SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
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gianluca19
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March 20th, 2012, 10:05 pm

hi allI am a first year at oxford doing maths.My degree is 4 years long (if i get good enough grades in my third year) and is denominated Master in Mathematics...Do you think a degree like that can be enough to get into a quant job?Or would the fact that I don't have a phd definitely destroy my chances? Also, even if i manage to get in with the MMAths, do you think I would end up always being a second class citizen compared to the Doctors? Last but not least, should I try to get some of the internships (even if i miserably failed with the spring ones..) offered by the investment banks even if they are not specifically quantitative analysis- related? and if yes which division should I try?(I do not want to get into IB in a non quant position, I love math and a quant job is the only thing I can think of (at the moment) that combines good salaries and actual use of math!)Thank you a lot for your answers.
Last edited by gianluca19 on March 19th, 2012, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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croot
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March 20th, 2012, 10:56 pm

I'll take your last sentence, and askIf you agree with the following:"I do not want to get into IB in a position that doesn't involve actual use of math"then I will freely give you precious life-saving advice:you do not want to get into a finance position. Full stop.My evidence: I have been told literally hundreds of times by hundreds of different professors,professionals,recruiters "in this business XXX , which is very new and exciting and challenging, the crux is modelling, which is mathematically very involved, you have to be very fine to beat the competition, and so it is very important for the firm to get this aspect right, which is why we need people with superlative math skills to fill these roles blablabla".In my case XXX was "2nd generation structured notes": well it turns out sophisticated mathematics is not the crux at all. XXX changes I'd say every 3 years, but I'll warn you now: sophisticated mathematics is never the crux.That said, I dream of , nay yearn for, a world where -financial innovation and sophisticated investors would be free to roam, without the fear of unjust discrimination and finger-pointing, and-thousands of guys like future-you, and me, would get well-paid jobs to do "some" math, and-even though the math would be irrelevant,we could help stave off regulators with our big degrees and bigger wages, and-with impressive profits marked yearly, though future risks would remain a mystery quantity no one would rock the boat because we'd all be polite people from good schools.I really do, gianluca.Unfortunately some sore losers in some societies are insisting on pushing things anOTHer way.Must we learn to live among philistines?Or is there still hope of a better tomorrow?
 
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ashkar
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March 20th, 2012, 11:08 pm

Keep an eye out for internships in your 2nd/3rd year or both. If you enjoy maths then switch to 3yr BA/BSc and try to get into a phd program after that if you still want to. I wouldnt do 4year program or msc if you want to get into finance. Its kind of in the middle of no-where. I would also advise going to banking presentations etc early on. Right information at the right time can make a lot of difference.I do see some (50-50) non-phd quant interns but they are generally from the french financial math programs. I'm sure there must be msc grads from top uk schools getting into internship programs but I personally dont know any. There are however senior quants who dont have PhD but I think they got in when the competition wasnt as tough and exotics market was booming.
 
