SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
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JamesRI
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Posts: 4
Joined: February 13th, 2012, 4:54 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 10th, 2012, 2:58 pm

I've been wanting to make this post for quite a while. Ideally, I'd like to get some feedback from technologists/quants/recruiters as to what my options are in finance in terms of renumeration and growth potential.So, before we start I have to say that I have a bit of an unusual background. I'm a college dropout (which I am fine with). Some people have told me this is an issue when aiming for IBs/hedge funds/... while others have said that they don't really care that much if you have the skills.In terms of skill set, I'm a software developer. My 'main' language is C++ and most of the work that I've done has been in C-like languages. We're talking C/C++/Objective-C/PHP here, with moderate knowledge of Java (+JNI) and Python. My background so far has been in game and mobile development, but can pick up new things areas fast. Here's a short overview of some of the things that I've built (solo):- Neural network based motion recognition library for a game in C++.- Multi platform game engine technology for consoles and mobile devices in C++. This includes writing a graphics renderer, audio drivers, animation library, custom binary data formats, ...- Reverse engineered a proprietary voip protocol, wrote a portable C++ library, got it running on the iPhone and wrote a mobile UI for it.- Ported a C++ game emulator to Android, rewrote the renderer and added a mobile UI. Java/JNI and C++ combo.- High performance/low latency C++ socket servers, some cryptography, lots of multithreaded code, ..... and plenty more.While my math is not 'perfect', I really have no issue with reading papers and translating those concepts in to code. Usually I can pick up stuff pretty fast, however, I think my technical skills are more valuable than my math ones. I'm currently working as a mobile consultant making pretty good money. I also have some web based projects that are generating good revenues. I'd like to know whether it makes sense to swap to finance, based on what I'm currently earning. How much would someone with my skill set be able to make in a permanent or a contracting role? One of the areas that I'm quite interested in is HFT.Thanks.
 
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Zymonick
Posts: 11
Joined: May 20th, 2007, 9:55 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 10th, 2012, 7:36 pm

Stay where you are. Even, if you manage to find a way in, which will be difficult, you'll always be the IT guy and they'll never let you come close to the fancy trading algorithm developing stuff. And no, being the IT guy is neither interesting nor desirable, not even in HFT. Edit: As to your question, I reckon as a contractor in the UK you could make 500 - 800 Pounds a day.
Last edited by Zymonick on March 9th, 2012, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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farmer
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Joined: December 16th, 2002, 7:09 am

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 10th, 2012, 7:47 pm

They don't necessarily hire people who are into gambling or financial markets or trading specifically. But they do like to hire scientists. These are people who have a sort of curiosity about things. So you could probably work in trading or whatever. But I am not sure your career would progress if you don't have the impulse of a researcher. You did reverse-engineer Skype or something. But you didn't exactly make a lifestyle out of cracking puzzles or doing statistics, you are more into building things.
 
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SierpinskyJanitor
Posts: 1069
Joined: March 29th, 2005, 12:55 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 10th, 2012, 7:58 pm

Nowadays, you don't step in as an IT contractor in any Bank with no prior experience in finance. You might need to go perm for a while - Android is cool and IOs as well, although Objective C is a nonportable joke and Xcode a vomiting ide.I have met people who left banking for mobile IT ( eg Reto Meier ) but never seen anyone doing it the other way around, I am afraid. However, wish you all the best.
Last edited by SierpinskyJanitor on March 9th, 2012, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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traderjoe1976
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Joined: May 19th, 2006, 9:50 am

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 11th, 2012, 12:00 am

Have you contacted any recruiters and tried to do some technical interviews? I think you can probably get in if you can pass the technical interviews.
 
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capafan2
Posts: 924
Joined: June 20th, 2009, 11:26 am

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 11th, 2012, 12:48 am

I am tempted to agree with Zymonick. You seem to have the skill but I feel that you will not be able to adjust to the big change in culture. Like Farmer said you like to build things which is great but then you get branded as a IT guy and you do not want to be an IT guy in finance no matter how much more you make. You will be miserable.Secondly finance tends to hire a lot of people these days due to regulations but they do not have the revenue for obvious reasons. The end result is they prefer young dudes out of school or people like you who have lots of experience. They will tell you in 5-10 years you will be rich. Please do not believe that. The only reason you are attractive to them is because you have high competence and they can buy you for less by making outrageous promises making you believe you are the lucky one to get hired. All this is about IT in banks or anywhere else. If you get in as a quant ( I doubt you can without any background in finance and and formal background in math) then it will be different probably.
 
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MattF
Posts: 925
Joined: March 14th, 2003, 7:15 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 12th, 2012, 9:15 am

My gut feeling is that it would be easier to get in as a contractor without any formal qualifications as they're going to be concentrating on technical excellence and HR involvement will be at a minimum. You could then try to move towards a permanent role from the inside if you decide it would suit you better.Any bank or hedge fund has legions of PhDs kicking around so no-one is interested in your math skills - they are effectively non-existent.
 
