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player
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Posts: 2290
Joined: August 5th, 2002, 10:00 am

PhD or no PhD

September 1st, 2002, 4:25 pm

Dear AllI have just finished an MPhil in Financial engineering and want to work in the quantiative area and I am wondering is a PhD really necessary? Any advice will be welcome. I have very little knowledge of programming and have no prior work experience of working in this field. I do have a position available at Imperial to study a PhD in mathematical finance and will also be able to work with a bank over the next three years. Also if anyone would be kind enough to give me any possible topics they consider would be worthwhile studying and researching over the next three years I would be most grateful.K
 
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matt247ryan
Posts: 111
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

PhD or no PhD

September 1st, 2002, 5:21 pm

Firstly, congratulations on completing your MPhil and getting your PhD place! Secondly, coincidence! I started a similar thread a couple of weeks ago but got no responses! I too am contemplating a PhD in financial mathematics. Like you, I also have a masters. the only difference sa that I haven't been offered a PhD place. I haven't applied, yet.Do you need a Phd? You probably know the answer as well as anyone! If you want to be a research quant, you know, making up the models, then probably yes. If however, you'd be happy trading derivatives, then probably no.Here's an interesting, related question...Scenario: two candidates for a quant position. One has a PhD in financial maths and the other a PhD in string theory. Who is the more attractive? A silly question? Perhaps not. A sketch should clarify...Interviewer: Hello Mr PhD in financial maths! Please have a seat! Cuban?Mr Fin Math: Eh no, Dutch Irish. Sir, I'd just like to say, I'm a big fan of yours, I've read all your papers and I think you're the-I: Yes yes yes, enough of that! Tell me, why should I hire you?M: W-what? But, I, I did a PhD in this subject! It took me three years! God no! No! I'm sorry please wait! Please, I want to be like you. Here let me light that-I: Enough of this, for goodness sake stop pandering man! And tidy yourself up! We'll be in touch! Goodbye!...Miss Winner, send in Mr String Theory now, goddammit, what do I pay you for!I: Hello, Mr String Theory! Mr String Theory: Yes, greetings!I: Sorry about the mess. So, why should I hire you? Cuban, by the way?Mr: Don't mind if I do. Why should you hire me? Ha ha ha. Well, let's see, with my PhD in string theory you know I'm smart enough. Plus I don't pander like that blubbering fool I just met crying in the lift! I didn't know whether to buy him a stiff drink or smack him! No, you see I'm a free spirit in the best tradition, maverick yet brilliant!I: Ha ha ha ha ha, that's the spirit! I like you boy, you're hired!
 
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lazy
Posts: 45
Joined: August 20th, 2002, 1:29 pm

PhD or no PhD

September 2nd, 2002, 1:36 am

PlayerYour choice is exactly like should I sit now in a chair or should I wait. I explain myself if you have the opportunity to work in the "quant" area grab it now. As you might have realised the quant area is more like an arena currently. They ask you for sharpen skills, deep understanding of financial matters and the underlying mathematical problems whithout speaking of the programming ability...Some people take a PhD track as they want to get ready for this...However the main thing they forget is that the area evolves at the same time...If you think you lack something don't be so sure that you will be perfect in three years...at least perhaps not as perfect as if you would have been working from now...Experience as you might read in the advertisements for quant jobs is indeed essential...Also under the name of quantitative area there are a lot of jobs.It depends what you exactly want to do...In my view a Phd grade should be gained because you either have a theoritical approach or have a concise idea of your target. Lets for example consider the following jobs, they don't need in any case a PhDQuantitative Trader, arbitragist, structurer or financial engineer, developer...In my view people with a PhD are only needed when a bank is willing to have a strong proprietary research with in-house soft. They do interact with the academical research. Of course no doubt that heads of quantitative research are PhD's in most of the banks but there are few vacancies you will agree and they usually need people with a master degree to work with. They do insist on recruits being good mathematical/financial modellers, and they can enter the quant group straight from an undergraduate course if they have these skills. Moreover people forget that a quant job is only a step ....My only concern with beginning a PhD is when one should stop. Maybe you can try to start working in a bank to see by yourself whilst beeing hedgeg by beginning your PhD. By the way I had a glance at the program of the Msc in Mathematics and Finance at Imperial it appears to be largely sufficient even for a quant willing to make models if that is your willing.
 
