SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

jksaid
Topic Author
Posts: 12
Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 4:09 pm

Hey Guys,Yet another lost soul seeking your guidance.I am currently a PhD student, I have completed the coursework a while ago, passed my orals, etc...Research has not proved to be as interesting for me as I would have hoped. I would like to do something more practical, like structuring or trading.My backround is in Stochastic Analysis and Mathematical Finance. If I choose not to complete the PhD, what opportunities are open to me?Thanks.J.

DominicConnor
Posts: 11684
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

jksaid
Topic Author
Posts: 12
Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 4:09 pm

DCFC,All your points are valid, I have explored many of them - I appreciate your candor in the whole matter and I do apolgise for whining, I should phrase things more carefully in future.I would however like to ask some questions.1. Why is a MA in Math Fin better than ABD in Math Fin, since after all it's a rougher selection process for the PhD.2. Most of the time for one's oral qualifiers, at least at the school I am at, you do have to self-study eveything anyway, I would hardly say that's spoonfed.3. Is a PhD in Number Theory and a night reading of Hull more applicable to a non-research position at a bank/ hedge fund than an ABD in stochastics and finance?4. Would switching into a top MBA make a difference?Thanks,J.

DominicConnor
Posts: 11684
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Last edited by DominicConnor on September 7th, 2005, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

linuxuser99
Posts: 835
Joined: March 26th, 2004, 2:51 pm

>> 4. Would switching into a top MBA make a difference?>> Yes, though not for us. HR departments like MBAs from top schools, we are OK about them.Next to impossible to get onto a decent MBa without significant work experience. Time spent doing a PhD will not count for this. the admissions comittees for the various schools will look on not finishing a PhD as badly (maybe worse) than corporate recruiters.

Posts: 11048
Joined: February 1st, 2005, 11:21 pm

jksaid: I know how you feel. Instead of grinding out a dissertation over the next three to four years not in the least way related to finance, have you considered switching and doing a one year Masters degree in financial mathematics in which you'll learn everything you need to know to become a quant anyway? This seems the smartest option to me. Perhaps the Phd in physics is a hangover from the days of Derman when this was the only way into banks and Masters in FE were not readily available...

jksaid
Topic Author
Posts: 12
Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 4:09 pm

Thanks for the info guys.One last thing.If we choose not to walk down the path to a PhD and ultimate glory as the star researcher in derivatives at Goldman Sachs, what are the options then? I cannot believe that no-one would be prepared to interview me because I am a lowly ABD. In other words if I am prepared not to be the Tom Cruise of finance what can I apply for?Thanks for your indulgence.J.
Last edited by jksaid on September 10th, 2005, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DominicConnor
Posts: 11684
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

1. If we choose not to walk down the path to a PhD and ultimate glory as the star researcher in derivatives at Goldman Sachs, what are the options then? I cannot believe that no-one would be prepared to interview me because I am a lowly ABD. It's not the lack of interviews that should worry you, it is what job you are being interviewed for.In other words if I am prepared not to be the Tom Cruise of finance what can I apply for?Sure you can apply for quant jobs, but you may have to follow the path of Harrison Ford who for many years earned more money from carpentry building movie sets than acting upon them.2. DCFC, I am not sure what you mean by actors and extras, are you implying that a PhD is an extra and yet an MA in FE is an actor? I would think that to be successful in finance and in life that breadth is far more important.I mean those as personality types rather than how smart or well educated.3. From the traders that I have met, very few have PhDs, the structurers none have PhD's, so why should I want a PhD if I am not entangled in a mathematical affair?The question is how you get from here to there.4. Not that anyone can necessarily answer this but let me ask it anyway: How many managers really believe that the PhD's working for them will enhance their returns and not just their client relations?Most of the managers we talk to don't have clients as such, so if they hire a PhD it is because the a priori chance of them being more useful is higher, and worth the extra pay.Be wary of criticising the market for being irrational. Standard line on markets is that they can remain irrational far longer than you can remain solvent.The rational way to deal with an irrational market is to learn how to exploit other people's incorrect view. Saying to others it is wrong doesn't make you richer ( unless you can write a really good book).Thanks for your indulgence.J.

jksaid
Topic Author
Posts: 12
Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 4:09 pm

Dominic,I agree with you entirely that if you want to be a serious quant sans PhD in this day and age you should wake up and smell the coffee.I am not looking for a position as a quant/junior quant/assistant quant, i was hoping to get some advice on how one can break into structured finance, structuring or trading without having to have proven the fundamental pricing theorem for illiquid and incompletye markets with transaction costs.Right now and for the forseable future, I think for my career where the position is and what the rest of the team I will be working with is like matters far more than the difference between $50,000 US and$120,000.What are your thoughts?Thanks,J.

Posts: 11048
Joined: February 1st, 2005, 11:21 pm

>>Right now and for the forseable future, I think for my career where the position is and what the rest of the team I will be working with is like matters far more than the difference between $50,000 US and$120,000.What, are you crazy ().

jksaid
Topic Author
Posts: 12
Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 4:09 pm

Trader Joe.I pick the numbers to make a point.There are many 120 K jobs which lead no-where and are not particularly interesting or satisfying.On the other hand there is a lot of room for improvement from 50 (if you have the skills and I guess the luck.)To have an extra 70 K minus uncle sam's share just so I can take cabs and eat at Peter Luger will not offset having a really unsatisfying worklife.I am sorry if I sound irrational, I guess that I am either crazy or an arbitrage opportunity.

Posts: 11048
Joined: February 1st, 2005, 11:21 pm

>>>On the other hand there is a lot of room for improvement from 50 (if you have the skills and I guess the luck.)Oh dear.

SanFranCA2002
Posts: 649
Joined: October 3rd, 2002, 5:05 pm

jksaid: Do you really like pounding your head against a brick wall? Think guy. Really use your ABD knowledge and think. The advice you are getting is not just poor, but irresponsible. You need to go elsewhere for advice. (No, I'm not interested in hiring anyone or dispensing additional advice, its just that when I see such shameless jerking around of someone, I feel like saying something)

DominicConnor
Posts: 11684
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

It's very rare that you have the choice between a 50K interesting job and 120K dull.It is true, that the path from a 50K may be better than a 120, but you need to recognise how hard to it is to map thes paths when you get offers.You will make your decision upon poor information, sure you can ask the forum for help, but there's too many unknowns, or factors that are hard to weight.A clear shining data point is starting salary.There's a noise term of up to 25% which is worth ignoring, but when a bank says this work is 150% more valuable than another piece of work then your best bet is to believe them.

Posts: 11048
Joined: February 1st, 2005, 11:21 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: SanFranCA2002jksaid: Do you really like pounding your head against a brick wall? Think guy. Really use your ABD knowledge and think. The advice you are getting is not just poor, but irresponsible. You need to go elsewhere for advice. (No, I'm not interested in hiring anyone or dispensing additional advice, its just that when I see such shameless jerking around of someone, I feel like saying something)Yeah, try here.