SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

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twofish
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 25th, 2009, 4:24 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: thexyzMy idea was when Im not in IB(i.e. now) brush up my Maths and get ready with a good foundation.Foundation is probably not a useful way of looking at it. If you have done calculus, then you have enough foundation to do something useful. The next question then becomes which set of maths do you want to study, and maths that are useful in one field can be utterly useless in another. Someone who is a whiz at stochastic differential equations and be totally useless at statistics and vice versa.QuoteAlso probably that I don't like a short-cut and finding myself incompetent when Im actually in the job. Anyway, I appreciate 3-4 yrs is longerIt's unlikely that you'd find yourself mathematically incompetent on the job. Math is such an easy thing to test for that if you are incompetent in some required skill, you won't get the job. Also the name of the game is not how much you know, but how quickly you can learn.QuoteOther thing is, MSc/PhD or equivalent in numerical subject seems to be a MUST for getting into a quant role.It depends how you define quant. I know a lot of people doing quantish things that have masters in computer science with lots and lots of developer experience. Also, the Ph.D. doesn't mean that you know anything about a particular topic. For example, in my Ph.D. I learned a lot about numerical simulations of PDE's, and nothing at all about statistics or SDE's. It so happens that in the particular thing that I was hired for, that was "good enough."QuoteHow can I do it if at ll I want to do it; a Maths degree may help in this aspect.I don't think it will, really. If you were an undergraduate with no experience, then sure a masters degree in math would be useful. But you have cards to play that they don't. If you have a good reason to throw away all of your cards, and get new ones, that's fine, but it makes things much tougher for you.QuoteThanks for your sharing your late entry into quant. Could you please share your journey into it a bit more - your qualification, the effort you put in etc. Will be interested to hear more similar stories.Curiously, the most difficult part for me in moving into QF had nothing to do with technical skills. The two things that were big challenges were 1) deciding to move to NYC and 2) learning sales and marketing (i.e. how to sell myself). 2) I was able to learn by watching salesmen. Everyone is different, and the real barriers for everyone are something different. The problem with "getting another degree" is that it often doesn't address the real skill deficiency. For example, I get very nervous calling talking on the phone with people I don't know, this is true for most people. Working on that was much more important than anything about SDE's. The other two things that I had to work on were 1) learning bond jargon (i.e. what was a duration, convexity) and 2) C++ templates. SDE's were fun to study, but I don't think anyone ever asked me about them on an interview. A lot of this had to do with good headhunters. Since I wasn't the world's expert in SDE's, the HH's just didn't put me up for jobs where I had to be the world's expert on SDE's.You can start with the question "what do you really want?" You don't have to tell anyone, and if you've really figured it out, you probably don't want to tell anyone. But if you don't know what you are really after, then it makes it much harder to get it. If your main goal is just to work in an investment bank, that's easy, you aren't going to have any problem at all getting a job in an IB. Now it may be an awful job without money, status, respect, excitement, leisure, career advancement, or anything else you want, but if your goal is just to work in an IB, that's easy. If your goal is to make huge amounts of money working in an IB, that's much, much harder.QuotePS: like I requested earlier if someone can suggest the books/course/certification for a perfect FOUNDATION for Maths that makes me reasonably confident to go for courses like CQF or similar, that will be really helpful.One thing to think about is that if you don't have the confidence to go after something, then reading another book or getting another degree is not going to help. One of the things that I find fun about banking in quantitative finance is that I'm constantly in situations where I am completely and utterly incompetent. One that helped me greatly in getting a job is that I react well in situations where I am completely and utterly incompetent. My first job interview in QF, was one in which I totally self-destructed, and the reviewers gave me harsh, scathing, and correct feedback on my total lack of competence. So I bought a ton of books, and started fixing those gaps. It was fun getting beaten up like that. However, the cool thing is that once you learning enough not to get beaten up on a job interview, the bar moves.The really cool situations are those in which not only do I have no idea WTF is going on, but *no one* has any clue WTF is going on. Personally, I find those situations fun and exciting, especially since there are money and prizes, if you do become competent in something that you were incompetent in before. Even the sheer terror and stress that comes with those situations gives me something of a rush. But that's me. If you can't tolerate jobs in which your utter incompetence and lack of skill isn't hitting you in the face on a daily basis, that eliminates a very large set of jobs in banking. The reason this is relevant is that if the basic issue is confidence, then more education is going to make your situation worse. The more you know, the more likely it is that you will meet people that know even more than you do, and the more you will be confronted with things that you don't know. The more you know, the less you know.
 
