From PhD in acoustic engineering to quant finance

Hello everyone,

First post here in the forum :)

I finished a PhD in computational acoustics and psychoacoustic a couple of months ago, and I am now looking for a career shift. I am essentially evaluating quantitative finance and strategic consulting (I know they are totally different, but they both fascinate me in a way, and I am sure that through the process, I will finally understand which one is better for me).

Now, regarding quantitative finance, I am especially interested in trading and research, but I might evaluate something else if I discover I like it.

I have some doubts, and I hope you can help me:
1) For most positions I have seen, no previous experience with finance and trading is required (this is true for both trading and research); however, people often say that basic knowledge of stochastic calculus is a plus. Since stochastic calculus is a vast field, could you mention the most important topic that I *should* know?
2) In the case of strategy consulting, the CV has to be written in a very precise and specific manner; is it the same for quantitative jobs? Could you provide me with some links on properly structuring a CV for quant jobs?
3) Due to a series of reasons, I am "old" (33 years old). My professional experience comprises an internship of 6 months as a researcher in a Fortune global 500 company, one year and five months as a researcher in the same company after my master and slightly less than four years for the PhD in a top French engineering school (I have other work experiences, but they aren't related). Do you believe that my age can be a serious issue to get a job in this field?
4) I am European, but many (most?) job openings are in the US. Does it make sense to apply in the US, or getting the VISA and all the bureaucracy sorted out is too complicated? Would US-based offices even consider my application?

Sorry for my language skills, I am not a native English speaker.

Thanks a lot!
 
What?
What methods do you use? wave equations?

Hi @Daniel Duffy, sorry, yesterday I was in a rush and I hadn't the time to write a proper answer.

So, first of all, thanks for your reply :) Since you asked for the methods I used during my PhD, I assume that maybe my technical background and the methods/techniques I am familiar with may be important; here you are:

(1) basic signal processing (stuff like data sampling, aliasing, leakage, windowing, convolution, spectra, auto-power, power spectral density, etc.);
(2) VERY basic numerical algebra (adjoint/transpose matrices, condition number, some algorithm for matrix decomposition, singular value decomposition);
(3) Kalman filter (linear, in the discrete time-domain, I used an "augmented" version - that is, I was not using it to estimate the state of a system, but the force acting on it)
(4) Finite element method for the Helmholtz equation (basically everything there is to know from a theoretical perspective: basis of functional analysis, approximation and pollution errors, high order shape functions, adaptivity, etc. + application to real simple problems);
(5) Finite elements for structural problems (slightly different from the Helmholtz equation; I am less skilled in this domain - if it's important I may have a look at it; if I remember well, each type of FE (bar, beam, shell, etc.) solve a different equation in this specific case, but I need to double-check this statement);
(6) data processing for psychoacoustic application (namely: data standardization, some clustering techniques, PCA, ANOVA, regressions).

I am good with Matlab (which I assume isn't that common in the finance environment), and I used python sometimes but only for very basic scripts (e.g. make some finite element meshes automatically, and I used it in combination with freqtrade to build some simple automatic trading script for cryptocurrencies - I ave a bot running right now)
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
AFAIR Matlab is still used but Python is more popular and less expensive. Of course, Matlab is not real progamming, it is more of a very useful tool.
Real coding skills are good to have.
 
AFAIR Matlab is still used but Python is more popular and less expensive. Of course, Matlab is not real progamming, it is more of a very useful tool.
Real coding skills are good to have.
It is excellent news that Matlab is still used sometimes; I actually thought it wasn't. Luckily for me, I did enough python coding to know what are the significant differences between the two, and I am rather sure that I can learn how to use python for advanced stuff very quickly - so it shouldn't be an issue even if python is the main code for any job position.

What about the four questions that I asked in the opening post? Do you believe you can help me with those?

Many thanks again :)
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
Well, you need to check if Matlab is hot. The quants on this forum would have a more precise idea.
1) more maths IMO. The maths CV comes across a bit like a toolbox, as a blackbox. Can you program all the FEM stuff in say, Python?

2,3,4 Sorry, no idea.
 
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Well, you need to check if Matlab is hot. The quants on this forum would have a more precise idea.
1) more maths IMO. The maths CV comes across a bit like a toolbox, as a blackbox. Can you program all the FEM stuff in say, Python?

Well, I did it in Matlab; in python, most likely yes, but I probably need a bit of time more...

Thanks for the input!
 
hi here are my 2c.

1) For most positions I have seen, no previous experience with finance and trading is required (this is true for both trading and research); however, people often say that basic knowledge of stochastic calculus is a plus. Since stochastic calculus is a vast field, could you mention the most important topic that I *should* know?
I think u need to have some basics understanding in order to solve interview questions. More advanced stuff can just be picked up on the job.

2) In the case of strategy consulting, the CV has to be written in a very precise and specific manner; is it the same for quantitative jobs? Could you provide me with some links on properly structuring a CV for quant jobs?

