Hi, career advice from posters requested.

Hi everybody. I have been lurking these forums for a little while now reading up on the posts and getting background information on becoming a Quant. This is my first post.

I'm a Business Analyst for a Tier 2 financial services company with 10 years experience in Manhattan. My education is pretty straightforward: masters in Information Technology, finance undergrad although I've never really used the finance much...all my jobs have been here in NYC since my undergrad and they've all been in traditional Business Analysis roles in IT departments, like alot of other BAs in NYC. I do well for myself in nyc.

So right now I'm really really well versed in BA roles but my financial skills (and math) aren't skillsets I've used in 10 years...I'm mostly technical. So it looks like I will have to take some refresher courses. I do not come from a programming background, so I will likely have to take some C++. I'm cool with that. Taking GMATs in December to allow myself plenty of time to study while I work my full time job. I unoccasionally work late evenings, like one or two a month.

So really its a bit of a change for me. I'm moving from one side of the Financial house to the other. Friends of friends who are industry Quants suggest I start with Multivariable calculus, or just calculus and work my way slowly up from there until my Math is strong, take some C++ in the meantime...and get solid GMAT scores and apply to either Computational Finance or Financial Engineering. They said it doesn't matter which; the whole point is just to get into a company and once I'm in there figure out my niche and like alot of growing industries some of these Quant roles are being defined as you live it so to speak.

Anyways, comments and suggestions are welcome - where to start, what to read, what to pick up. I ask only because my situation seems more non-traditional, and coming out of college with TWO masters, you know I value education as much as the next guy, I'm a little concerned about being pegged as overqualified. My goal is to work inside a Quant job for 2-3 years to get myself to the 500K a year level and basically chill at that level for the rest of my career inside a major financial company without killing myself in work hours. Got friends who did the IB thing, saw it destroy their health and personal lives for what? 300K a year + all that stress? No thanks. I'm looking to get into Quant progs 2009-2010.

Feedback's very welcome. If you have more questions please ask and I'll do my best to reply asap.
 
Wow, $500k after 2 years?? We should be asking you for advice! I would suggest a course in multivariable calculus and then probability theory. And a refresher book on C++ would probably suffice. Also, I think most FE programs require or prefer the GRE, rather than the GMAT, so you'll want to double check that.
 
Thanks Mike. By becoming a Quant I'm taking a risk...pay cut and from what I've gathered? alot of pay comes from incentive/bonus. So maybe a 100 or 120 base and then....huge bonuses after 2 years of service. I should clarify something. I may get a year's experience at one company, then hop to another, then another....as I'm more interested in getting together with an employer who recognizes the merit of my experience and not interested in keeping me while flashing a glorified carrot in my face. If this means changing loyalities to get myself where I want to go, I have no issue with that. I understand, I'm taking on ALOT more risk doing this...but the whole idea being once I get to 500K I will be comfortable.

Think about the alternative -- having a 500K job in another function/industry involving mgmt of large numbers of people plus extra long work hours? No thanks.
 
Are we talking about Singapore dollar here ?
If it's USD, I would love to know how to get to 500K level in 2-3 years myself. I'm not sure if your quant friends told you that's how much they make, but you may be in for some surprise. In any case, after MFE you will enter with an entry level job making 100K-120K. God knows what kind of bonus you will get. If you read the news recently, you either keep the job, get a pink slip so don't expect to get hefty bonus.

Don't worry about being pegged as overqualified. I know plenty people with at least an Master before the program and more and more people are entering with a PhD. If anything, you are being viewed as not quantitative enough since your undergrad is finance.

Anyhoo, let's start with taking the GRE, calculus, C++ and take it from there. Then, just apply to a few programs and see which one you get in.

As for the list of books to buy and read, look at the master thread on my signature. Those are books used by most MFE programs.
 
Being a quant involves long hours, especially if you want the kind where your bonus is multiples of your salary. If you find a job where you only work 40 hours per week and make 500k per year, please hire me.
 

alain

Older and Wiser
Thanks Mike. By becoming a Quant I'm taking a risk...pay cut and from what I've gathered? alot of pay comes from incentive/bonus. So maybe a 100 or 120 base and then....huge bonuses after 2 years of service. I should clarify something. I may get a year's experience at one company, then hop to another, then another....as I'm more interested in getting together with an employer who recognizes the merit of my experience and not interested in keeping me while flashing a glorified carrot in my face. If this means changing loyalities to get myself where I want to go, I have no issue with that. I understand, I'm taking on ALOT more risk doing this...but the whole idea being once I get to 500K I will be comfortable.