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davidn
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 25th, 2009, 4:36 pm

this topic makes me laugh.first, on the topic of age, 40 is the new 20. Did you watch any swimming in the Olympics? heard of Lance Armstrong? sure people discriminating based on age is unfortunately a real obstacle and is certain to close some doors but you only need one.Things change fast. Get in, keep up, and in 10 years you'll be an industry vet. second, not everyone needs to be a lofty PhD to be effective in practice. learn and truly understand the fundamentals, use a computer well, solve problems, make people money and you'll do well.but don't take it from me - yet. I quit my 6 figure job in engineering in December, google my name: http://tinyurl.com/davidn to get into finance. what did I do as an engineer? solve problems understanding fundamental, working with people, and using computers really well, made people (lots of) money and got paid well.what did I see while working with designers? the same shit. people afraid of others with more drive and ambition moving in on their territory and eroding their easy earning and reputation in the world. the way I see it the term "quant" is a kin to the word "designer". It's far too easy to call yourself a "quant" or add it to your title. This makes the real quants defensive. To call yourself a Dr. you have to be a doctor. To call your self a PE (professional engineer) you have to be one. You can take a 6 month drafting class and put "designer" on your card but you'll never be a "designer" in the eyes of a designer that graduated from Art Center (even if you're better than they are at making your company money and easier to work with).same, I assume, with quants. I'm sure there are many PhD's that take issue with the fact that a lowly Engineer taking the CQF calls himself a "quant student" and one day I may even land a job that makes someone a lot of money that results in a card that has "quant something or the other" in the title. I know and they know I'll never be a quant. But I can have a lot of fun and really enjoy what I do in spite of all that. I can also end up really good at solving problems in a new domain and make people lots of money and get paid well.I saw countless drafters and poorly educated "CAD jocks" in China out produce "designers" turned out by top schools like Art Center. SURE, there are jobs, there are tasks that only the top dogs will be hired to do, there are roles that only the the well heeled, well schooled, and well connected will get to put their names on and talk about in the press - BUT there is a lot of actual work that needs doing that people willing and able to do well from all corners of the globe will step up to do with a smile and for far fewer dollars than what some are accustomed to. what I'm trying to say, is what I think you hear is, "you can't be one of us", but that doesn't mean you can't find a job doing very much the same as what they're doing and be successful in your own right.In the end, if you enjoy the ride that counts for something and you'll have new skills that will be broadly applicable in markets as diverse as gambling, medicine, and the Internet.GO FOR IT while you're still young. You only live once. davidn
Last edited by davidn on April 25th, 2009, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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twofish
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 25th, 2009, 4:38 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: cryptic26You might have worked as non-quant developer but you had a PhD in Physics.I did, but many of the people that I work with don't, and a lot of them have backgrounds that are very similar to the one of the original poster. The reason I suggested getting a non-quantish IT job and then moving into something more quantish, is that I know people that have done exactly that. But that opens up the question of exactly why the original poster wants to be a quant. If it's for the money, then the strategy is bad, if you are a java developer that wants to go after money, it's probably better to study databases and multithreading than quantitative finance.Quoteam I wrong in getting the impression that you are an optimization specialist?I'm not. In commenting publicly I use examples that have as little as possible to do with what I really am doing, but get across the basic idea. For the sake of career discussions, what I'm doing is "like" optimization, but it isn't.
 
