Advise for quant career:bachelor's in physics, math, PhD, online courses?

Amelie.jones

New Member
Dear All,

I am looking for a piece of advise and I was hoping to find it here.

I am doing my master's in finance right now, although I am unsatisfied with my studies and would like to do something more challenging in life studywise and professionally. This forum was very helpful for me to understand that strong quantitative and research skills are indispensible for the career I am striving for (e.g. volatility trading). Therefore, I made a decision to get a further education.

I am considering 3 options: Bachelor's in Math, Bachelor's in Physics and PhD in Quantitative Finance. Each of them has a drawback: I hardly can do a full time bachelor's since I am working right now and to support myself financially I have to keep on working. Furthermore, I would hate to make a break in my career after graduation and will search for entry level positions in investment banking or asset management, therefore I will barely have any time for studying. I can't really imagine doing bachelor's in the meantime since I read one needs around 70 hours a week devoted for school. PhD, on the other hand, is firstly a huge long-term commitment that wouldn't allow me to develop my career in between, and secondly I doubt myself in sense I am not sure I am able to do research on a good level.

Self-education without university degree is not an option for me, since I am the type of person who needs to have deadlines and commitments to the third party to perform well and fast. Pathetic, I know, but I am still trying to get the best considering what I have in my disposion. As well, I believe the academic title could further help to develop my career.

I started considering online part-time courses. Although I am not sure it's a good decision since it requires tons of time as well but does not bring as good result as, say, doing a full-time bachelor's.

Therefore my question would be: What would you suggest me to do in such a situation and do you know some good part-time or online alternatives? I heard for instance about Open Univesrity in UK that offers a Certificate in Physics (part time), do you know how recognized or relevant such certificates are? A degree from UKI would be an asset for me since I would like to work in London and some link to UK would probably be seen more favorable by UK employers. At the same time maybe you have an alternative advise, like getting a relevant internship and learn by doing, network etc?

P.S. my background: 25 y.o. Bachelor's in Economics, Master's in Finance majoring in Capital Markets. Working in Asset Management (Fixed Income). Ukrainian, Average grades, substantial international experiences, low ability to self education, high ambition and motivation to continuosly self-improve and eventually take over the world :)
 

Pavlos Sakoglou

Well-Known Member
C++ Student
First of all you need to decide what is it you wanna do for work: trading, risk management, software engineering etc. When you do that, your options will be narrowed down to a specific field and you can focus on learning all the necessary skills for that position. I would recommend either a top MFE program or taking onlines courses in coursera.org, relevant to your decision. For example, Computational Investing, Machine Learning, Financial Engineering etc.

Another alternative in your case would be to hire a tutor - an available phd candidate or so, who can actually teach this stuff - to guide you and assist you to acquire all the necessary knowledge you need with deadlines, exercises etc tailor-made in your needs. Once you feel comfortable with your skills try to get as much interviews as you can, and hopefully you will demonstrate all this work you have done and get a job you want.

As for a second bachelor or Ph.D. I think it's a bad idea. Too much time and effort, completely unnecessary just to get the job you want. Your background is already somehow relevant, therefore spend a year or two developing the skills you need, be really good at it, and your only problem will be how to get interviews. I guess your current program will have some connections for you, otherwise create your own by networking in special events, LinkedIn, etc.
 

Amelie.jones

New Member
Dear Pavlos,
thank you a lot for your reply. I found it really helpful.

What interests me the most are derivatives trading, volatility trading, financial engineering, structured products.

Honestly, even though I am trying to find the easiest way, statistically speaking I don't know anyone who would have made a great career without a PhD in Math/Statistics/Quant Finance or wouldn"t have a bachelors in those fields with Honors Degree or any other extraordinary experience.

I believe there is no other way around further education, especially for someone like me - with no math background whatsoever except for school program.

What I'm aiming for is not a career and money itself, but to be a professional in what I am doing, to understand things deeply and to stand out.

Furthermore, companies care about academic titles/certificates of employees since they have to present them to the clients and overall to improve their reputation.

Does anyone have any thoughts about it? Any would be welcome since they make me reconsider the whole thing from the different angle.

