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cquasar
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Education advice for a wannabe quant

March 19th, 2019, 6:56 pm

Dear all,

I am new to Wilmott forums and this is my first post. I am a CS undergrad, worked as a software programmer for 6 years and then a brief stint of 2 years as a risk analyst at a bank. My age is 33.

I enjoy studying probability - games and paradoxes and the proving things from first principles in analysis. 

I enrolled myself for a open university BS Mathematics course and I am presently in the second year taking courses on : 
  • Vector calculus
  • ODEs
  • Real Analysis I
  • Numerical methods
  • Mathematical methods for Physics
I recently landed an internal job within my bank as a quantitative analyst in the quant-strats team. The de-facto programming language within my bank for modelling is F#.  

Upon initial discussion, they see me, becoming a modeller in the next 4-5 years, which was encouraging. I would rate myself a novice and an aspiring modeller. 

To that end, I am self-learning math, to get the math fundamentals right off the bat, before studying probability & I am practising C++. 

Would any gents and gals here have tips or advice on how I could further my career in quant finance, what courses/topics I should focus on? Is it possible to become a modeller without doing a PhD in mathematics? 

Thanks all!
 
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Cuchulainn
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Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

March 19th, 2019, 8:41 pm

Welcome to Wilmott.
Step over the gap, not into it. Watch the space between platform and train.
http://www.datasimfinancial.com
http://www.datasim.nl
 
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bearish
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Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

March 19th, 2019, 11:53 pm

You certainly don't need a math PhD to become a finance quant, whatever that may mean these days. And, vice versa, most math PhDs are entirely unsuited to be quants. It is helpful to have an engineering mindset, but that is hard to acquire through studying, although studying some engineering topics probably helps. The idea is to solve real problems, preferably in such a way that they stay solved, and that the effort you expended to solve them have some residual value. E.g., you wrote some code that can be reused in another project. It sucks to start with a blank spreadsheet each time somebody requests a solution! As an aside, if the local programming language of choice is F#, why practice C++? Why don't you leverage your CS background to become a master functional programmer? (And yes, I know you can do functional programming in C++, and that you can torture F# to support other paradigms, but we digress). It sounds like you are doing sensible things in terms of courses, although at some point you should probably start doing some work on the finance side of things. I also wouldn't necessarily want to hold off studying probability theory (and statistics) until you have done measure theory. Good grounding in calculus and real analysis goes a long way. And it would be useful to do a class on linear algebra, if you haven't already done so. 
 
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cquasar
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Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

March 22nd, 2019, 7:05 am

You certainly don't need a math PhD to become a finance quant, whatever that may mean these days. And, vice versa, most math PhDs are entirely unsuited to be quants. It is helpful to have an engineering mindset, but that is hard to acquire through studying, although studying some engineering topics probably helps. The idea is to solve real problems, preferably in such a way that they stay solved, and that the effort you expended to solve them have some residual value. E.g., you wrote some code that can be reused in another project. It sucks to start with a blank spreadsheet each time somebody requests a solution! As an aside, if the local programming language of choice is F#, why practice C++? Why don't you leverage your CS background to become a master functional programmer? (And yes, I know you can do functional programming in C++, and that you can torture F# to support other paradigms, but we digress). It sounds like you are doing sensible things in terms of courses, although at some point you should probably start doing some work on the finance side of things. I also wouldn't necessarily want to hold off studying probability theory (and statistics) until you have done measure theory. Good grounding in calculus and real analysis goes a long way. And it would be useful to do a class on linear algebra, if you haven't already done so. 
Thanks bearish, this was insightful & certainly helpful!
 
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rmax
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Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

July 29th, 2019, 5:54 pm

Dear all,

I am new to Wilmott forums and this is my first post. I am a CS undergrad, worked as a software programmer for 6 years and then a brief stint of 2 years as a risk analyst at a bank. My age is 33.

I enjoy studying probability - games and paradoxes and the proving things from first principles in analysis. 

I enrolled myself for a open university BS Mathematics course and I am presently in the second year taking courses on : 
  • Vector calculus
  • ODEs
  • Real Analysis I
  • Numerical methods
  • Mathematical methods for Physics
I recently landed an internal job within my bank as a quantitative analyst in the quant-strats team. The de-facto programming language within my bank for modelling is F#.  

Upon initial discussion, they see me, becoming a modeller in the next 4-5 years, which was encouraging. I would rate myself a novice and an aspiring modeller. 