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quantmeh
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 25th, 2009, 7:06 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: davidnthis topic makes me laugh.first, on the topic of age, 40 is the new 20. Did you watch any swimming in the Olympics? heard of Lance Armstrong? if someone who was quant since 80s suddenly decided he's too old, and you were trying to convince him he's wrong, i'd accept your references to swimming and cycling. otherwise, your examples are completely irrelevant to this guy's case.for a reference, Dara Torres broke world records in swimming in 80s, Lance was winning TdF staged in early 90s. they've been both super accomplished athletes for decades now. they're _coming back_, they're _not_ switching to sports after something else, like a career in philharmonic orchestra.
 
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cryptic26
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 25th, 2009, 7:14 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: davidn but don't take it from me - yet. I quit my 6 figure job in engineering in December, google my name: http://tinyurl.com/davidn to get into finance. what did I do as an engineer? solve problems understanding fundamental, working with people, and using computers really well, made people (lots of) money and got paid well. davidnThere are people having background such as yours in engineering for 15 years and they still struggle as quant (not you particularly). There are people having PhDs and they still struggle as quant. There are people having undergrad from MIT and they struggle as quant. They all swing upstream at some point in time but some make it through and get a real job in the industry while some stay on the fence hoping to make it. I am all for experience (always) but it has to be of the right kind of experience. And it takes a while just to get that right kind of experience. The older you are, the less time you have to get there or to even have the same 6 figures that you made in your previous job. If quant is hard, trading is equally hard or harder.Again it takes experience to be a good trader but it has to be the right kind. Trading on your passion, guts, instincts will fly for a while but not for long. I know a distant relative of mine who thought of becoming brain surgeon at 38.By the time he was one, he was already in his early 50s. But not for long did he really make surgeries before his hands started trembling of age. True, you live life only once but your professional life is much shorter than your actual life.
Last edited by cryptic26 on April 24th, 2009, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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davidn
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 25th, 2009, 10:10 pm

Quote Originally posted by: jawabean for a reference, Dara Torres broke world records in swimming in 80s, Lance was winning TdF staged in early 90s. they've been both super accomplished athletes for decades now. they're _coming back_, they're _not_ switching to sports after something else, like a career in philharmonic orchestra.yeah, thought about that after I sent it, but it's still hard for me to not be inspired by athletes that are indisputably still .the best in the world in their late 30's and beyond. Too bad Jordan didn't make it in baseball or golf, I'd use that. all the same, tenacity and determination goes a long way at any age. Soros reckons himself a philosopher finally after all these years.
Last edited by davidn on April 25th, 2009, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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davidn
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 25th, 2009, 11:07 pm

Dr. Coates (in his new career after being a trader) could be interpreted as suggesting the market may be more stable with more women and older men. from the WSJ article. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1208460 ... 69.html"Dr. Coates warned traders against trying to enhance their market performance by taking testosterone. "I am terrified of people slapping patches of this stuff on their shoulders before they go to work," he said. "We actually think this molecule is destabilizing risk-taking, rather than optimizing it.""also mentioned in this one on NPR.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... d=95420469
 
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KackToodles
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 26th, 2009, 12:40 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: davidn Soros reckons himself a philosopher finally after all these years. i betcha soros' net trading profits after the age of 50 was negative! And despite his vanity, he's a mediocre scientist and philosopher. Can he even get an adjunct teaching job without donating a million bucks to buy it?
 
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twofish
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 26th, 2009, 3:26 am

QuoteTrue, you live life only once but your professional life is much shorter than your actual life.Depends on the profession. I know lots of computer geeks in oil exploration that have been productive and innovative well into their 60's and I've known physics professors that have done useful research in their 80's.QuoteI see it the term "quant" is a kin to the world "designer". It's far to easy to call yourself a "quant" or add it to your title. This makes the real quants defensive.I'm not sure what a "real quant" is. The term quant seems to me something akin to the job of "webmaster." When the web first broke out, there were specialists to building and maintaining websites, but what killed job wasn't that there was the end of the web, but rather the fact that the web exploded, and generated dozens and dozens of different jobs. Similarly, the late 1990's job of "quant' doesn't seem to me to exist any more, and in its place are dozens of different jobs with different skills. So when I hear someone say I want to be a quant, I really don't know what they are talking about. I'm not even exactly clear as to whether or not I am a quant, and if I'm not, what exactly I have to do to be one.
 
