SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
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access1nash
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Options after a PhD

May 31st, 2014, 8:07 am

Hi,I'm currently at a part-time PhD program and I'm really enjoying it, but I may not be able to sustain anymore since I quit my last job and suddenly there are no relevant jobs in my country. Most of the work is just operational in nature here (KYC analyst, FCC analyst, etc) and sometimes they say things like "if you don't know Murex, you can't be in Risk/Model validation", "if you don't know Totem, you can't be in Valuations" - it doesn't matter if you have the relevant experience and you're able to answer the questions they ask in an interview.....I'm not sure if there are other reasons for not recruiting, but this is the kind of response I get. How difficult is it to learn some software? Most recently, I was given feedback that "he is technically good, was able to present well, but doesn't have the experience to come in at a higher level".....The thing is I don't mind coming in at a junior AVP or Associate level, but they never ask me anyway if I'd consider it......For the few relevant jobs that get posted, I get multiple calls from different recruiters, but after that it's just silence. Anyway, my post is not to crib about the job scenario, but I really want to understand what are my options after completing a PhD if I'm not too keen on teaching. My reasons for pursuing a PhD is not for a high paying job but something that stimulates me. I love Asset Pricing theory, but I'm not too sure of the relevance (at banks) of what we study. Most of the quants at banks are mostly from Maths/Physics/CS background. Although I like Math, I don't know what could be a topic of interest for pursuing a PhD, but I know I'd enjoy a PhD in Finance/Financial Economics/Economics. The problem is I'm 32 and by the time I complete a PhD (I'll only consider US schools, may be a couple of UK schools) by 37-38, will the industry really want me back even if my thesis is on some relevant topic? I believe US could be the only place where they'll at least know what "transferable skills" are, and also there are lots of good, small funds where one could consider working. Or am I wrong in assuming that age factor won't work against me? For PhD in Finance, is there any pure research option at any university after graduating where one doesn't have to teach? I'd really love to hear from someone about what could be my options or any problems I'd face in taking this route
 
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access1nash
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Options after a PhD

May 31st, 2014, 8:11 am

(the 2nd paragraph was about pursuing a full-time PhD after dropping out from the one I'm pursuing now)
 
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Sprinter
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Options after a PhD

May 31st, 2014, 12:21 pm

first of all you should realize options are never limiting. there is a world of opportunities in the developed world. the tradition of studying and qualifying quickly at a young age is an eastern tradition. many professionals in the west start their phds after several years of experience. there are armed forces men joining investment banks after they retire from service. so there are endless opportunities. proficiency at a software should not be a problem. if you have good all round IT skills you should be able to learn and pick up skills quickly. the interface of these software is not a problem to learn in most cases it is the coding base and if you are proficient in a programming language you should be able to learn. was the job you were doing relevant to your skills and what you aspire to be. if yes it would have given you the experience on your resume useful when you had applied for jobs after your phd. have you considered a transfer of credit with you carrying on with your research at another university. if you are running out of resources and your last job suited your skills you should go back to your last employer and gain experience and earn money. you can also consider applying for phd scholarships at reputed universities. you can only be considered for jobs you apply for. if you are applying for associate roles you will be interviewed for an associate role. if you are talking about recruiters recruiters will only consider you for positions you opt for. you will have to decide the seniority level you apply for. you can also apply for phd graduate roles once you graduate. a phd is a rigorous academic qualification and if that stimulates you should enjoy teaching. have you tried? you have these couple of things you can opt for go back to your last employer or teach.
 
