SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
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GiusCo
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Joined: March 26th, 2010, 10:00 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 27th, 2010, 12:59 pm

Good Morning all,I'm 36, a regular reader of this space and have studied some of the recent books you often praise: the 2 from Joshi, Wilmott's FAQ for quants, Rees' Excel for finance modelling. My background is hard science and engineering -nuclear, materials, simulation- and am just completing a PhD at one of the red bricks here in the UK. With 15 years in betting and 5 in financial spread betting, I'm also directly aware of maths associated to risk, events, probability, return on investment and all this sort of basic stuff.My problem is simple: I do not know yet which career pursue after graduating. So this topic would -in my hope- help to get rid of myths and prejudices about quant finance jobs in London.1) First and foremost, I may have the natural continuation in research at some centre in the UK or Europe (I'm from Italy). Pros are an interesting, good-natured, result & research oriented environment in which I can express myself without great pressure. Cons are a fairly low wage, no enthusing prospects and a very quiet life in some village somewhere in the wilderness, where centres are often located. I'm not a celeb seeker or a fame digger, but like to follow arts and still love being into events (books presentation, poetry reading, theatre)... I'm a quite known writer myself.2) I may put my skills and will into something nearer the money and a buzzy life (that is a quant job, in London). Pros are I've a decent toolbag, I'm able to cope with pressure at international level, I may have something to share as an individual (used to make decisions betting my money, so fundamentally I'm not a gambler at heart), I'm not a pure executor. The main Con I can see is a great amount of braggadocio, self-delusion, wannabe-ism, all very annoying and far from reality but still important (??) and, again, that I'm not a pure executor.So my question to you experts is the following: is it possible to have a life as a quant in London and still mantain an own personality, call it european, middle class, hard-working, somewhat detached but caring? Thanks a lot in advance for your contributions,Gius
 
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daveangel
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Joined: October 20th, 2003, 4:05 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 27th, 2010, 4:24 pm

finance - I think you will fit right in.
knowledge comes, wisdom lingers
 
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KackToodles
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Joined: August 28th, 2005, 10:46 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 27th, 2010, 5:21 pm

you fit right in; however, you should make the effort to expand your horizons and reading materails to learn something about finance and economics -- not just programming and numerical recipes (which I presume you already know). go and read, for example, the CFA exam prep books.
 
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katastrofa
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Location: Alpha Centauri

late 30s... finance or research?

March 27th, 2010, 6:57 pm

"So my question to you experts is the following: is it possible to have a life as a quant in London and still mantain an own personality, call it european, middle class, hard-working, somewhat detached but caring? "Sure, why not? Finance in the City welcomes many different personalities from all sides of the world. That's part of the charm.
 
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GiusCo
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Posts: 124
Joined: March 26th, 2010, 10:00 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 27th, 2010, 8:50 pm

Thanks for feedback, I'm going to have a look at CFA and their preparation books to improve my fundamentals.As for fitting in in the City, you know... as an outsider the only feedback you get is from the media, from third person word and from places like this site, bulletin boards, ADVFNs or similar. I'm not smart, but the texture (morality, attitude, competence) is often questionable, as many insiders say. However, still have a few months to complete my research, then submit PhD thesis. This forum and your good work will keep me sharp and interested. Thanks again.
 
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KackToodles
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late 30s... finance or research?

March 27th, 2010, 8:55 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: katastrofa"is it possible to have a life as a quant in London and still mantain an own personality, call it european, middle class, hard-working, somewhat detached but caring? " No, not quite. You will be upper class, ultra–hard working, and detached. If you care, you will donate a portion of your estate to help the poor.
 
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Nikkei
Posts: 208
Joined: January 11th, 2005, 5:02 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 27th, 2010, 11:04 pm

Questionable morality is not inherent to Wall Street only. Just look at how much abuse and corruption is going on when tenures or tenure track jobs are distributed in the academia (in the US, at least). Another thing is the pressure to publish papers, which undoubtedly results in a large proportion of useless articles.
 
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KackToodles
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late 30s... finance or research?

March 28th, 2010, 4:18 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: NikkeiQuestionable morality is not inherent to Wall Street only. Just look at how much abuse and corruption is going on when tenures or tenure track jobs are distributed in the academia (in the US, at least). Another thing is the pressure to publish papers, which undoubtedly results in a large proportion of useless articles. nothing wrong with cutthroat competition as long as it is based on merit. greed makes everyone work harder and is, therefore, good for the economy.
 
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Nikkei
Posts: 208
Joined: January 11th, 2005, 5:02 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 28th, 2010, 5:21 am

By definition, curruption is something based on anything but merit.
 