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player
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Joined: August 5th, 2002, 10:00 am

PhD or no PhD

September 2nd, 2002, 12:22 pm

Dear AllMany thanks to everyone who replied to my earlier notice regarding the subject of "Phd or no PhD" esp to matt. However, I think I should make myself clear that the PhD offer that I have been given will allow me to work with a firm for three or four days a week over a three year period during which time I will also be working on my PhD. The firms in questions will either be the major banks or other blue chip firms with risk or finance departments. I aim to focus my PhD on interest rate models or on path-dependent options although not quite sure which.I have tried to apply for work in a quant or risk role but as yet have had no luck despite the fact that my masters was very mathematical ie covered alot of stochastic work. I am often told that I lack the necessary computer knowledge in this area and also lack experience.I am therefore stuck with a dillema do I apply for work in other roles which are less mathematical ie analyst, actuary or go on to study for the PhD. My personal inclination is that if I were to obtain a sponsor with a major bank or blue chip firm working in their quant or risk area for three years, by the time I finish my Phd in 3 or 4 years I will not only have the experience but also have the computer and mathematical knowledge to allow me to apply and excel in a number of quant roles be they trading, research or indeed structuring.Your views in this area would be again most wellcomek
 
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gjlipman
Posts: 1102
Joined: May 20th, 2002, 9:13 pm

PhD or no PhD

September 3rd, 2002, 6:34 am

If it was a choice of a straight PhD or a good quant job that you had been offered, it would be a reasonably tough choice. You would learn a lot in a PhD (although much may not be completely practical or real world oriented) and it would be a good market signal that you were bright. On the other side, if you are bright, you will go a long way in the quant job, and 3 years experience there may be as good as a PhD anyway (particularly if you keep doing a bit of self study/research rather than just doing the same job each day).However, in your case the PhD you have been offered would be very practically oriented (presumably being a real world problem that a company had a commercial reason for wanting solved). At the end of 3 or 4 years (when you had your PhD) you would be just as desirable as anyone who had worked as a quant for 3 or 4 years, plus you'd have your PhD. And with a high degree of probability you'd be able to stay on at the company where you had been working (if you couldn't get anything better). So I'd say, if you could get such a work/study position, it would have a lot of merit (the only downside compared with a full time job being the slightly lower pay). And if your alternative is a less desirable job, well, all the more reason for doing a PhD.Congratulations on the offer.
 
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matt247ryan
Posts: 111
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

PhD or no PhD

September 3rd, 2002, 11:58 am

Hold on, did you say you'll focus either on interest rate or path-dependent models? because if you did then this is getting very strange indeed! You see, for my masters, I tackled a path dependent interest rate model! Freaky! Do you also like chinese food?
 
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Anton
Posts: 297
Joined: July 11th, 2002, 3:53 pm

PhD or no PhD

September 3rd, 2002, 4:11 pm

Dear player, Since you don't ave an offer for a Quant job in hand, I would advise you to take the PhD offer from Imperial - though I don't really liek that sort of PhD's...Best,Anton
 
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player
Topic Author
Posts: 2290
Joined: August 5th, 2002, 10:00 am

PhD or no PhD

September 3rd, 2002, 7:02 pm

Dear AntonJust wanted to know why dont you like the quantitative finance Phd? Is it something personal....? I thought that this would be the best to get into this area?K
 
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Anton
Posts: 297
Joined: July 11th, 2002, 3:53 pm

PhD or no PhD

September 4th, 2002, 8:05 am

Sorry, I didn't make myself clear...Indeed the PhD is the best way to get yourself a Quant job, especially in these days.I meant that I don't like the fact that you have to work for a company in order to obtain your PhD. Its some sort of modern time slavery...Anton
 
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robertwaugh
Posts: 4
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

PhD or no PhD

September 4th, 2002, 9:28 am

Is it just me that did a PhD because I love my subject (Particle Physics) ??If you are making academic desisions based on future career plans then perhaps you should just go and get a job. Education is an end in it self!Call me old fashoned if you like.
 
