SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
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uptime
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Joined: February 4th, 2012, 4:16 pm

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 1st, 2012, 3:47 pm

Where I am:Early mid-thirties. Wife and two young children. B.S Computer Engineering from a top tier U.S. University. 8 years professional software development experience, 4 of which are in the automated trading system space, the last 2 of which are at a large stable hedge fund that's been in existence for 2 decades.I currently work at the ?stable hedge fund? as a Senior Lead Dev on a research and execution platform team that serves a number of competing portfolio managers. As such, my areas of responsibility are all execution-related issues and maintaining and extending the research tools.This hedge fund is not in a major finance center city and is, in fact, over 1,000 miles away from the nearest such city.Where I want to be:For me, researching trading ideas and coding up trade systems isn't work, it's play. I just love doing it so that's my main motivation for wanting to obtain a Front Office or Desk Quant role. (Research Quant or Quant Dev might be fun too).For reasons I can't divulge on a public forum and that have nothing to do with me, growing in to such a position at my current employer isn't really an option for the foreseeable future.The Plan:Obtain a Master's degree in Computational Finance by late 2013. To maintain a good work/life balance and enable me to focus 100% of my energy on my studies, I'll quit my job and draw off savings to support my family while in school. Then upon graduation I'll move to where the work is (i.e. New York, Chicago etc.).-The program I'm considering is relatively short ( < 18 months)-The program is brand new (or almost...maybe 2nd or 3rd year)-The university is quite renowned but is in the same city as my place of work; far from a finance center cityRationale:-Most job ads I see for desirable positions say they require a master's or phd. And most of these ads don't say they require an ivy league master's. Therefore a master's in a quantitative field from a respected university should suffice.-For most desirable job ads I see, the master's is the only bullet point I lack under the ?Requirements? section. Therefore, this master's should round out my resume and make me very competitive for a large swath of posted ads.-While I'll take what I can get in the direction towards my targeted role, I would prefer to make a clean break from roles like I currently hold (i.e. more of a pure software dev) to my targeted role (i.e. a quant who's really good at coding). That is, one thing I like about my plan is I would quit role A (and never look back) and start role B (albeit 18 months later) and not have to grow over some indeterminate length of time from A to B.-If the targeted job doesn't pan out, my good grades through the master's program could allow me entrance to a university with a more respected phd program. (this would be a backup plan)Questions:1) Obviously I'm not following a normal track here and am pretty old to be going to school etc. How negatively will this impact me in the job search?2) While my main motivation is because I would enjoy the work 10X more than my current role, I do need positive ROI on this master's investment. In tuition, opportunity cost (i.e. lost salary) and risk (i.e. will there really be a job waiting for me when I graduate?), my plan is pretty costly. This year I'll make 125K USD. I work exactly 40 hours / week every week, get a massive amount of PTO and full medical benefits for my entire family. 2-A. Does this plan seem reasonably likely to land me my targeted role for the cost associated? 2-B. Would likely compensation for such a role be enough higher than my current compensation to justify the cost?3) Do you see a better plan/path (balancing likelihood against cost) or a refinement in my plan to hit my target?Thank you so much to any and all who not only take the time to read through this glut of detail but thoughtfully reply!
Last edited by uptime on March 31st, 2012, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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CrashedMint
Posts: 2591
Joined: January 25th, 2008, 9:12 pm

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 1st, 2012, 6:49 pm

are you sure a master's is actually necessary? or sensible? might just be that employers love work experience more than another degree.+ the thought alone to go back from 125K to nothing seems though, especially with wife and kids.
 
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katastrofa
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Location: Alpha Centauri

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 1st, 2012, 7:18 pm

I think it's a high risk project. I think you're much better off doing home study. Without a PhD, you're not likely to have it easy to get a "pure" quant job, and when it comes quant dev jobs, I don't think a Masters will add much value.
 
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Shaik
Posts: 29
Joined: March 21st, 2012, 9:35 pm

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 1st, 2012, 7:20 pm

Does your wife work? The backup plan sounds too harsh, even if you did a ph.d (of 3 years) in UK. 2-B. Would likely compensation for such a role be enough higher than my current compensation to justify the cost?After masters I guess you might have to start working in a smaller hedge fund or investment bank first, where probably pay will be about what you get currentlyand after that would increase on long run.I guess you have already considered other aspects like living on west coast vs east coast etc.
 
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CrashedMint
Posts: 2591
Joined: January 25th, 2008, 9:12 pm

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 1st, 2012, 7:32 pm

why not actually do Wilmott's certificate and get a good head hunter?i absolutely think you should follow your dreams, and I think any thoughts along the lines of "hey, I should really be happy with what I got and maybe rather live a very normal life than risk something" are horrible, because in the end any such "rational" decision leads to unhappiness. Instead I think you should risk it, but without being stupid. Now I have no clue if a Masters would actually increase your chances to get your dream job. From personal experience I doubt it and I wouldn't be too surprised if you simply learned a lot of useless crap together with guys being 10 yrs your junior. It might just be that in the end you have spend a very large amount of money and a job, and a marriage on a piece of paper that is essentially worthless. But I don't know. It might just be the opposite and a really smart move. Who knows.
Last edited by CrashedMint on March 31st, 2012, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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capafan2
Posts: 924
Joined: June 20th, 2009, 11:26 am

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 1st, 2012, 7:42 pm

This is a very high risk plan you have. Do CQF instead. You will not have to quit your job.Get a good math degree part-time from a local university if you feel you want a quantitative degree to go with your CQF. If you must quit your job consider this 8 months masters program in Data Analytics from NC State http://analytics.ncsu.edu/. 8 months is a lot less to navigate than 2 years with a family. You will not have to quit your job to do that and you have very relevant work experience. The market looks very crowded-what if your 2nd or 3rd tier degree does not fetch you a job you like. Does your wife work? You will need that backup with two kids. Or else the stress might get to you. If it was you and your wife alone that would be one thing, but two kids does change the equation quite a bit. Good luck to you!
 