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GiusCo
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Posts: 124
Joined: March 26th, 2010, 10:00 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 28th, 2010, 11:29 am

well, the main point in "questionable" is "inefficient". For what I see (and for what myths are), players milk their money out of the inefficiencies of the market and of the other players. So exploiting these inefficiencies is the general aim of all the players: scalping, trapping, deceiving, optimizing for the biggest crust achievable.As an outsider and a scientist, I'm used to make my systems as efficient as possible, because I get results if the noise is as low as practicable. That is to say: the score in my performance is generally due to proper set up, calibration and human judgment instead of exploiting inefficiencies.That said and considering my age and background, I understand that as a prospective quant I can never be a developer or a model researcher / validator, so probably my area is risk, with a possible look into strategy. Not much but, as stated before, this topic is just to dissipate myths.
Last edited by GiusCo on March 27th, 2010, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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daveangel
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Joined: October 20th, 2003, 4:05 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 28th, 2010, 2:28 pm

Quote For what I see (and for what myths are), players milk their money out of the inefficiencies of the market and of the other players the inefficiencies are few and far between and milk tends to be of the skimmed variety
knowledge comes, wisdom lingers
 
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GiusCo
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Posts: 124
Joined: March 26th, 2010, 10:00 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 28th, 2010, 3:23 pm

Spending this late afternoon on the "guide to quant careers" I asked for and have just received from mr Connor. Very sound and instructive. Cheers to all.
 
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DominicConnor
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Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

late 30s... finance or research?

March 28th, 2010, 3:44 pm

One thing that will be new in the third edition is a section on self analysis.Central to the Guide, and much of my advice is the issue that this is a highly competitive game. Thus merely being "really good at something" is neither necessary nor sufficient.I think the "not sufficient" is intuitive, but the "not necessary" is less obvious.You need to beat other people at things people will pay you to do.That can mean not being very good, but better than your competition. In finance tech that can mean being good at Excel which is easy but most people are shit at using, and in the early days of any financial instrument or niche people can make stupidly large amounts of money with strategies that people later openly laugh at.In the faith business, it doesn't matter if you rape children so long as you don't get caught.
 
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twofish
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Joined: February 18th, 2005, 6:51 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 28th, 2010, 4:19 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: GiusCoMy problem is simple: I do not know yet which career pursue after graduating. So this topic would -in my hope- help to get rid of myths and prejudices about quant finance jobs in London.A lot depends on what is available. Personally, I got into quantitative finance by total accident. If certain people had made different decisions I'd be doing something very different than I'm doing right now.[QUOTE]Con I can see is a great amount of braggadocio, self-delusion, wannabe-ism, all very annoying and far from reality but still important (??)[/QUOTE]Personally I don't see this as being worse than academia, and in most cases there is really not that much braggadocio, and really very little *self*-delusion.
 
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twofish
Posts: 4944
Joined: February 18th, 2005, 6:51 pm

late 30s... finance or research?

March 28th, 2010, 4:37 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: GiusCoFor what I see (and for what myths are), players milk their money out of the inefficiencies of the market and of the other players.Also, don't get your information from the general press since they are generally clueless. Get Alex Kuznetsov's "The Complete Guide to Capital Markets for Quantitative Professionals". Also IMHO, Scott Patterson's book on quants is deeply, deeply misleading.That's one game, there are about a thousand others. One problem here is that you have to define "market inefficiency" which requires quite a bit of deep thinking. The other questions that you really have to think deeply about is "what is the market?" and "what is money?" Basically to even *have* a market requires a huge infrastructure, and quants are part of it.QuoteSo exploiting these inefficiencies is the general aim of all the players: scalping, trapping, deceiving, optimizing for the biggest crust achievable.No. Exploiting market inefficiencies is the general aim of a very small subset of the players. The problem with this game is that it's not really sustainable. The trouble with quant funds is that over time, the inefficiencies of the markets become less and less so you have to spend more money to make smaller and smaller amounts, and there reaches an equilibrium.QuoteAs an outsider and a scientist, I'm used to make my systems as efficient as possible, because I get results if the noise is as low as practicable. That is to say: the score in my performance is generally due to proper set up, calibration and human judgment instead of exploiting inefficiencies.One problem that people in academia have in finance is that the game is much less structured and less controlled. What people in academia are used to is a set of rules that say "if you pass this test and get this grade, you get this reward" and markets just don't work like that. You have to figure out what the rules are, and the cool thing is that you can change the rules. One other thing is that efficiency isn't always a good thing. A power saw is much more efficient than a hand saw, but that "efficiency" makes it easier to slice your hand off if you aren't careful. Also the job market is frighteningly inefficient. You can go on your online broker, put in an order for stocks, and have it execute within a few seconds. Job hunting doesn't work that way, and the labor market is as much a market as the capital markets, and your job is probably your more important financial asset. To dump a bad stock and buy another one takes seconds. To dump a bad job and buy another one takes weeks to months.QuoteThat said and considering my age and background, I understand that as a prospective quant I can never be a developer or a model researcher / validator, so probably my area is risk, with a possible look into strategy. Not much but, as stated before, this topic is just to dissipate myths.I think you are making the mistake of trying to target things too early. Give you resume to someone that is looking for a developer model validator, and since they know more about what they need they you do, you have them tell you if you fit.
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