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different roles - work/life balance and social environment

Hi everyone!

I have just started looking for a jobn quantitative finance. I have a PhD in acoustic engineering focusing on finite elements and sound perception (read it: a lot of calculus and a good bit of statistics). I read that some firms could be interested in a profile like mine, especially if I study to improve my comprehension of stochastic calculus. These firms might hire me as a trader or as a researcher (for instance, Jane Street).

But I have zero inside knowledge of the industry, so I wonder whether you can help me understand the lifestyle of these kinds of jobs. Essentially, I am interested in understanding two topics: work/life balance and social environment.

(A) Work/life balance
Here I would like to know:
A.1 - I expect very long working hours; I wonder whether I can find at least one hour per day to do some workout. Is there any significant variation among different firms? What about different countries? (U.S. vs Europe)
A.2 - What about weekends? Is it common to work? How often and how much time?
A.3 - What about holidays? Are they like in any other jobs, or less (or more) frequent? Again, do they depend on the country/firm?

(B) Social environment
I expect the environment to be very competitive, but I would like to understand:
B.1 - if people tend to work in cohesive teams or individually;
B.2 - how harsh is competition among people working in the same team.

Although I asked explicitly about traders and quant researchers, could you please provide me with some info about other possible positions suitable for my background?

Thank you very much!
 
I work as a quant for one of the big options market makers in Amsterdam. Working hours are not bad at all. We typically work 9 to 10 hour days starting around 9:00. I almost never work on the weekend and this is absolutely not expected. Most people eat lunch on the desk but taking lunch off the desk is also fine (everything is catered in-house). Generally our hours are quite flexible - some people start at 8:00, some at 10:00. This still leaves plenty of room for sports and hobbies. For traders the hours are a bit more tied to the trading hours of their markets. Traders for the European markets would generally start at 8:00 (open at 9:00) and leave around 18:00 - maybe 19:00 if they do some analysis. The environment is very collaborative within the quant team and there is no internal competition.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
More generally, most companies in NL have 8.30 - 17.00 work schedules. Probably simlar to French, with possible exceptiion of lunch :giggle:
Just in time for the traffic jams to Almere.
 
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More generally, most companies in NL have 8.30 - 17.00 work schedules. Probably simlar to French, with possible exceptiion of lunch :giggle:
Just in time for the traffic jams to Almere.
I actually thought that working hours were tougher... maybe they are in the US or the UK?

And, out of curiosity, are salaries as competitive as other top jobs like strategy consulting?
 
I work as a quant for one of the big options market makers in Amsterdam. Working hours are not bad at all. We typically work 9 to 10 hour days starting around 9:00. I almost never work on the weekend and this is absolutely not expected. Most people eat lunch on the desk but taking lunch off the desk is also fine (everything is catered in-house). Generally our hours are quite flexible - some people start at 8:00, some at 10:00. This still leaves plenty of room for sports and hobbies. For traders the hours are a bit more tied to the trading hours of their markets. Traders for the European markets would generally start at 8:00 (open at 9:00) and leave around 18:00 - maybe 19:00 if they do some analysis. The environment is very collaborative within the quant team and there is no internal competition.
Very useful, exactly what I needed to hear. Just two other things:
1) what about holidays? Do they work as any other job? (Number of days, when you can leave the office, etc.)
2) do you know anything about your foreign colleagues? Is their situation as it is in the Netherlands?
 
Very useful, exactly what I needed to hear. Just two other things:
1) what about holidays? Do they work as any other job? (Number of days, when you can leave the office, etc.)
2) do you know anything about your foreign colleagues? Is their situation as it is in the Netherlands?
25 days of holidays and the culture is to encourage people to actually take them incl. one block of at least two weeks a year.

Working hours in other offices are comparable - around 9-10 per day. Holidays are probably less in the US - especially when you start. Number of holidays tend to increase with tenure there.
 
More generally, most companies in NL have 8.30 - 17.00 work schedules. Probably simlar to French, with possible exceptiion of lunch :giggle:
Just in time for the traffic jams to Almere.
These hours might apply to office jobs but not to trading firms. As I wrote - traders are more 8:00 - 18:00 / 19:00. Quants typically 9:00 - 19:00.
 
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Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
These hours might apply to office jobs but not to trading firms. As I wrote - traders are more 8:00 - 18:00 / 19:00. Quants typically 9:00 - 19:00.
I was speaking in general. The exception proves the rule I suppose.
Then you are in the < 1% who have > 40 hour work week.

// I haven't worked for an employer since 1985 so I might be out of touch. One thing is sure: 24 hours in a day and you have the evening to relax.
 
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Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
I actually thought that working hours were tougher... maybe they are in the US or the UK?

And, out of curiosity, are salaries as competitive as other top jobs like strategy consulting?
London and NYC are completely different ball (high perfomance) game from Europe. 8.00 - 20.00 is quite common and then a 2 hour commute.
Maybe the stakes are higher.
 
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