From Wealth Management to Quantitative Finance

FromWMtoMFE

New Member
Hi All,

I've been working in wealth management division at a one of the biggest banks in Asia for almost 4 years now. I started as a management associate and worked my way up to product manager - mutual funds. For the last year and a half, I have been involved in digital products (think developing platforms for retail investors to transact electronically) which is where I developed interest in tech and quant finance.

I have completed undergrad in business administration (majors in finance) with a gpa of 3.4 and cleared all 3 levels of CFA. I wish to get into quantitative finance, more specifically quant portfolio management, however, I have close to zero programming experience (and little math experience, besides Calculus and Linear Algebra and a few intro/intermediate level math courses in undergrad in which I did get an A/A-).

I'm learning programming languages (C++,Python) online through MOOCs and I've used my rapport with senior management to land a project in Fund Transfer Pricing where I can apply some basic coding/modelling skills I've learnt.

I've got 2 questions:

1) With my credentials above, do you think I will be able to get into a good MFE program? Dream is Berkeley but, of course I do understand it's a long shot.

2) Besides quant portfolio management, what kind of jobs do quants get into? Are they all back-end/middle-office roles? I'm asking this cause I love maths and finance (and I'd like to believe that I'm fairly good at both) which is why I'm keen on applying for MFE. However, of late, running a P&L business, I have acquired considerable stakeholder management skills, which I think would of little use in quant roles. I could be wrong though.

It's a lengthy post so if you've read this far, THANK YOU. And of course, any help is much appreciated.
 
Hi All,

I've been working in wealth management division at a one of the biggest banks in Asia for almost 4 years now. I started as a management associate and worked my way up to product manager - mutual funds. For the last year and a half, I have been involved in digital products (think developing platforms for retail investors to transact electronically) which is where I developed interest in tech and quant finance.

I have completed undergrad in business administration (majors in finance) with a gpa of 3.4 and cleared all 3 levels of CFA. I wish to get into quantitative finance, more specifically quant portfolio management, however, I have close to zero programming experience (and little math experience, besides Calculus and Linear Algebra and a few intro/intermediate level math courses in undergrad in which I did get an A/A-).

I'm learning programming languages (C++,Python) online through MOOCs and I've used my rapport with senior management to land a project in Fund Transfer Pricing where I can apply some basic coding/modelling skills I've learnt.

I've got 2 questions:

1) With my credentials above, do you think I will be able to get into a good MFE program? Dream is Berkeley but, of course I do understand it's a long shot.

2) Besides quant portfolio management, what kind of jobs do quants get into? Are they all back-end/middle-office roles? I'm asking this cause I love maths and finance (and I'd like to believe that I'm fairly good at both) which is why I'm keen on applying for MFE. However, of late, running a P&L business, I have acquired considerable stakeholder management skills, which I think would of little use in quant roles. I could be wrong though.

It's a lengthy post so if you've read this far, THANK YOU. And of course, any help is much appreciated.
Berkeley is overpriced. Was 65K last time I checked. Is it still a 1yr program? I understand "opportunity cost", but to the uninitiated, 1yr is too fast for an MFE.

Linear Algebra is quite important for an MFE, as everything will eventually turn into matrices. If your Calc and Linear Algebra are still conceptually fresh, you're good to go. Not sure what MOOCs you're using, but feel free to try a different platform or 2. Sometimes learning programming speeds up when you see something overlapping from a different perspective. Udacity and DataCamp come to mind. The former has almost all courses free (go to catalog at the bottom).

If you want to be a Quant PM, maybe start messaging those in the field. (Does PIMCO have Qaunt PMs?) It will give more focus to your next steps. You'd be surprised at how often professional respond to you on LinkedIn. You also have plenty of experience, so chance they;d ignore you is even less.
 

quantsmodelsbottles

Active Member
For self learning, take actual online college courses such as MIT OCW Algorithms with Eric Dermaine, Linear Algebra with Gilbert Strang, and Harvard Stat 110 with Joe Blitzstein. These will give you all the foundations you ever need.
 