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access1nash
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Joined: February 1st, 2009, 4:16 pm

Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 1:09 am

Hey, thanks for your response. I'm good at a couple of programming languages, so even I don't see an issue. But getting used to a software might take a couple of weeks to more depending on how complex it is. May be they want someone to hit the ground running and don't even want to give you that little time to learn. But then the question is, how many people are there in the market who have done the exact same thing in their previous job and are immediately available to continue doing the exact same thing again.....The jobs I apply for may not be exactly what I aspire for in the long run, but they are decent ones to get your foot in the door. If I was doing those jobs while continuing my PhD, I could after a few years move into something more quantitative.....Going back to my last employer is not something I'd consider......I'm aware of those PhD graduate programs, but they are mostly for people who got into a PhD program when they were 22-23. Barclays has one, but only in NY and London. So again, my question is what are those opportunities for someone coming out of a PhD program at 37-38? At that age, obviously I can't even be considered for an AVP level, and I may not have real world experience to come in directly at a VP level. What about asset management firms? Are they less concerned about age, titles and "fit"?
Last edited by access1nash on May 31st, 2014, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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bearish
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Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 1:35 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: access1nash So again, my question is what are those opportunities for someone coming out of a PhD program at 37-38? At that age, obviously I can't even be considered for an AVP level, and I may not have real world experience to come in directly at a VP level. What about asset management firms? Are they less concerned about age, titles and "fit"?What possesses you to believe that you can't be considered for an AVP level position at some random age? Some people, in fact most people, never raises above that level. And it's not like they are expected to shoot themselves before they hit 40. I may be biased, but I have somebody working for me as a key contributor, who got his PhD when I turned 3. And I am kind of old, certainly by your standards. In these forums, we generally tell people that they shouldn't consider doing a PhD unless they are set on pursuing an academic career. The main argument behind that is that it is considered to be a fairly arduous process, and not really worth it just to get an industry job that you could probably get with a lot less academic qualifications. Your story, along with a couple of other ones I have just heard, suggests that maybe this is not quite right. But, as TJ is likely to point out, moderately successful finance PhDs in the US are looking at starting salaries of 200K+ for academic jobs, raising serious questions about why you would want to work for a bank instead...
 
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access1nash
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Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 2:25 am

Quotemoderately successful finance PhDs in the US are looking at starting salaries of 200K+ for academic jobs, raising serious questions about why you would want to work for a bank instead...First of all, thanks for your input. I'd love to have a steady research job, it's just that I'm not sure I'll make a good "teacher". Which is why I was asking about the option at universities of doing only research and not teaching. There are lots of good researchers who just stand in front of the class and read from the slides. I'm afraid I might become one of them. For the first time in my current program, I'm seeing some great researchers who are also great teachers.....but it wasn't like that before in my previous universities....But it's nice to see an example - the one you gave about a key contributor in your team......However, more often than not, people feel uncomfortable recruiting someone more qualified and older under them - not always because they feel threatened, but because it may not be fair......It's very common to see VPs by 28-30 at banks, and people do make a big deal about it. so I thought at other firms, it may be more relaxed and people being less concerned about titles......
Last edited by access1nash on June 7th, 2014, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Marco72
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Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 6:13 am

What does one do in a PhD in "finance", and what kind of industry roles are you looking at?
 
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access1nash
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Joined: February 1st, 2009, 4:16 pm

Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 6:48 am

typical courses would be in corp. finance, econometrics, financial economics, microeconomics, etc. rest would depend on your interests and you can take electives accordingly....i'm sure you can google thatGiven where I'm based, I'd be fine with roles in model validation, market risk (not risk reporting), valuations, etc for now
 
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Marco72
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Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 9:16 am

How would a PhD in stuff like corporate finance, econometrics, financial economics, microeconomics, etc, prepare you for model validation, or any another quant role? Unless you are looking for a BA rather than a quant role, I don't see how it's relevant.
 
