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Advice on further education for quant

So I am a former premed student who decided not to go into MedSchool and changed to finance because for me there was much more interest in my finance electives than my bio/chem courses. I have been reading a lot everywhere I can about quant finance. I am a bit overwhelmed by it all and was wondering if anyone could clarify a few things and offer some advice. A bit about me, my name is Kevin Patel and I did my undergrad degree at Yale in Biology. I was premed and realized after I finished and had already been accepted into Med School that I was doing medicine for all the wrong reasons (my parents are doctors). I did take some advanced math courses though and have been learning programming since high school. After this I decided I wanted to work in finance because I actually really enjoyed the finance courses I had taken at Yale so I did my Masters at Oxford in Finance.

However, since then, the jobs I worked in have been unfulfilling and not challenging, and quite boring actually. What drew me to quant was the way Mike from quantstart.com describes it as a collegial and intellectual atmosphere. I definitely want to do something that intellectually challenges me. I am going to go back to school for my PhD (probably MPhil to PhD) but before I did I wanted to make sure I did the right studies. My MSc in Finance feels totally useless in terms of leveraging a job with it and at that time I thought any kind of degree in econ or finance would do because my background was biology. Obviously that was wrong. Most of the most interesting stuff I learn seems to come from independent study, which is why I thought a PhD might be good for me. It might allow me time to independently learn what I need to outside the pressures of a full time job and allow me to delve deeper into the academic side of quant finance. Not to mention I always enjoyed the idea of teaching at the collegial level and have experience teaching discussions/lab courses at Yale. After reading most of the info here any other websites though I realize I need a solid plan for the 3-4 years of PhD studies and really do both independent study and university courses to get to where I need to be.

My questions thus for now are general. From what I understand there are three general categories of quant jobs, quant traders, quant developers and quant analysts. It seems that quant traders usually work in hedge funds/asset management and and work with statistical analysis, pattern recognition, etc and have better hours and quant analysts work in areas like derivative pricing models at usually investment banks and like most jobs at investment banks have crazy long hours. Lastly quant developers can work in either and are involved more with software infrastructure development and translating languages, maybe from Matlab to Java or something. I ask this because I want to make sure I have time for social things, mainly family. Family is very important to me and I don't want to wake up 45 one day and unmarried and realized I worked too much. I of course know I will be working quite a bit which I am used to but I would like to be there for my family as well. Can you advice me on which area of quant would make sense for me in that case.

My other question is about what to study and choice of programs. I know many recommend a PhD in financial mathematics but also state that statistical analysis and machine learning are big now, and the machine learning research groups are usually in the computer science PhD departments, so I was wondering if that might be a better choice or if I should stay with PhD programs in mathematical finance only? If so, I found quite a few so far but I was wondering if anyone could recommend any as well. Lastly I wanted to ask about thesis topics. I wanted to do option pricing during mergers, after the announcement but before the deal goes through, as well as models to predict probability of success of the merger. One of my main research interests during my Masters was cross-border mergers with bidders from developing nations and targets from developed nations. However, after reading a lot about quant work it seems like derivative pricing would pigeon hold you into quant analyst jobs at investment banks and I don't know if that's what I want. Of course there is no rush to choose a thesis topic but I was wondering if anyone had any broad suggestions on areas to focus that could be the most use in an applied/practical/industry sense. In other words, what would make the most sense to do to gain the most practical knowledge and utility? I know people say you do a PhD because there is a clear area of research you want to explore at a deeper level. However, my interest in doing further research is more about delving deeper into its applications. As with my masters thesis, I like to look at the conclusions of any research and really think about the implications on everything from firm level policies to government policy formation. I know I definitely want to do research that involves programming, which I had originally began learning as a way to design websites during high school but have since grown to really enjoy and really love the puzzle like nature of it.

I am a bit all over I know, I always feel a bit like I don't know what I am doing in the world of finance because I spend all my undergrad time/energy/extracurriculars/etc focused on premed so now I am trying my best to learn as much as I can before wind up pursuing another useless degree.

I apologize for the long thread and thank you for any advice,
Kevin
 

alain

Older and Wiser
I ask this because I want to make sure I have time for social things, mainly family. Family is very important to me and I don't want to wake up 45 one day and unmarried and realized I worked too much.

Piece of advise, go back and be a doctor. You already tried finance and it was boring. What makes you thing it won't be boring the second time around?
 