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SierpinskyJanitor
Posts: 1069
Joined: March 29th, 2005, 12:55 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 12th, 2012, 11:06 am

Mattf, can you share with us which banks are willing to hire a contractor with no prior exposure to finance/risk? Your gut feeling is dead wrong I am afraid. It might have been true 5/6 years ago, but nowadays it is virtually impossible landing a contract with no prior experience in finance whatsoever and solely based on IT skills. Try being interviewed for contract roles yourself and do tell us how much of that process focused on purely financial questions? (one of my previous attempts consisted on a 5 hour grill in Credit Risk where more than 35% of the torture was purely around finance/risk - the remaining being C++/maths - this was for a Contract role as a pure Dev, not even QDev...)
 
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EscapeArtist999
Posts: 1620
Joined: May 20th, 2009, 2:49 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 12th, 2012, 11:08 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: SierpinskyJanitorMattf, can you share with us which banks are willing to hire a contractor with no prior exposure to finance/risk? Your gut feeling is dead wrong I am afraid. It might have been true 5/6 years ago, but nowadays it is virtually impossible landing a contract with no prior experience in finance whatsoever and solely based on IT skills. Try being interviewed for contract roles yourself and do tell us how much of that process focused on purely financial questions? (one of my previous attempts consisted on a 5 hour grill in Credit Risk where more than 35% of the torture was purely around finance/risk - the remaining being C++/maths - this was for a Contract role as a pure Dev, not even QDev...)I hope you told them to go f**k themsleves SierpinskyJanitor.
 
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SierpinskyJanitor
Posts: 1069
Joined: March 29th, 2005, 12:55 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 12th, 2012, 11:15 am

wish I had, the worst experience ever - very finicky Bank, need I say more?
 
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MattF
Posts: 925
Joined: March 14th, 2003, 7:15 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 12th, 2012, 12:01 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: SierpinskyJanitorMattf, can you share with us which banks are willing to hire a contractor with no prior exposure to finance/risk? Your gut feeling is dead wrong I am afraid. It might have been true 5/6 years ago, but nowadays it is virtually impossible landing a contract with no prior experience in finance whatsoever and solely based on IT skills. I didn't say it would be easy but many banks hire many IT contractors all the time. The idea that every single one of them has prior experience in finance is not sustainable.
 
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ElysianEagle
Posts: 93
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 7:25 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 13th, 2012, 12:34 am

MattF you've obviously done some pretty awesome technical work. I work in Risk IT at an IB (yeah I know, I know...) full-time but they also hire a lot of consultants and contractors. I knew one consultant (who was recently moved by his consulting firm to another IB) who didn't even go to college, let alone drop out of it. He was doin the same work and getting paid roughly the same as everyone else there. I for one have 2 bachelor's degrees from a no-name state school yet I work with and get paid the same as others around me that have MFEs and MBAs (sometimes both) from Stanford and Columbia and such. And no neither one of my degrees was in finance (or even anything business related).Maybe this is because it's in Risk IT and it's different in other IT areas, I don't know since this has been my first foray into the world of finance? My IB has a very competent algorithmic trading desk as well and I'd imagine you'd have to have a pretty decent financial background to get into that.I'm with capafan2 on this one, though - if you're looking for technically challenging work, you might not find it in finance doing pure IT. I could be wrong tho, wish you luck.
 
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rmax
Posts: 6080
Joined: December 8th, 2005, 9:31 am

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 14th, 2012, 8:31 am

I know people who have moved to Finance and worked in tech departments with no Finance knowledge. I know some manager or almost encourage it as there is so much dross in IB IT departments that want to break out of that mold.My problem is that when I deal with them, they don't understand some very basic concepts. They might be shit hot at programming, but if it takes too long to explain the requirement, and they can't design a solution that is applicable what is the point? As I have said before programming is a solution to a problem, not a solution looking for a problem (unless you work at Apple).JamesRI - why do you want to get into Finance? The money? The girls? Because the industry is interesting?
 
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MattF
Posts: 925
Joined: March 14th, 2003, 7:15 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 14th, 2012, 10:23 am

QuoteWhat is it? The girls? The leather? The machismo? Or do you just find that coming to terms with the mindless tedium of it all presents an interesting challenge?------ Ford Prefect questions a young Vogon guard on his career choiceProbably the last reason is most appropriate for working in Finance IT.
Last edited by MattF on March 13th, 2012, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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SierpinskyJanitor
Posts: 1069
Joined: March 29th, 2005, 12:55 pm

Should/could I move in to finance?

March 14th, 2012, 10:28 am

QuoteJamesRI - why do you want to get into Finance? The money? The girls? Because the industry is interesting?in some of the places I worked for the unattractivess of our female co-workers was actually a productivity booster - I mean facial-hair cave-dwelling ugliness. So can you please share with us where have you been and where may we find this ElDorado?
Last edited by SierpinskyJanitor on March 13th, 2012, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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