Thank you :)
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
I heard for instance about Open Univesrity in UK that offers a Certificate in Physics (part time), do you know how recognized or relevant such certificates are?
It's not relevant to your purposes. Pick up a book on single-variable calculus and make your way through it, step by step. Then pick up another book ....
 

Amelie.jones

New Member
Hey bigbadwolf,
thank you for the advise.
Although I don't really understand how picking up books and studying them at home could be more relevant that doing a structured course with teachers, grades and diploma. Would you shed some more light on your idea?
 

Pavlos Sakoglou

Well-Known Member
C++ Student
@Amelie.jones keep in mind that companies are wiling to hire you and pay you to contribute your knowledge and skills, not for your impressive background. Even a Ph.D. in quantum mathematics doesn't guarantee you a job. It's about you, your personal skills and your implied knowledge on the subject. If you believe a structured degree/diploma is the way to achieve it, go for it. But given your background, it can be achieved with alternatives as mentioned above as well.
 

Pavlos Sakoglou

Well-Known Member
C++ Student
Also note that doesn't show self-sufficiency to be dependent on an organized structured to acquire knowledge. If a finance graduate student can't learn advanced calculus and probability theory by herself, would you hire her?

BUT if indeed you choose further education I would suggest a top MFE program (Baruch, Columbia etc. ), not a Ph.D.
 

Amelie.jones

New Member
Also note that doesn't show self-sufficiency to be dependent on an organized structured to acquire knowledge. If a finance graduate student can't learn advanced calculus and probability theory by herself, would you hire her?

BUT if indeed you choose further education I would suggest a top MFE program (Baruch, Columbia etc. ), not a Ph.D.
That's what I thought, before I ran into a couple of topics here that explain why companies want to hire PhDs and not MFE students for volatility trading for instance. They claim that the ability of research is valued highly. Why a Masters in Finance Won't Make You a Quant Trader - QuantStart

Else, what european schools for MFE or similar program would you suggest. I am considering Financial Mathematic from LSE, any thoughts?
 

Pavlos Sakoglou

Well-Known Member
C++ Student
That's what I thought, before I ran into a couple of topics here that explain why companies want to hire PhDs and not MFE students for volatility trading for instance. They claim that the ability of research is valued highly. Why a Masters in Finance Won't Make You a Quant Trader - QuantStart

Else, what european schools for MFE or similar program would you suggest. I am considering Financial Mathematic from LSE, any thoughts?
I don't believe that with two masters you will have a problem, but if indeed you want a research position and you are determined then I guess Ph.D. will put you on the top of the list. But don't fall for "I need a phd to become a quant", it's a myth for what I know.

Good European schools for MFE? Not such a thing - for many reasons according to my extended research on the subject. U.S. top MFEs or nothing. You go big or go home. That's my way of thinking. :)
 
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Amelie.jones

New Member
I don't believe that with two masters you will have a problem, but if indeed you want a research position and you are determined then I guess Ph.D. will put you on the top of the list. But don't fall for "I need a phd to become a quant", it's a myth for what I know.

Good European schools for MFE? Not such a thing - for many reasons according to my extended research on the subject. U.S. top MFEs or nothing. You go big or go home. That's my way of thinking. :)
Wow! Very interesting to get to know! Thank you for the hint.

Although it is ridiculously expensive in the US. Do you know anything about the financial support, scholarships etc? Like how hard would it be to get smth like that?
 

Pavlos Sakoglou

Well-Known Member
C++ Student
Wow! Very interesting to get to know! Thank you for the hint.

Although it is ridiculously expensive in the US. Do you know anything about the financial support, scholarships etc? Like how hard would it be to get smth like that?
Baruch is affordable and of same quality as Columbia. The MFEs in London are quite expensive as well. Small tuition differences with the U.S. Problem is, they don't match the quality of the U.S. MFEs but they charge the same, therefore what's the point of going there? No idea about scholarships but I am sure you will find something if you dig in.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
Also note that doesn't show self-sufficiency to be dependent on an organized structured to acquire knowledge. If a finance graduate student can't learn advanced calculus and probability theory by herself, would you hire her?
I would say you should have this maths knowledge _beforehand_, ideally.
 