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gianluca19
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March 21st, 2012, 8:09 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: crootI'll take your last sentence, and askIf you agree with the following:"I do not want to get into IB in a position that doesn't involve actual use of math"then I will freely give you precious life-saving advice:you do not want to get into a finance position. Full stop.My evidence: I have been told literally hundreds of times by hundreds of different professors,professionals,recruiters "in this business XXX , which is very new and exciting and challenging, the crux is modelling, which is mathematically very involved, you have to be very fine to beat the competition, and so it is very important for the firm to get this aspect right, which is why we need people with superlative math skills to fill these roles blablabla".In my case XXX was "2nd generation structured notes": well it turns out sophisticated mathematics is not the crux at all. XXX changes I'd say every 3 years, but I'll warn you now: sophisticated mathematics is never the crux.That said, I dream of , nay yearn for, a world where -financial innovation and sophisticated investors would be free to roam, without the fear of unjust discrimination and finger-pointing, and-thousands of guys like future-you, and me, would get well-paid jobs to do "some" math, and-even though the math would be irrelevant,we could help stave off regulators with our big degrees and bigger wages, and-with impressive profits marked yearly, though future risks would remain a mystery quantity no one would rock the boat because we'd all be polite people from good schools.I really do, gianluca.Unfortunately some sore losers in some societies are insisting on pushing things anOTHer way.Must we learn to live among philistines?Or is there still hope of a better tomorrow?yes, I do not want to get into IB in a position that doesn't involve actual use of math.but the fact is, apart from research, which job actually requires the use of math?reading on the internet i thought that quants have to keep in touch with the research in order to succeed.Also, aren't there positions like "research quant"?I think in such a complex financial world one which has great mathematical abilities can make the difference..people like fabio mercurio actually exist in the end!!!
Last edited by gianluca19 on March 20th, 2012, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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gianluca19
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March 21st, 2012, 8:19 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: ashkarKeep an eye out for internships in your 2nd/3rd year or both. If you enjoy maths then switch to 3yr BA/BSc and try to get into a phd program after that if you still want to. I wouldnt do 4year program or msc if you want to get into finance. Its kind of in the middle of no-where. I would also advise going to banking presentations etc early on. Right information at the right time can make a lot of difference.I do see some (50-50) non-phd quant interns but they are generally from the french financial math programs. I'm sure there must be msc grads from top uk schools getting into internship programs but I personally dont know any. There are however senior quants who dont have PhD but I think they got in when the competition wasnt as tough and exotics market was booming.the problem is that all these internships are toward an investment banking career starting from analyst : good money but you just need to send e-mails, be good at power point and word...Do you think there exist some kind of internship more linked to the quantitative side?In my university, if you switch to the 3 years then either you already have a job and you are tired of studying or you can't manage to get a 2.1 which allows you to get into the 4th year...Moreover, that would definitely reduce my chances of getting into a good phd program (sincerely, i do not want to consider non top 10 universities)obviously you won't have many chances with oxford, given that a lot of people applying for the same places did a last year more research-oriented...and oxford has one of the leading mathematical finance group in the world... https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/groups/mathe ... -studiesso leaving before the 4th year is not really an option!
 
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spv205
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March 21st, 2012, 8:40 am

stick to your 4 year program. and yes you can get into a quant position without a phd with a degree from oxford. (A first would help!!!)But right now the only way to do it is by striking lucky with a quant internship (PhD or not). just go through each bank's recruitmentsite searching out for the quant internship positions- they are typically very difficult to locate but they do exist!
 
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Hansi
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March 21st, 2012, 10:11 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: gianluca19(I do not want to get into IB in a non quant position, I love math and a quant job is the only thing I can think of (at the moment) that combines good salaries and actual use of math!)Most quant jobs don't require that much math, I think you don't have a firm grasp of what you are actually hoping to do.QuoteOriginally posted by: gianluca19but the fact is, apart from research, which job actually requires the use of math?Pricing, risk, structuring, etc.QuoteOriginally posted by: gianluca19reading on the internet i thought that quants have to keep in touch with the research in order to succeed.So never do any original work?QuoteOriginally posted by: gianluca19Also, aren't there positions like "research quant"?Yes. Headcount wise tends to be more positions for that on the sell side for some reason.QuoteOriginally posted by: gianluca19the problem is that all these internships are toward an investment banking career starting from analyst : good money but you just need to send e-mails, be good at power point and word...Do you think there exist some kind of internship more linked to the quantitative side?There are very few quant internships and because there is a fair amount of demand for them they tend to be filled by Phds. Just be glad if you get any internship. Most banking experience will be good to have on your CV if you decide to go into finance.It's not like you actually do anything productive in an internship, most people won't trust you with anything that really matters.
Last edited by Hansi on March 20th, 2012, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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DevonFangs
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March 21st, 2012, 10:31 am

We have some interns doing quanty stuff here, but they're actually doing their PhD.I'm a firm supporter of the No-real-need-for-PhD-to-work-as-a-quant school, but also of the You-might-need-a-PhD-to-get-into one. Do you plan to learn coding?
 
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gianluca19
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March 21st, 2012, 10:58 am

QuoteMost quant jobs don't require that much math, I think you don't have a firm grasp of what you are actually hoping to do.Probably, the only source I have atm is the internet, you can find everything and it's contrary there...QuotePricing, risk, structuring, etc.Isn't that what quants do?QuoteSo never do any original work?I thought quants do not actually have the time to make major research progresses (too many problems to solve quickly) but they do need to adapt models and to improve them...I think the fact is that too many positions fall under the "quant" definition...
 