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lazy
Posts: 45
Joined: August 20th, 2002, 1:29 pm

PhD or no PhD

September 4th, 2002, 10:34 am

PlayerI definitely agree with the last two posts. Choosing a PhD only for future career plans is quite risky if you are not really interested by the "education" in itself as said before. A PhD is a long path...I have several friends whose choice was to undertake a PhD grade whilst working. I am not talking about a job independant from their PhD but of an agreement between their university and the bank they were working for. It was a nightmare..It is easily understandable. You might have an agreement like three days (bank)- two days ( university research) but how can this agreement face the random workload due to the demand of new products to price, new models to scrutinize because of the competition and so on. Of course it will never be under the form of "you have to" but rather "could you" or team pressure "you can't let us down". So you have to ask yourself if you will be able to have the same degree of theoritical approach in your PhD disseration than the other PhD students given the multiple tasks you might have at the bank.One the other side you might be lucky and be really left to do exactly and only the tasks in relation with you PhD but that is scarcely the case and if so you will be disconnected from the trading floors and probably be put in a room with some guys working on their own research...Still everything is possible if you just stay aware of the pros and cons and make your choice with a maximum of information.Maybe you shoud (or maybe you already had) ask for details (field of research, tasks,...) about this study/work position as not to fall in modern time slavery as said by Anton.Best, lazy
 
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sml31
Posts: 51
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

PhD or no PhD

September 4th, 2002, 11:10 am

You wouldn't by chance be one of Dempster's offsrping would you player? :-)
 
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matt247ryan
Posts: 111
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

PhD or no PhD

September 4th, 2002, 11:25 am

Dear All,two things which I'd appreciate some opinion/clarification on...1. Dempster's offspring? Is this a bad thing? What's Cambridge like?2. More importantly, regarding a PhD in fin math just to get a job...this is the question tormenting me at the moment. To me at least, fin math isn't THE most fascinating thing I could hope to study. This worries me. Will I be able to stick out the PhD or chuck it in half-way because I don't really find the efficient market hypothesis THAT fascinating? So today I thought of a compromise...why not do a PhD in something like - partial differential equations/martingale theory? You know, choose a class of pde which are of interest to financial mathematicans and study them under the guise of a pure math degree. Advantage? It's more interesting and when you graduate you'll have something applicable/relevant to finance! No?...
 
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adeade
Posts: 2
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

PhD or no PhD

September 4th, 2002, 1:19 pm

Dear AllI need some advice please....I am currently doing a part-time MSc in Finance at Birkbeck College, University of London. I am also currently working as a C++/VB developer for an IT Consultancy, specifically developing Equity Trading Systems. Before this, I worked for the National Physical Laboratory as a research physicist, specialising in the area of higher pressure physics. I joined the National Physical laboratory after completing my PhD in Optical Metrology/Precision Engineering at Cranfield University.Over the last 2 years or so, the area of Quantitative Finance has fascinated me. In spare time, I have read some of the classical texts in derivatives by the likes of Paul Wilmott and John Hull and, even developed some simple quant applications in C++ and VBA.I am currently in the final year of my MSc in Finance program. I have also started to work on my MSc dissertation, which will investigate the pricing of interest rate derivatives using Neural Networks and Genetic Programming.The one-million dollar question is, DO I HAVE ANY CHANCE OF BEING A QUNTS DEVELOPER ?And if so, what more do I need to do ?Because I am certainly NOT going to do another PhD. Say in Financial Maths….Thanks Guys.Ade
 
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lazy
Posts: 45
Joined: August 20th, 2002, 1:29 pm

PhD or no PhD

September 4th, 2002, 1:26 pm

matt247ryanWhat if your class of pde sink in the lapse of memory.....then your edge will be offset ..Regarding "the efficient market hypothesis THAT fascinating" do you think that if you don't find it in mathematical finance you would be able to find it in "pure math"....