FromWMtoMFE

New Member
Berkeley is overpriced. Was 65K last time I checked. Is it still a 1yr program? I understand "opportunity cost", but to the uninitiated, 1yr is too fast for an MFE.

Linear Algebra is quite important for an MFE, as everything will eventually turn into matrices. If your Calc and Linear Algebra are still conceptually fresh, you're good to go. Not sure what MOOCs you're using, but feel free to try a different platform or 2. Sometimes learning programming speeds up when you see something overlapping from a different perspective. Udacity and DataCamp come to mind. The former has almost all courses free (go to catalog at the bottom).

If you want to be a Quant PM, maybe start messaging those in the field. (Does PIMCO have Qaunt PMs?) It will give more focus to your next steps. You'd be surprised at how often professional respond to you on LinkedIn. You also have plenty of experience, so chance they;d ignore you is even less.
Thanks for your insightful feedback, AppliedMath. Since writing this post I have done a bit more research and shortlisted MIT, UCLA, CMU, and Princeton instead (I wrote to Berkeley and didn't get an encouraging response so decided to not put an application there). Also, Princeton is a very long shot as I don't think I stand a chance there but I'll try still.

I have also started taking courses online. I'm taking MIT programming course with edX (to learn Python). This is certified which means I will be able to use this towards fulfilling my deficiency in programming languages (the course is quite challenging and I think I'm getting solid learning out of it). Next I'm planning to take a course in probability (I haven't decided which one yet). With those 2, I hope I would have overcome my deficiency in math and programming, to some extent at least (I have already taken Cal 1 & 2 and Linear Algebra and a couple of Stats courses during my undergrad, jbtw).

From this, do you think I stand a chance at the universities I'm aiming for? My profile is as follows:
GPA: 3.45 undergrad in Business Administration with majors in Finance (one of the best business schools in Pakistan)
Semester abroad: 3.87 at a decent private uni in midwest (US)
GRE: Taking next week and aiming 320+
Experience: Almost 4 years in Wealth Management (product and research on mutual funds side); last 3 (of the 4 years) is outside Pakistan (in Malaysia & Sing)
CFA: Level 3 cleared
Programming: Python (certified course from MIT-edX)
Math: Mostly A/A- at Uni (Cal 1, Cal 2, Linear Algebra etc)

My aim is to get into quant asset management, post MFin/MFE. Thoughts?
 
I don't personal know people who went to some of these higher ranks schools for an MFE. It would be easier to compare. However, if you enjoy comparisons, Students Perspectives | Master of Financial Engineering | Berkeley Haas you can leaf through profiles of people who were accepted to that program over various years. No idea how representative the sample is.

There are a lot of differing idea on what educational background you should have. I'd say, pic the 3 toughest math-based classes in a program you want, find the book on those topics, and read the Table of Contents. If you're blown out of the water, the n you don't have the background. Otherwise, you're fine. Two examples, Stochastic Calculus, and Interest Rate Modeling. If you have the prereqs for those, no other MFE math will haunt you.

To know how you stack up in terms of the best schools, there's a thread for that. My own angle, is that if you could be considered a decent candidate for those schools, it would be useful to try others. Not all applications are expensive.
 

BlindJak - CQF

New Member
Can you really afford to take a year out of your career? If not, an alternative would be the Certificate in Quantitative Finance. (www.cwf.com)

It’s a part time course that only takes six months and can be scheduled around your career. I.e. no opportunity cost of a career break. The CQF is focused on delivering practical quant finance and machine learning skills, rather than just academic theory and is delivered by a faculty of world-renowned market practitioners.

There is also a life long learning alumni portal that keeps you up to date with the latest quant finance developments and hot topics. Whereas, with an academic degree such as the MFE, your development and learning ends as soon as you gain your qualification.

And it’s better value. A quick look at the Berkeley site suggests a cost of over $110k vs $16k for the CQF.

Just a thought.
 
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