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gianluca19
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March 21st, 2012, 11:06 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: DevonFangsWe have some interns doing quanty stuff here, but they're actually doing their PhD.I'm a firm supporter of the No-real-need-for-PhD-to-work-as-a-quant school, but also of the You-might-need-a-PhD-to-get-into one. Do you plan to learn coding?mhh so phd are something like a test?i mean, if you are smart enough to get a phd then you can get a quant job...i used to code in C++ when i was younger (the hardest program i wrote was a ping pong game for two players in dos graphics) but now i don't have much time (my degree takes quite a lot of time) but i'll definitely try to refresh my coding skill during the summer! (i was planning on starting studying and playing around with QuantLib, should i focus on something else than C++?)
 
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Hansi
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March 21st, 2012, 11:24 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: gianluca19I thought quants do not actually have the time to make major research progresses (too many problems to solve quickly) but they do need to adapt models and to improve them...Role dependant I guess, but at least on the buy side you don't gain much by using something a heap of people are already using.QuoteOriginally posted by: gianluca19I think the fact is that too many positions fall under the "quant" definition...That is a big issue, yes. Heck I'm sure there is a Quantitative Receptionist somewhere in The City.QuoteOriginally posted by: gianluca19i was planning on starting studying and playing around with QuantLib, should i focus on something else than C++?)Don't look at QuantLib, that's not for someone starting out. I recommend you know at least one of C,C++,C#,Java and one or two of R,Matlab,Python,Ruby,something similar (F# might fit in both categories). Oh and some SQL.
 
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spv205
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March 21st, 2012, 12:14 pm

My comments are from sell side ( ie investment bank), I would say you are doing quite a bit of math implementation. Agree not much math on buy side.quant internships are essential - basically its a way for the bank to try you out. so providing you don't screw up they will then offer you a job once you graduate.quantlib would be quite useful to look at - it will give you a good idea of how you would work - ie you aren't building a new model/implementation from scratch, but slotting in a new model into the existing PDE/Montecarlo engine. ( so don't worry too much about how QL is implemented, more how to build with it).quants in banks are regularly reviewing new papers/models ( I am certainly not saying they are implementing them!)personally, I would concentrate on math/understanding. read Wilmott (or some other Derivatives Maths book) and Taleb's dynamic Hedging. You need to get an idea of how people actually use derivative models in practise. Its probably a good idea to program a few models, more to clarify your understanding of the techniques.
 
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gianluca19
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March 21st, 2012, 1:31 pm

QuoteRole dependant I guess, but at least on the buy side you don't gain much by using something a heap of people are already using.Therefore you should use a LOT of maths on the buy side since you have to almost invent new models to distinguish from the others and hence gain..am I wrong?Quote Don't look at QuantLib, that's not for someone starting out. I recommend you know at least one of C,C++,C#,Java and one or two of R,Matlab,Python,Ruby,something similar (F# might fit in both categories). Oh and some SQL... it's good i started thinking about it so early, you can't learn all that stuff in a summer and my univ does not offer any course on this stuff at all....
 
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gianluca19
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March 21st, 2012, 1:37 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: spv205My comments are from sell side ( ie investment bank), I would say you are doing quite a bit of math implementation. Agree not much math on buy side.quant internships are essential - basically its a way for the bank to try you out. so providing you don't screw up they will then offer you a job once you graduate.quantlib would be quite useful to look at - it will give you a good idea of how you would work - ie you aren't building a new model/implementation from scratch, but slotting in a new model into the existing PDE/Montecarlo engine. ( so don't worry too much about how QL is implemented, more how to build with it).quants in banks are regularly reviewing new papers/models ( I am certainly not saying they are implementing them!)personally, I would concentrate on math/understanding. read Wilmott (or some other Derivatives Maths book) and Taleb's dynamic Hedging. You need to get an idea of how people actually use derivative models in practise. Its probably a good idea to program a few models, more to clarify your understanding of the techniques.Thank you!are these quant internships the same as the ones IB offer to second-third years? (for example this kind of internship GS summer)i started studying the wilmott's "mathematics of financial derivatives", which i'm finding really interesting even if maybe too advanced for me!
 
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CrashedMint
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March 21st, 2012, 2:14 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: gianluca19hi all... I am a first year at oxford doing maths...Other guys will probably flesh out my answer, but it short: a) you likely well qualified, b) internships are a necessity, if only to show that you can function in a real world environment. I interned at one of the best banks and I recently completed a PhD and the nature of work is completely different. Banks are super-long hours, quick real-world decisions and 3-4 of them at the same time. It's very hectic. Research work is sitting in the library and working through a rocket science research paper in greatest detail and obsessing about some minor aspects of it
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