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DominicConnor
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 26th, 2009, 8:20 am

If we are to pursue the sporting analogy, I have to share part of my methodology I followed with a bunch of CQFers last week, a variation on my normal career counselling.A big thing I push is "what do you beat most other people at ?"Banking is competitive now, but it always has been. You want the best jobs, you are going to have to beat the competition for it. True in good times and bad.Same of course applies elsewhere. There is a military axiom "don't reinforce failure". If you're no good at maths, then there is no point at age >25 trying to outclass a set of people like quants, a decent % of whom have won prizes of various kinds in this field.In other words, Lance Armstrong is unlikely to make it as a football player. He's the wrong shape, and having heard him on the TV, he's way too smart. But in parallel, you need to identify moderate sized holes in your skill set.Once you've worked out what you are good at, then start looking at jobs and the skills they require.If you do that properly you will see that there are jobs that you could only do with a brain transplant, and others that are close to where you are now."Close" in this space, is measured in hours of study. Thexyz, who asked the original question, is a Java guy, which immediately says to me "learn C++" because it is near enough to be attainable, but worth the investment.C++ is also worth it because even if this effort fails, it has general value outside quant work, and outside banking.A larger gap is numerical analysis, which I guess he's never done at all.So that's less good on the time : value : risk measure.NA requires various bits of maths, and he's going to have to work pretty hard on this, and at some point he's going to need a reality check on whether he has the core talent for maths, which if you don't have, no amount of work will give you.Maths in general are going to suck up a lot of time here...I have a soft spot for the OU, and he may well find that bank HR does as well. I shall share here something that few if any of you know, that in London, by far the most common university for HR people is the OU. Quite possibly more than any other two put together. (I've never been a student of the OU, but like a lot of Brits have read and watched their material).So the structure should be based on whatever excpetional skills you have, and then you should flesh it out by hard work in areas where effort can compensate for talent.
 
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cryptic26
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 26th, 2009, 9:31 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: twofish Depends on the profession. I know lots of computer geeks in oil exploration that have been productive and innovative well into their 60's and I've known physics professors that have done useful research in their 80's.There always will be exceptions like there always are outliers in a sample. But these are good enough for emotional inspiration, which agreed, means something but not everything
 
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cryptic26
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 26th, 2009, 9:33 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: DominicConnor A larger gap is numerical analysis, which I guess he's never done at all.So that's less good on the time : value : risk measure. NA requires various bits of maths, and he's going to have to work pretty hard on this, and at some point he's going to need a reality check on whether he has the core talent for maths, which if you don't have, no amount of work will give you.Maths in general are going to suck up a lot of time here... The assumption here is of course that xyz shall be spending most of his time on numerical analysis or implementing them in C++. Where as he could do some of the back office work as well in an insurance firm, where the pay is not that high & the job is less demanding.
 
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quantmeh
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 26th, 2009, 12:21 pm

what's OU? is it like Phenix University in US?
 
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Cuchulainn
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 26th, 2009, 12:31 pm

QuoteNA requires various bits of mathsNumerical Analysis is very broad and includes elements of hard analysis as well as applied algebra. And under that you need to know differential equations and hard analysis. Others view NA as applied functional analysis.With NA, coding is a must (Fortran and more lately C++). Theoretical Num. analysis is a contraduction.
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Cuchulainn
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Advice to start as a quant in late 30s

April 26th, 2009, 12:32 pm

QuoteNA requires various bits of mathsNumerical Analysis is very broad and includes elements of mathematical analysis as well as applied algebra. And under that you need to know differential equations and hard real analysis. Others view NA as applied functional analysis.With NA, coding is a must (Fortran and more lately C++). Theoretical Num. analysis is a contraduction.
Last edited by Cuchulainn on April 25th, 2009, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Step over the gap, not into it. Watch the space between platform and train.
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