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access1nash
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Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 9:35 am

That's what- these are core courses....one can take stochastic modelling, empirical option pricing, etc in electives to make it relevant. Asset pricing deals with equilibrium models, continuous time finance, etc. The only difference might be it may not require a lot of programming......And as such model validation doesn't require a PhD...it's just that nowadays employers have been asking for it since they are available...just like Product Control doesn't require MFEs, but banks still recruit MFEs for itPhD in Finance also keeps the door open for roles in asset mgmt firms, hedge funds, etc for roles in asset allocation, quantitative portfolio strategies, etc. It might be a little late for me to make a change in that direction, but I guess some funds in the US might still want to take a look at someone with a PhD in Finance
 
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Sprinter
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Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 9:56 am

firstly employers look for "original" research and skills acquired during researching. so you should concentrate on doing original research rather than pretending you are old and behind compared to young high flyers. are there any model validation, market risk analytics jobs where you are based. if you have the skills you should find a job locally. your earlier post suggested the local market is void of quantitative jobs. do you really think employers will not give you a matter of a few days to learn let alone the established fact it takes six months for a new joiner to get up to speed at a true quantitative role and settle. you should get past the idea of large institutions not hiring older people. you should first get convinced there is no age limit to entrance into a fund or an investment bank. you ask experienced finance professionals and they will tell you from their experience it wasn't like this. you are trying to get into a profession without knowing what it entails.what you are writing is not making sense compared to what a typical desperate job seeker would write. you should apply for jobs all around the world east west and get past the notion of age limiting opportunities. A typical student would concentrate on getting the phd done while getting a job as quantitative as possible.
 
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access1nash
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Joined: February 1st, 2009, 4:16 pm

Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 10:36 am

what you're saying was probably true in 2005-2006 and it makes sense. But that's not the reality here. There are quantitative market risk roles and my CV was sent by a recruiter to the bank. and he came back saying that they are looking for someone who has used Murex before. Another local bank also had a role in model validation and job requirements matched my profile. One recruiter passed my CV but I didn't hear back. After 3 weeks the job was still open. They probably asked another recruiter to arrange them a candidate. Those recruiters also contacted me again and I mentioned I have already applied before. After 5 weeks, the job is still open. So whatever you're saying is that something that you've actually seen how it works or just your opinion? Nobody is going to allow anyone 6 months for sure since most new roles nowadays are 1 yr contract roles even in Market risk and model validation. What's the point in applying "east west" if you don't have a work visa? I'm only a MFE and there are lots of MFEs in NY and London who'd take those roles any day. So why'd any employer sponsor your visa when they have local candidates?I'm talking from my current experience now in the local market, which is very different from what I thought it'd be like.....even what I have written below about some roles that'll open up for a PhD in Finance is just my thought. It seems logical to me, but it may be far from reality. Which is why I needed opinions from experienced people who are actually looking at CVs everyday and recruiting people. I need to realistically assess my options instead of indulging in wishful thinking.
 
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Sprinter
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Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 10:42 am

a phd in finance cannot get you in a quantitative role. a phd in finance usually leads to academic jobs. a hiring manager at a financial institution can rather hire an mba or an msc finance rather than a more expensive phd. you should probably try an msc in financial mathematics after your phd in finance. or cqf. cqf can be completed distantly and offers discount for developing countries. model validation requires replication of models re-implementation of models with a risk perspective. you should be fully aware of the pricing models stochastic calculus simulation coding techniques optimization the skills you will not acquire through a phd in finance. the age competition between candidates is a myth. you should get past these notions.
 
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access1nash
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Joined: February 1st, 2009, 4:16 pm

Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 10:51 am

Like I said, I'm a MFE. I don't need a CQF. I know what model validation is about.
 
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Sprinter
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Options after a PhD

June 1st, 2014, 10:52 am

your aspiration to get into a truly quantitative role will not be fulfilled unless you venture into the developed markets of the developed world. if you are happy with what the local market has to offer its your choice. but you said you quit your job and suddenly there are no quantitative roles. there are hundreds of thousands of work visas issued each year. where do they go. there are people actually hired from abroad. and if you are capable you should get a job. you can consider getting into a financial institution and then probably moving to a relevant department. you will have to be completely honest with recruiter and let him search for an appropriate role for you. you are doing a phd in finance part time with no quantitative experience. you will not be made a quant like this. you will have to get quantitative skills. did you try applying for graduate roles after your masters. I read your post after I had posted the earlier post.
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