Think about the alternative -- having a 500K job in another function/industry involving mgmt of large numbers of people plus extra long work hours? No thanks.

Let me know which quant job pays 500K after 2 years without stress so I can sign on it. I don't think you have a clear idea of what you are getting into. From my experience, you need to be really good (and what I mean by good is employers are knocking at your door, not headhunters but real people with money ready to finance you) at what you do to make that kind of money without putting extra hours and no stress.
 
It's good to be confident (pretty much necessary) and to have goals, but also to keep feet on the ground. Quant is not a get-rich-quick scheme. If it was easy, everyone would do it. The situation you describe is a best case scenario, rare.

So, if you start down this path, expect to make sacrifices, adapt to changes in the market and in how you feel about the work, and keep your eyes on your goals. If you go part time for MFE, you'll be in school for 3 years, with no life (work + school). Trust us when we say this.

Perhaps you work hard for 5 years and retire with 1 million in the bank, travel the world, build homes with habitats for humanity. Doesn't sound so bad to me.
 
Guys, thanks very much for all your input. Its really, really nice to find an online community where people don't flame each other for wanting to do better than the other man or try to bring each other down. For work hours, I expect myself being a Quant to put in about 12-14 hours a day. That works out to a 60-80ish hour work week. I still have my weekends. People I know and knew in IB work about 110. That's about the same as an ER doctor. I need that extra 30 hours to see friends and sleep. I apologize if I was not clear. My idea of a typical (Quant) workweek is 60-80, not 40.

Going in, I expect to have to cut my teeth again, prove myself, and then use my own creative marketing skills to get myself to the next level.

I love math, and have a strong strong desire to get to the level I want. I love math, and financial gain almost as much as I love women. The 500K figure I quoted is based on my friends (industry) observations as well as the expectation that in 3 years, I am getting into a VP type position (based on my experience) and as Alain and Woody mentioned, getting myself to a level where I'm above and beyond the competition; most of that money, would be coming in the form of annual bonus. So I can eventually write my own ticket. Post Tax? Realistically, 300K but 300K in hand in NYC...Jesus Christ. That's alot of money. This number being attainable after 3 years of hard work, plus entertaining other job offers while I work, plus playing those off of one another. For a Quant job that is specifically involved in creating and reformulating Quant models inside of another Tier 2 org (I seem to be comfortable in this bracket.)

Woody, I like your retirement ideas.
Alain, I appreciate your conversative views.
Andy, thanks for the book suggestions. Invaluable.
I will for my part, provide more information as I receive it.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
As a headhunter, I have to say that 500K is two years is not all that realistic, and the distribution includes numbers 1/5th of that.

With all due respect, you haven't done maths or C++ for 10 years, it's going to take serious effort to get up to the average in this game, much less pull ahead.

I must also say that my prejudices about BAs were confirmed in wtih the idea that you can do analysis of a banks processes and still think that quant hours are somehow relaxing. And I was entirely unsurprised that a BA can't program.

Frankly I don't think you're going to be a quant, just can't see it.

What you could do is break the mould of BAs and actually understand the thing you are analysing. I can see a good market for a BA who can talk to quants and FO maangers without them following the meeting with the BAs by going back to their desks and banging their heads until the pain goes away.
That's a prejudice you'd have to work hard against in the quant and trading areas, but in the IT department you'd be worshipped as a minor god.
 
That's an interesting opinion and I'm glad at least you feel that way. Did you have a chance to read all of my posts or just the first one? Did you see the comments I posted about 80 hour work weeks? Job changes? The fact that I had more to contribute in the future? Are you aware of what type of work I do in a loose industry term that is encapsulated as a BA?
No?

I know you are a busy professional, much busier than I and if you read carefully through the rest of the posts, you will see a stream of consciousness that answers most of the questions you pose. As for your speculation, it is, well, speculation and as long as you are comfortable with it good for you. Btw, I found your dual role of Headhunter and Pimp quite intriguing. Perhaps you are referring to job opportunities and functions that are beyond the scope of what I have specifically proposed here.

I understand for a headhunter it can be frustrating to lose a candidate who jumps ship frequently as quite honestly, we are not a popular lot.
I appreciate you not giving me the benefit of the doubt and dually minimizing me based on the fact that I am a BA. Your lack of encouragement only spurs me on further to pursue a career as a Quant. For those who you who have posted objective and unbiased opinions based on conservative speculation here, I thank you. As for the 'thing' I am analysing, well, Quant is not merely a one thing field. My understanding assumes a much broader scope than simply a box or a container you put numbers in.
Anyways, good luck with all of that. :)
 
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