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spv205
Posts: 478
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 1st, 2012, 8:13 pm

I really don't see that a masters will help you....particularly since most of the masters and CQF etc are aimed at becoming derivatives quants rather than a quant trader....like what you are after.I would directly start applying for jobs and talk to head hunters. your experience should count for more than a masters...if you can't get the dream job straight away ( and frankly there aren't many of those jobs around) then you are just better off applying for jobs doing the same as what you are doing now in chicago etc, from where it might be easier to transfer into such a job. if necessary you could do some sort of math/econometrics qualification as capafan said ( eg just a few modules? to prove you are capable)
 
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capafan2
Posts: 924
Joined: June 20th, 2009, 11:26 am

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 1st, 2012, 8:21 pm

A question to all actually-Why not try our one of those Prop Traders which will let you trade with your own money. Or try Interactive Brokers Platform to execute your own strategies. They even let you get play money to test out your strategies. Get comfortable with it, see how you perform before taking the leap. What will a masters teach you given that you are already pursuing it as your own interest.
 
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spv205
Posts: 478
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 2nd, 2012, 9:21 am

the other thing I would do is train up at your current employer as much as possible. In particular, offer your (programming) services/free time to the traders there....theres always something to automate with tradingThat's the way a lot of people have moved....you can't do that there but getting to know the traders and helping them out is going to be a lot more use than an MSC.
 
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MattF
Posts: 925
Joined: March 14th, 2003, 7:15 pm

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 2nd, 2012, 10:23 am

Quitting your job to study when you have a wife and young kids sounds like a really bad idea. if you're only working 40 hours a week then you have plenty of free time to study for a masters (or the CQF) while working. Absolutely no guarantee of a job when you graduate and a young single guy can move to NY (or wherever) and survive in cheap accommodation for a couple of years but it's not going to work out well with a family.
 
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quantmeh
Posts: 5974
Joined: April 6th, 2007, 1:39 pm

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 2nd, 2012, 12:07 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: MattFQuitting your job to study when you have a wife and young kids sounds like a really bad idea.a friend of mine did, and he's happy. he quit current very demanding job, moved to another sity, and got another job, much less demanding. his pay is probably considerably lower, but it allows him to finish MBA full-time.
 
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katastrofa
Posts: 9188
Joined: August 16th, 2007, 5:36 am
Location: Alpha Centauri

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 2nd, 2012, 1:20 pm

Yeah, but that's different. He did get another job.
 
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capafan2
Posts: 924
Joined: June 20th, 2009, 11:26 am

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 2nd, 2012, 3:39 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: katastrofaYeah, but that's different. He did get another job.But not a bad idea to get a less demanding job. Atleast the money keeps flowing in which is essential with a family. And you can always justify a temporary dip in pay saying you chose it voluntarily because you wanted to focus on the studying. It will not be held against you.
 
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tu160
Posts: 363
Joined: October 23rd, 2007, 1:14 pm

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 3rd, 2012, 12:13 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: uptimeThe Plan:Obtain a Master's degree in Computational Finance by late 2013. To maintain a good work/life balance and enable me to focus 100% of my energy on my studies, I'll quit my job and draw off savings to support my family while in school. Then upon graduation I'll move to where the work is (i.e. New York, Chicago etc.).Why don't you find an IT job and move to NYC first, enroll in part-time NYC program (there are plenty, they are among the best and you plugged into job search during your studies).If your programming skills are not good enough to get IT job at NYC now I doubt extra non-top MS degree will improve your chances a lot.PhD is a very different story, not to mention it's unlikely top PhD-program will count your CompFin MS hours for "real" degree like Statistics or Computer Science.
Last edited by tu160 on April 2nd, 2012, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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capafan2
Posts: 924
Joined: June 20th, 2009, 11:26 am

Career Advancement Plan Critique Request

April 3rd, 2012, 12:21 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: tu160QuoteOriginally posted by: uptimeThe Plan:Obtain a Master's degree in Computational Finance by late 2013. To maintain a good work/life balance and enable me to focus 100% of my energy on my studies, I'll quit my job and draw off savings to support my family while in school. Then upon graduation I'll move to where the work is (i.e. New York, Chicago etc.).Why don't you find an IT job and move to NYC first, enroll in part-time NYC program (there are plenty, they are among the best and you plugged into job search during your studies).If your programming skills are not good enough to get IT job at NYC now I doubt extra non-top MS degree will improve your chances a lot.PhD is a very different story, not to mention it's unlikely top PhD-program will count your CompFin MS hours for "real" degree like Statistics or Computer Science.While it is the easiest thing to do, his chances of getting a quant/trader job after that are close to nil unless he is hugely talented as a trader. One reason is that he is already quite old. He would be touching 40 by the time he finishes his masters. And IT role in NYC are so bad that they make me cringe. He would be better off where he is.
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