002, 9:13 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

If you only want to be a structurer or trader, then you should probably aim straight for that, and I agree that you certainly don't need a PhD for most of those jobs. But certainly, you'll be fighting a lot of people, and there is a significant element of luck as to whether you become rich.But, there are a lot of different people on this forum, and I'd say a lot of people are very happy in other finance roles, many of which are ones that require maths to a significantly higher level than a structurer or trader. These roles don't pay as much as the luckiest traders, but they certainly pay a very good salary on the whole, and partly because of the higher requirement, your chance of not making a good salary (and even unemployment) is a lot lower than in trading/structuring. And these are often roles that require fewer hours, which is appealing to a lot of people. There are some people who wouldn't mind ultimately being a structurer or trader, but are risk averse, to the point that they'd prefer to work as a quant, and hopefully work their way up to being a trader or structurer, but if they don't make it they won't mind. You make a valid point that working as a quant can reduce your chances of being attractive as a trader, but at least this way, if you don't make it, you've still got a good job that you like.And finally, there are people on this forum with very good financial maths skills, who don't have the drive/aptitude/personality to be a trader/structurer - there are things they can do to make their CV more attractive, but it just means they get a stage or two further before they get rejected.

mit
Posts: 1169
Joined: February 5th, 2005, 4:52 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

nice

StatGuy
Posts: 607
Joined: November 20th, 2007, 9:03 am

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

QuoteI'd hazard a guess that 80%-90% of the how do I become a quant' people are purely asking because they see jobs here and on quantfinancejobs that have 150K-275K attached to them. Money is very often the prime motivator. I have seen a few that have been advertised for 1M+ but I think to get these roles you either need to be lucky or be bright at what you do and for that area to suddenly be the next big thing. Having a PhD gives you more options in this line of work, but given the diversity of quant work it is not a strict requirement in all areas. SG

mit
Posts: 1169
Joined: February 5th, 2005, 4:52 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

JuniorStructurer, you didnt mention LSE??

engineerPhD
Posts: 6
Joined: December 15th, 2007, 12:36 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

For me at least coming from an Engineering/Physics background, applying as a quant is the only option. I'm not only going for the money, I want to move industries too, and quant roles seem to match my background and skill set. Although having said that maybe others don't agree that I match up, since even headhunters aren't returning my emails!

endian675
Posts: 143
Joined: March 11th, 2008, 7:09 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

twofish
Posts: 4944
Joined: February 18th, 2005, 6:51 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

QuoteOriginally posted by: lrt1980I'd hazard a guess that 80%-90% of the `how do I become a quant' people are purely asking because they see jobs here and on quantfinancejobs that have 150K-275K attached to them. Money is very often the prime motivator.And one question that I think a lot of people have is "how likely am I to get this salary." And the answer to that simple question is surprisingly complex

AbhiJ
Posts: 748
Joined: August 5th, 2008, 11:29 am

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

While its true that for graduate level front office jobs Oxbridge and LSE form the bulk but for pure quants job skills matter more than brand. If you are shabby at C++ ,Mathematics and don't know the finance concepts well then even if you are a topper at Oxford they aren't going to hire you for a quants role(for other roles you stand a good chance).Whether one wants to be a trader or a structurer or a quant is a matter of preference and shouldn't be generalised.

KackToodles
Posts: 4100
Joined: August 28th, 2005, 10:46 pm

### What is all the fuss with being a quant?

Do the majority of quants envision being a quant as a step to move into prop trading or management? I doubt anybody wants to be a quant permanently.

QFsurvival
Posts: 40
Joined: September 11th, 2008, 8:57 am