Amelie.jones

New Member
Agreed. Otherwise will be a horse race.
Agree with that. In addition, as I just found out, the prerequisites for Baruch are quite tough. One must bring some solid knowledge to apply. So therefore I think I would spend 1-2 years working after my masters to earn money to finance my further studies and educate myself in the meantime.

Although, maybe some of you know more about this Baruch college. What's the chance that it gonna lead to a rewarding top career in quant trading in Europe? Any experience with that?
 

Pavlos Sakoglou

Well-Known Member
C++ Student
Agree with that. In addition, as I just found out, the prerequisites for Baruch are quite tough. One must bring some solid knowledge to apply. So therefore I think I would spend 1-2 years working after my masters to earn money to finance my further studies and educate myself in the meantime.

Although, maybe some of you know more about this Baruch college. What's the chance that it gonna lead to a rewarding top career in quant trading in Europe? Any experience with that?
You wouldn't want to go to Europe after Baruch, but you will certainly have the skills to go everywhere you want in the world. Also, you wouldn't like an easy MFE. The tougher the better.
Fact about Baruch: they rank in top places in worldwide trading competitions each year. That says a lot to me.
I did Baruch's Pre-MFEs, quite rigorous, quite worth it. Have you consider taking the C++ online certificate here?
 

Amelie.jones

New Member
You wouldn't want to go to Europe after Baruch, but you will certainly have the skills to go everywhere you want in the world. Also, you wouldn't like an easy MFE. The tougher the better.
Fact about Baruch: they rank in top places in worldwide trading competitions each year. That says a lot to me.
I did Baruch's Pre-MFEs, quite rigorous, quite worth it. Have you consider taking the C++ online certificate here?
I haven't thought about that yet. I was thinking to do some free online courses and then do the exam somewhere. BTW why pre-MFE and not MFE?
 

Pavlos Sakoglou

Well-Known Member
C++ Student
I haven't thought about that yet. I was thinking to do some free online courses and then do the exam somewhere. BTW why pre-MFE and not MFE?
Well think about it cause it's a Baruch Pre-MFE itself and will drastically increase your chances of getting admitted there. Plus it provides you with ready-to-use algorithms for quant finance. Very useful if you ask me.

I am doing another master right now, I took the Pre-MFEs for my own knowledge.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
I don't believe that with two masters you will have a problem, but if indeed you want a research position and you are determined then I guess Ph.D. will put you on the top of the list. But don't fall for "I need a phd to become a quant", it's a myth for what I know.

Good European schools for MFE? Not such a thing - for many reasons according to my extended research on the subject. U.S. top MFEs or nothing. You go big or go home. That's my way of thinking. :)
This is a big generalization and not true. I would be interested in the criteria used in your <quote>extended research<unquote>
 

Pavlos Sakoglou

Well-Known Member
C++ Student
This is a big generalization and not true. I would be interested in the criteria used in your <quote>extended research<unquote>
1) placement rate - alumni careers
2) price/value: what courses are taught with what faculty and syllabus under what price
3) internship placement and networking
4) programming languages taught and wi what applications
5) applicant's profile - prerequisites and acceptance rate

I know for fact that many MFEs/quant finance in main universities in London are overpriced, accept people in account of their degree grade rather than an interview or test, and their curriculum includes 4-5 courses for one year and a dissertation. It's just strange to me to train someone within a year to become a "financial engineer" without prior programming language or strong math background. I don't wanna say names or point directions, but for example one of my friends got admitted in a prestigious school in London only because he has a 7.3 GPA, and he doesn't know any programming language, he is a business grad with insufficient math knowledge. How can I trust a program with that entrance criteria which is considered top?

On the contrary, most American schools are testing skills and if the candidate can actually compete realistically speaking. I personally find that way more realistic and professional.
 

Andy Nguyen

Member
On the contrary, most American schools are testing skills and if the candidate can actually compete realistically speaking. I personally find that way more realistic and professional.
Many US programs were like that in the past until they discover that their admitted students couldn't get a job because they just couldn't speak English well enough to secure internship/job offers despite very high GPA, GRE, TOEFL scores.
Now, many top programs do phone/skype interviews. I met students of many top programs and those got admitted are usually well spoken and have good English.
 
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