It depends, I think the old school places do want clearly constructed CV, but more tech oriented prop shop/ fund dont seem to require it.

3) Due to a series of reasons, I am "old" (33 years old). My professional experience comprises an internship of 6 months as a researcher in a Fortune global 500 company, one year and five months as a researcher in the same company after my master and slightly less than four years for the PhD in a top French engineering school (I have other work experiences, but they aren't related). Do you believe that my age can be a serious issue to get a job in this field?
Again for tech oriented position, I dont think age is a big issue, plus, 33 is still young imo.

4) I am European, but many (most?) job openings are in the US. Does it make sense to apply in the US, or getting the VISA and all the bureaucracy sorted out is too complicated? Would US-based offices even consider my application?
They would still consider you. I think it makes sense to at least give a try.
 
thanks a lot @Skylime
hi here are my 2c.

1) For most positions I have seen, no previous experience with finance and trading is required (this is true for both trading and research); however, people often say that basic knowledge of stochastic calculus is a plus. Since stochastic calculus is a vast field, could you mention the most important topic that I *should* know?
I think u need to have some basics understanding in order to solve interview questions. More advanced stuff can just be picked up on the job.
Good that I don't have to study advanced stuff. Just to understand a bit better, what kind of interviews questions may I receive? Do I only need to know what a stochastic partial differential equation is and how to solve it? Are there any stochastic PDEs particularly important in finance that you suggest I may read?

2) In the case of strategy consulting, the CV has to be written in a very precise and specific manner; is it the same for quantitative jobs? Could you provide me with some links on properly structuring a CV for quant jobs?
It depends, I think the old school places do want clearly constructed CV, but more tech oriented prop shop/ fund dont seem to require it.
I believe I will apply only to tech-oriented companies since I understand a bit of maths and coding, but almost nothing about finance... so that's a good piece of news

3) Due to a series of reasons, I am "old" (33 years old). My professional experience comprises an internship of 6 months as a researcher in a Fortune global 500 company, one year and five months as a researcher in the same company after my master and slightly less than four years for the PhD in a top French engineering school (I have other work experiences, but they aren't related). Do you believe that my age can be a serious issue to get a job in this field?
Again for tech oriented position, I dont think age is a big issue, plus, 33 is still young imo.
Very good for me :)

4) I am European, but many (most?) job openings are in the US. Does it make sense to apply in the US, or getting the VISA and all the bureaucracy sorted out is too complicated? Would US-based offices even consider my application?
They would still consider you. I think it makes sense to at least give a try.
Again, very good!
 
Hi there, there are quite a few classic interview prep books such as "heard on the street" etc, these books all contain a chapter on stochastic cal / random processes, etc, make sure you understand topics enough to solve those questions.
I would also suggest that you connect with some headhunters on linkedin and setup some discussions, but dont let them rush in sending out your resumes.
 
@Skylime, thank you very much; that's some valuable pieces of information!

Since you brought up these two subjects (interview preparation and networking on LinkedIn), may I take the opportunity to ask you other two questions?
(1) I'll order "heard on the street" today; is there any other important step that you would suggest or a classic approach to interview preparation? I was following this thread, but I assume it is not exhaustive: Study programme for quant researcher interviews
(2) Networking is quite hard for me; I only managed to start a discussion with a guy working at Street Jane Capital (I contacted several others actually, without response); the problem is that I have no idea who and how to look for. Could you provide some clues? Maybe the name of some headhunting companies (if they exist...)

Thanks again!
 
@Skylime, thank you very much; that's some valuable pieces of information!

Since you brought up these two subjects (interview preparation and networking on LinkedIn), may I take the opportunity to ask you other two questions?
(1) I'll order "heard on the street" today; is there any other important step that you would suggest or a classic approach to interview preparation? I was following this thread, but I assume it is not exhaustive: Study programme for quant researcher interviews
(2) Networking is quite hard for me; I only managed to start a discussion with a guy working at Street Jane Capital (I contacted several others actually, without response); the problem is that I have no idea who and how to look for. Could you provide some clues? Maybe the name of some headhunting companies (if they exist...)

Thanks again!
1) The guide seems to be pretty solid advice.
2) I've interacted with GQR and Options group before, I think they both have pretty strong presence in the US fintech market. Im not based in the US right now, perhaps others can contribute to the list of good headhunter firms.
 
I've interacted with GQR and Options group before, I think they both have pretty strong presence in the US fintech market. Im not based in the US right now, perhaps others can contribute to the list of good headhunter firms.
Thanks a lot, I'll look for them online. By the way, I am not strictly interested in the US - actually, being in Europe, I believe it will be easier for me here (what possibilities are there in Europe? London, Paris, Frankfurt and Zurich? Anything else?)
 
Thanks a lot, I'll look for them online. By the way, I am not strictly interested in the US - actually, being in Europe, I believe it will be easier for me here (what possibilities are there in Europe? London, Paris, Frankfurt and Zurich? Anything else?)
London, Amsterdam. Some of the top HFTs are actually dutch. (Optiver, IMC)
 
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