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How to turn a hard way to quant finance into an easy way?


This way or anther, my thoughts (I'd rather say, my heart) keep coming back to quant finance :). So, in order to be happy in life, I guess I got to get a job in the field :).

I graduated from a UK university with a research Master's degree in Data Mining 5 years ago, was given a really good references too. Before then, I obtained a Bachelor's degree in Applied Mathematics in my home country. In between degrees, I used to work in IT (Software Quality Assurance Engineer, or in simple words, Software Tester). However, since moving to the UK 4 years ago and becoming a permanent resident here, I've been looking after a family member, so I havn't worked for all this time. I've been passionate for finance since starting my Master's degree and getting a job in quant finance was my original plan when I moved to the UK.

At the moment I would be interested in Risk Management or Model Validation or some research type of roles, like Quant Researcher. So, I guess it's not Front Office, which I don't really aim for. I live in London, so ideally I would want to stay here. However, I am open minded to moving within the UK. Could go outside of the UK, but it might be difficult.

So, here are the issues I am currently having:

1) I feel my "advanced skills" in statistics, probability, differential equations etc. are not that advanced anymore after 4 years out of work due to a lack of practice. So, I feel I do need a refresher - some practical experience where I would apply those skills in practice and regain my confidence in them OR a refresher course.

2) During my recent interview I was asked if I have done any statistical modelling recently. Obviously, I havn't.

3) Perhaps my biggest problem is a lack of time due to my current responsibilities. I've been trying to do some free online courses in financial engineering, econometrics, macroecomics, Python, following financial news. I believe I managed to get some good knowledge out of them. However, I could do better if I had more time to myself. At the moment, I don't even have weekends.

The only solution I see is to get into an employment so that I could afford to hire someone to look after my family member, so that I could finally get on with my life. Given I need to spend some time to do homework in order to get into Quantitative Finance (which is kinda impossible at the mo), I tried to convince myself to forget about this idea and get some more "simple" job. But it's like true love, it is hard to forget :). So, here I am, with the list of ideas on the ways into quant finance and kindly asking the Quant Net community to comment on them:

1) Hope that some senior person believes in me, takes me on board in their company, where I would be able to refresh my skills/learn as I go :))))))))). If that happened, I would do really great. If I am given a chance, I learn very quickly and always aim for the highest standards. And after a short while the company would have a highly qualified and a very loyal employee on board. But I have never heard of this happening in quant finance, so here are more realistic options :).

2) Get a job in IT as a Software Tester. It should be straight forward because I have a job experience in this field (I do love IT, but I love Quant Finance more). It would finally give me time (as described before) and money to do a refresher course and not only. So, from here I can do the following:

2.1) Do CQF or
2.2) Do a Master's degree in Financial Engineering or
2.3) Do some online course on Data Science, like the one on coursera. In fact it is a specialisation, which consists of 9 courses and includes everything to be a good refresher to me. Also, it's free or about £300 if I want a verified certificate, which I don't think I need. After that, I can do the following:

2.3.1) To address the issue #2 above, I could talk to a professor who used to teach me probability and statistics when I studied for my Bachelor's degree and hopefully she would let me help with some of her research. I havn't thought this one through well, however it might be possible. Also, I've seen some websites where i can volunteer to do some minor research projects (if I can call it that way). So, having some fresh practical experience of working with data, to try to move into quant finance OR
2.3.2) Get a job as a Data Scientist, and after staying there for a while, try to move into quant finance. OR
2.3.3) get a job as a research assistant, may be in one of my alma maters universitites. Again, try to move into quant finance a while after that.

So, would you please comment on how good or insane my ideas are and which one is good enough to go for (if any). If you can suggest better ideas, please please please do so :).

Thanks a lot and thank you for reading so much of the text :).
Unfortunately, I do not have a meaningful input regarding your situation and hope others will comment, but are you talking about JHU's Data Science package in 2.3?
In that case, I am not entirely sure if their courses will be a good enough refresher. I think the ML course offered by Stanford might be a good alternative.
I strongly suggest NOT going for another degree. If you are interested in Risk Management I suggest networking and starting off in Risk Reporting which has a lower barrier to entry and 90% of the time leads to a FT Risk Management job.

Good luck!