My undergrad degree from Yale is in Molecular Biology, it has been a bit difficult justifying its usefulness, as you can imagine. I know I can get a job and already did before but I find quant stuff much more interesting. It isn't just about getting a job I guess.

I didn't say finance was boring just the jobs in finance I was doing. The field is too broad to categorize like that.
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
Piece of advise, go back and be a doctor. You already tried finance and it was boring. What makes you thing it won't be boring the second time around?
If you're worried about having family time, don't go to Wall Street. Things have gone well for me, but I didn't get to see my kids grow up.

There are too many quants and not enough dedicated physicians. Go to med school. Trade on the side.
 
I appreciate all of your advice but does anyone have any advice apart from go back and become a doctor? I would really like to know more about the world of quant finance so I can make an informed decision.
 
You went to Yale and Oxford. Not 100% sure whether you need to do a PhD at this point if it's to get a foot in the door for quantitative finance... If you're a self-starter and have the discipline, maybe just go back to quantstart.com and learn what you need to learn. Sounds like you'd do well working in a research role at a prop shop. No guarantees that you'll have the freedom you want though :/

Just a personal view - why would you do a PhD if you weren't already super passionate about a particular field?
 
Can you elaborate what you mean by a research role? What exactly does that entail?

As for the PhD, to be honest, I like to learn mostly. I feel I could definitely learn in a self-starter sense, but I would as well like the academic/collegial environment of a PhD program in which to do this learning and apply it to novel research. I guess it isn't just about learning only what I need to for quant jobs or just about getting my foot in the door.
 
Dude, you were very lucky that both your parents are physicians and you were able to go to schools like Yale and Oxford without worrying about mundane things like tuition and rent and utility bills.
Your repeated switching of fields from medicine to finance and now to quant indicates that you may never be satisfied with your life because you never had to worry about the things listed above.
Go and do a PhD. At least in a good USA university, the experience will toughen you up mentally and if you are able to get admitted you will get some exposure to these super-smart kids from Tsinghua and Moscow State and Peking U. which will either lead to a mental breakdown or you will emerge after 5 - 6 years mentally strong.
 
As for the PhD, to be honest, I like to learn mostly. I feel I could definitely learn in a self-starter sense, but I would as well like the academic/collegial environment of a PhD program in which to do this learning and apply it to novel research.

PhDs aren't about learning. They are about discovering. A lot of people struggle in grad school because they are used to reading about well developed theories and not used to formulating crappy definitions and half baked theorems. It turns out a lot of people are attracted to math because of the former and not the latter. But when you research, it's about the latter.
 
PhDs aren't about learning. They are about discovering. A lot of people struggle in grad school because they are used to reading about well developed theories and not used to formulating crappy definitions and half baked theorems. It turns out a lot of people are attracted to math because of the former and not the latter. But when you research, it's about the latter.

Absolutely. And the well-developed theories have come about after years and decades of reformulating, honing, and polishing.
 
I'm not looking to discover the next Black Scholes here guys and please don't assume you know me by a brief description. Mother and father dearest kicked me out of their lives a long time ago for reasons I don't need to discuss here....

Does anyone have any advice about the initial questions about quant traders versus quant analysts and relevant areas of research in the field currently?


check this out:

https://www.quantnet.com/attachment...oners-guide-to-mathematical-finance-pdf.1778/
 
I'm not looking to discover the next Black Scholes here guys and please don't assume you know me by a brief description. Mother and father dearest kicked me out of their lives a long time ago for reasons I don't need to discuss here....

Does anyone have any advice about the initial questions about quant traders versus quant analysts and relevant areas of research in the field currently?

@Teh Thanks, reading it now
 
Thanks for the link Teh, it was good, I would actually be really interested in seeing that seminar if you know any links to a video or audio or transcript or even papers/books by Dr. Carr on the matter.

He wrote a lot about literature for mathematicians and physicists interested in mathematical finance but is anyone familiar with resources for those of us with a finance background who are interested in the field. So far I am starting slow, from the ground up I think. I brushed up what I knew about probability and measure theory and working from there to time series analysis, advanced econometrics, stochastic calculus and binomials concurrently. I know C and Python fairly well but I got a few books on that as well, in particular applications literature.
 
Kevin, I think you'll find that you'll enjoy yourself more if you do your PhD in a business school, rather than a maths department. This is not a limitation: you can still go on to do very quantitative research, albeit with less anal focus on rigour. I switched from physics and philosophy to mathematical finance and am continuously cursing my mathematical ignorance.
 
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