To that end, I am self-learning math, to get the math fundamentals right off the bat, before studying probability & I am practising C++. 

Would any gents and gals here have tips or advice on how I could further my career in quant finance, what courses/topics I should focus on? Is it possible to become a modeller without doing a PhD in mathematics? 

Thanks all!
The world is changing. What was good being in capital markets 20 years ago probably isn't the same now, and I see that be a continued downward trend. By all means try this route if you are interested in the subject. Don't go down this route if you think that your career will follow the same as those who are hiring you. The world is changing.

Note note education but pffff.
 
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katastrofa
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Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

August 3rd, 2019, 2:07 pm

Re PhD:
Find an interesting problem, solve it, publish your results in a respectable journal (it can take you one year or longer). If you can do this, you're better than most today's PhDs. Doing a PhD just for the sake of getting the degree doesn't make sense, imho.
 
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ISayMoo
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Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

August 8th, 2019, 8:49 am

Find an interesting problem, solve it, publish your results in a respectable journal (it can take you one year or longer). If you can do this, you're better than most today's PhDs. 
He/she can do it AND get a PhD for it :)
 
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liam
Posts: 175
Joined: November 16th, 2004, 11:51 am

Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

December 12th, 2019, 5:57 pm

You certainly don't need a math PhD to become a finance quant, whatever that may mean these days. And, vice versa, most math PhDs are entirely unsuited to be quants.
Sorry to piggy back, bearish, but this is a good point to start on.
OP, when you see requirements like a PhD on a job spec understand that it's indicative. In theory a PhD would be someone that has worked on a problem closely linked to finance and therefore more suited than someone that learnt finance in a masters course. For example a college classmate did a PhD on properties of matter where the processes he used were linked to how market microstructure works.
Firstly that has changed drastically as what quants do has changed. Secondly in reality a lot of PhDs are unsuited for quant finance as they don't take to not working constantly with "pretty models". It's a frigging job FFS.
And many PhDs I've known are often clowns panting as they struggle to finish off their PhD thesis. I knew one who was finishing off a Physics PhD in Imperial but could tell from the garbage she came out with that she was hopelessly mismatched for being a quant and out of her depth. I mean, I expect some naivety but sheesh!!! Last I knew she was doing a job leafleting after just about finishing her thesis off. Completely no gumption at all. I don't know if it's most PhDs that are like this or if most MSc aren't but there is an issue definitely and employers will spot it if you have it.
At least that's the generalism. In reality there are many competent PhDs and many incompetent MSc grads. Main thing to realise is that the only difference is the time taken, so I'd only do a PhD if you actually wanted to spend those 5 years doing the research, don't do it for the sake of "getting a job".
It's a question of what can you do. Publish as others have said and/or even just post something USEFUL on github that could actually be used - this is what developers in CS/programming areas do anyway and if you are a math/physics oriented person your portfolio will be easily 1000 times better than some of the basic "hello world" shite I see on most people's githubs.
Some employers put in PhD requirements for the sake of it (there is an ego thing in certain banks), which means they'll ignore your application if you are an MSc, but what that meant for me is I ended up starting off at an employer which knew what they were doing and which helped me in my first few years in finance.
 
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Cuchulainn
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Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

December 30th, 2019, 5:13 pm

In Battle to Recruit New Quants, Hedge Funds Outpay Banks

https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-battle- ... 1577646001


A new survey from Baruch College’s financial engineering program found that recent graduates working at hedge funds made significantly more than their peers working at banks. Baruch’s master’s program teaches students skills like data science and financial modeling.
Step over the gap, not into it. Watch the space between platform and train.
http://www.datasimfinancial.com
http://www.datasim.nl
 
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bearish
Posts: 5700
Joined: February 3rd, 2011, 2:19 pm

Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

December 30th, 2019, 10:50 pm

It is truly amazing what Dan Stefanica & co have built and sustained at Baruch. This is a college which when mentioned in the same sentence as Princeton, MIT and Columbia, such sentence would probably go along the lines of "Unlike such major US universities as Princeton, MIT and Columbia, Baruch College..." (with apologies to the ghost of Douglas Adams). 
 
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Cuchulainn
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Re: Education advice for a wannabe quant

December 31st, 2019, 12:56 pm

Dan is one of my heroes!
Step over the gap, not into it. Watch the space between platform and train.
http://www.datasimfinancial.com
http://www.datasim.nl
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