SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
User avatar
Commodore
Topic Author
Posts: 22
Joined: March 18th, 2014, 4:48 pm

Ranking quant trading group prestige

June 17th, 2016, 3:44 pm

Hi everyone. Yesterday I told someone that I was interested in finding a small quant trading group to work for when I finish my PhD, ideally in a place with a relatively low cost of living. I've got kids, so I'm thinking about their quality of life. He advised against it, saying I should try to get on at the most prestigious firm that will take me. He said the first job you take after graduating becomes a label for the rest of your career, and that only after working at the big-name shop should I consider other options. He went to a top MBA school, so he's coming at it from that angle. Is he right? Would I regret taking a job with a lesser-known fund further down the line? Frankly, it seems more exciting to actually develop trading strategies for a small fund than to take a support role in a larger fund.How would I rank prestige, anyway? By AUM? By news coverage?I'm also interested in your thoughts on evaluating offers for earnings potential. Base salaries in the US are low compared to bonuses, assuming everything goes well. How can the bonus potential be predicted? Or do you just take the job at the most prestigious firm and trust that the pay will end up higher? Sorry for the deluge of questions.
 
User avatar
liam
Posts: 175
Joined: November 16th, 2004, 11:51 am

Ranking quant trading group prestige

June 18th, 2016, 4:38 pm

Sounds like your classic "it worked for me, so will for you" bits of advice. Quant finance works very differently from MBA finance so taking that advice is no better than taking advice from someone who manages a team in Sainsbury's or a TV director.Your first job can help launch you but it is not everything. The main thing is to ensure the role is the role you want. This trumps anything like firm type or time in a role in terms of importance by a long, long way. And if you find yourself doing an admin role the main thing is to get out FAST. People tend to do all the other things right - trying to make the role their own and networking, but if you leave it a year or 2 before taking action that's all it takes to destroy your career, even if you have a PhD.Sometimes managers are lazy but if they see someone has the skills they want and it wasn't at a bank they will look your firm up. It's not always an issue and I wouldn't work for a wanker that undervalues working at a small firm. There are pros and cons to each e.g. at a bank you might have a wider ranger and bigger deal flow but at small firms I've been at we wound up looking at a lot of details on transactions while even juniors got to shine and exposed to senior management and credit teams they wouldn't have gotten at a bank.Which path works out is pure luck. Personally if I had kids I would look for something more "secure" like actuary but that's just me.Anyway, In terms of the "bait and switch" all you can do is use your instincts. It's hard to pin it down to anything. If you are asked probability questions in any round then it is probably a genuine role that suits a PhD but its worth it to think "am I going to be joining a hyper competitive team?" and working with wankers that will treat you like dirt if you make the tiniest errors.Also I've been in roles where the interviewer just asks general questions like "what would you say would be a key driver in a good pricer?" instead of technical crap as sometimes even with a question like that (a bit like the FizzBuzz test) the quality stands out surprisingly easily - those type of managers also turned out to be the best I've ever worked with. Also, one trick - ask questions about the role. Some technical, others general risk and strategy questions. In some ways it's a little like when I asked some of the weaker physics lecturers about material only to realise they were not up to task, but remember quant finance can often be about "simple is better" and isn't always about using funky STL code in C++11 to price complex derivatives.The worst I ever saw was when some wanker for an Irish bank simply read out each question from the job spec for a risk role, with the gimp form HR coming in with other questionsfrom the spec. The only deviation from that was when he went "Basle II!!!" as if it was a primary school test, instead of asking "what do you know about Basle II?". Complete wanker with an obnoxious pretentious put-on South Dublin accent. I found out later on from someone I know there that the team I would have joined had a very poor reputation for risk management. What you will face will be more subtle as (sorry Cuchulainn) many Irish bankers think not only that the sun shines up their arse but that the Big Bang happened their aswell and only GStraders are worse, but it is a good example of how to spot a BS job. Also in that situation, as it was an interview for what they regarded as a risk position, what I did was simply show interest in quant finance concepts beyond the scope of the role to ensure I didn't meet them again and didn't bother putting on any performance when I realised they were wasting my time.Don't ever do an interview for experience - contrary to popular opinion you cannot learn a thing "about interviewing" from interviewing for unsuitable roles. Not if you're looking for quant or strategy roles anyway.
Last edited by liam on June 17th, 2016, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
User avatar
Cuchulainn
Posts: 62410
Joined: July 16th, 2004, 7:38 am
Location: Amsterdam
Contact:

Ranking quant trading group prestige

June 18th, 2016, 5:31 pm

Quoteobnoxious pretentious put-on South Dublin accent. [...]. What you will face will be more subtle as (sorry Cuchulainn)Hey, wait a minute, I'm from Cooley:D With a name like that, where else?
Last edited by Cuchulainn on June 18th, 2016, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
User avatar
Commodore
Topic Author
Posts: 22
Joined: March 18th, 2014, 4:48 pm

Ranking quant trading group prestige

June 20th, 2016, 2:36 am

Thank you for your thoughts, liam. I appreciate what you said about the importance of liking the role. That's probably the advice I'll follow.
 
User avatar
liam
Posts: 175
Joined: November 16th, 2004, 11:51 am

Ranking quant trading group prestige

June 24th, 2016, 2:29 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: CommodoreThank you for your thoughts, liam. I appreciate what you said about the importance of liking the role. That's probably the advice I'll follow.It's not so much liking the role it's whether or not you get trained to understand finance. Sometimes this happens anyway if you work in front office and/or get involved in investment, but the main thing is that you don't wind up either doing glorified admin or work for a firm that doesn't manage risk properly.
 
djm123
Posts: 1
Joined: July 19th, 2016, 4:02 pm

Re: Ranking quant trading group prestige

July 19th, 2016, 4:47 pm

Hey, wait a minute, I'm from Cooley:D With a name like that, where else?
Ha... me too... no, really...
ABOUT WILMOTT

PW by JB

Wilmott.com has been "Serving the Quantitative Finance Community" since 2001. Continued...


Twitter LinkedIn Instagram

JOBS BOARD

JOBS BOARD

Looking for a quant job, risk, algo trading,...? Browse jobs here...


GZIP: On