SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
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jf88
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 18th, 2013, 1:13 pm

Hi all,I recently joined a South East Asian local bank as their quantitative analyst in their market risk department. I was initially filled with excitement by the many perceived opportunities to learn because despite graduating with a BSc and MSc in Applied Mathematics from two top 10 (THES) ranked universities, I am not too proficient in programming (limited to coding in Matlab, Maple and Mathematica) or knowledgeable in finance. My time at university was too preoccupied with worrying that I might not make it till the end, which led me to shun many courses thought too difficult, like programming for instance. Anyway, the role seems far less mathematical than the western counterpart and is more about validating other people's work rather than doing our own thing! Thus far I have only been number crunching using Excel and validating data in Murex. I was expected to learn Excel and VBA whilst on the job and will progress to C++ soon which I am very glad to do. Nevertheless, I am slightly disappointed by the role given the lack of mathematics. A colleague of mine was recently doing some maths and it turns out that he was re-deriving a formula used by the front office to make sure that they are valid. Upon further probing, he revealed that this is a rare occurrence as most days will be filled with again, extensive use of Excel for validating numbers, performing Value at Risk matters and etc. Long story cut short, I expect my days to be filled with bland, uninteresting chores which is certainly not what I seek out to achieve for a quant role! At the same time, I am well aware of my shortcomings and knowing that I would probably be no where near securing a quant role in the west, maybe I should rejoice given this less demanding role. If I am to stay on, how will you guys think my career progress? In fact, is this even a quant role? I suspect there might be a slight abuse of terms here. I plan to get an MFE degree after three years but will this be worth it? Everything is so murky right now and to make matters worst, this is my very first proper job and I am all too worried about screwing up my entire career just because I chose the first job wrongly! Thanks for reading and feel free to comment. PS: Apologise for the language. I am too exhausted to even think properly in order to string coherent sentences. Cheers!
 
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Gamal
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 18th, 2013, 1:25 pm

read the forum
 
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neuroguy
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 18th, 2013, 2:38 pm

Careers dont just 'progress'. You need to know what you want, how to get it and be prepared for any necessary efforts or sacrifice. Sounds like you need to figure out, from the ground up, what you want out of LIFE. Career motivation can only stem from that.If you spent most of your time while doing mathematics at university worried that you might not make it, why would doing mathematics under pressure in a bank be any more rewarding?Most things can be turned in to opportunities. Sounds like maybe your expectations were a little mis calibrated. At the very least if what you are doing is not all that demanding, but pays the bills, it can buy you time. This alone can be an asset.
 
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slacker
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 19th, 2013, 10:14 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: jf88Hi all,Anyway, the role seems far less mathematical than the western counterpart and is more about validating other people's work rather than doing our own thing! ...Long story cut short, I expect my days to be filled with bland, uninteresting chores which is certainly not what I seek out to achieve for a quant role! At the same time, I am well aware of my shortcomings and knowing that I would probably be no where near securing a quant role in the west, maybe I should rejoice given this less demanding role. apologies for the selective editing.The one thing I want to add is 95% of finance is dry, boring, tedious work. After this whole 'quant' explosion there is this preconception that it is all sexy geek work. Not quite. Though I certainly don't mean to discourage anyones dreams, perhaps a re-calibration might be in order. Speak to more people in the industry to really get a sense of what daily nitty gritties are, and in fact if they ever really change.
 
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bluetrin
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 19th, 2013, 10:16 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: slackerQuoteOriginally posted by: jf88Hi all,Anyway, the role seems far less mathematical than the western counterpart and is more about validating other people's work rather than doing our own thing! ...Long story cut short, I expect my days to be filled with bland, uninteresting chores which is certainly not what I seek out to achieve for a quant role! At the same time, I am well aware of my shortcomings and knowing that I would probably be no where near securing a quant role in the west, maybe I should rejoice given this less demanding role. apologies for the selective editing.The one thing I want to add is 95% of finance is dry, boring, tedious work. After this whole 'quant' explosion there is this preconception that it is all sexy geek work. Not quite. Though I certainly don't mean to discourage anyones dreams, perhaps a re-calibration might be in order. Speak to more people in the industry to really get a sense of what daily nitty gritties are, and in fact if they ever really change.From my own experience, usually only a few selected people get to do interesting work, the rest is doing all the grunt work. In order to get to do the interesting work you need either outstanding potential or to be a manager and then you can more or less select what you will work on.
 
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capafan2
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 20th, 2013, 3:26 pm

QuoteFrom my own experience, usually only a few selected people get to do interesting work, the rest is doing all the grunt work. In order to get to do the interesting work you need either outstanding potential or to be a manager and then you can more or less select what you will work on.Nobody does interesting work all the time. People who think about their careers introspectively tend to do interesting work every now and then. People who only crave for power end up in pointless slug-fest and most lose in the long run. It is not easy to do, as you have to often be true to yourself. Most people simply do not know how to do that. Most managers are simply political beasts with very low ability. For every successful senior VP or MD there are hundreds of failures who were equally deserving in theory. And also 10's of small business owners who feel good about their lives and work. Success in work life is about two things - Doing interesting work AND having control over your time and actions. No one has absolute control over both, it is a question of degree. Most people merrily give up both in their quest of "Neighbor Envy"
 
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tu160
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 20th, 2013, 3:29 pm

From my experience MR is not really a good place for quant. Top people at MR have no interest in internals of models and prefer to use models as black boxes to control exposures. They mostly value business, macro-econ skills and big picture view. MR employs quants but they are treated as nerds and there is no upside. If you want to follow quant career path stay with FO or MV.
Last edited by tu160 on April 19th, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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jf88
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 21st, 2013, 1:05 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: neuroguyCareers dont just 'progress'. You need to know what you want, how to get it and be prepared for any necessary efforts or sacrifice. Sounds like you need to figure out, from the ground up, what you want out of LIFE. Career motivation can only stem from that.If you spent most of your time while doing mathematics at university worried that you might not make it, why would doing mathematics under pressure in a bank be any more rewarding?Most things can be turned in to opportunities. Sounds like maybe your expectations were a little mis calibrated. At the very least if what you are doing is not all that demanding, but pays the bills, it can buy you time. This alone can be an asset.Thanks for your comments neuroguy. I agree with absolute everything you posted here! I never wanted to be a quant in the first place (not when I was still in the UK) but since I fell into a role like this, I thought I should probably just do it properly. However, when it turns out it wasn't a proper quant role, I became disappointed and yearned for more. Of course, in retrospect, this is misplaced and I ought to think about what I really want in life, as you suggested.
Last edited by jf88 on April 20th, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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jf88
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 21st, 2013, 1:17 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: slackerQuoteOriginally posted by: jf88Hi all,Anyway, the role seems far less mathematical than the western counterpart and is more about validating other people's work rather than doing our own thing! ...Long story cut short, I expect my days to be filled with bland, uninteresting chores which is certainly not what I seek out to achieve for a quant role! At the same time, I am well aware of my shortcomings and knowing that I would probably be no where near securing a quant role in the west, maybe I should rejoice given this less demanding role. apologies for the selective editing.The one thing I want to add is 95% of finance is dry, boring, tedious work. After this whole 'quant' explosion there is this preconception that it is all sexy geek work. Not quite. Though I certainly don't mean to discourage anyones dreams, perhaps a re-calibration might be in order. Speak to more people in the industry to really get a sense of what daily nitty gritties are, and in fact if they ever really change.No worries and thank you for letting me know about the truth of financial work! Yes, you are right on a re-calibration of expectation. I became concerned with the prospect of this current job of mine because my colleagues gave me the impression that their job scope is all about checking the work of others.
Last edited by jf88 on April 20th, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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jf88
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 21st, 2013, 1:27 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: capafan2QuoteFrom my own experience, usually only a few selected people get to do interesting work, the rest is doing all the grunt work. In order to get to do the interesting work you need either outstanding potential or to be a manager and then you can more or less select what you will work on.Nobody does interesting work all the time. People who think about their careers introspectively tend to do interesting work every now and then. People who only crave for power end up in pointless slug-fest and most lose in the long run. It is not easy to do, as you have to often be true to yourself. Most people simply do not know how to do that. Most managers are simply political beasts with very low ability. For every successful senior VP or MD there are hundreds of failures who were equally deserving in theory. And also 10's of small business owners who feel good about their lives and work. Success in work life is about two things - Doing interesting work AND having control over your time and actions. No one has absolute control over both, it is a question of degree. Most people merrily give up both in their quest of "Neighbor Envy"Thank you for sharing your experience capafan2. I will remember your words and heed your implicit advice. Thus far, I do have some control of my time and actions but none of the other success criteria.
 
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jf88
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 21st, 2013, 1:31 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: tu160From my experience MR is not really a good place for quant. Top people at MR have no interest in internals of models and prefer to use models as black boxes to control exposures. They mostly value business, macro-econ skills and big picture view. MR employs quants but they are treated as nerds and there is no upside. If you want to follow quant career path stay with FO or MV.What is MV if I may ask? You are absolutely right with regards to the bold statement. The latter is precisely how I feel when it comes to my line of work!
Last edited by jf88 on April 20th, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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bluetrin
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 21st, 2013, 2:36 pm

He probably means model validation by MV
 
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tu160
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April 22nd, 2013, 1:21 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: jf88What is MV if I may ask? You are absolutely right with regards to the bold statement. The latter is precisely how I feel when it comes to my line of work!Model Validation General wisdom is that FO quants have better pay and visibility. However today there is a strong tendency treat FO quants as IT.If you can get real desk quant job - go for it. If all your job is to connect database A to pipeline B and traders are not talking to you and even don't know your name - welcome to the IT-land.
Last edited by tu160 on April 21st, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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bluetrin
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 23rd, 2013, 10:23 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: capafan2QuoteFrom my own experience, usually only a few selected people get to do interesting work, the rest is doing all the grunt work. In order to get to do the interesting work you need either outstanding potential or to be a manager and then you can more or less select what you will work on.Nobody does interesting work all the time. People who think about their careers introspectively tend to do interesting work every now and then. People who only crave for power end up in pointless slug-fest and most lose in the long run. It is not easy to do, as you have to often be true to yourself. Most people simply do not know how to do that. Most managers are simply political beasts with very low ability. For every successful senior VP or MD there are hundreds of failures who were equally deserving in theory. And also 10's of small business owners who feel good about their lives and work. Success in work life is about two things - Doing interesting work AND having control over your time and actions. No one has absolute control over both, it is a question of degree. Most people merrily give up both in their quest of "Neighbor Envy"This is all true but what I meant is that the amount of interesting work varies greatly from individual to individual
Last edited by bluetrin on April 22nd, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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slacker
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Quant in Market Risk career prospects and possible ways of achieving them

April 23rd, 2013, 7:46 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: capafan2Success in work life is about two things - Doing interesting work AND having control over your time and actions. No one has absolute control over both, it is a question of degree. Most people merrily give up both in their quest of "Neighbor Envy"where does making money fit in
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