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Interview with Dominic Connor

Dominic Connor is a partner in P&D. He teaches C++ in the CQF program and has been recruiting for quant positions. Based on London, UK, Dominic is well known both via his work as a headhunter and a prolific poster on the online quant communities. We'd like to thank Dominic for taking the time to sit down for an interview with QuantNet. Thanks, Dominic!

Can you give us a brief bio?

Paul Wilmott & I started P&D recruitment about three years ago. Before that I'd been a CIO for a brokerage firm in fixed income, having worked at a variety of IBs. I'm married with two kids, live in Epping Forest on the edge of London.

What is your educational background?

I'm a former student of Paul Wilmott on the CQF, and before that did Maths/Comp Sci at university, and worked on a project to apply fuzzy logic to stock picking.

What do you consider as your accomplishments up to this point?

As a teenager I worked on an industrial process to plate gold onto Teflon. Was tricky, and mildly dangerous. (hint: mixing gold potassium cyanate, nitric acid and electricity should not be tried at home). Whilst working as a consultant to the British Treasury, the accountant in charge of the British national debt calculated that on an hourly basis I was the most expensive person in the pay of the British government. This was an attempt to get the bank that employed me to cut their rates. It failed.

Any failures you'd like to tell us about?

No...
But if you insist, early in my career I tried to apply artificial intelligence techniques to stock picking, was awful, we genuinely believed that technical analysis had some merit. My excuse was that I was young.

What other projects and/or ventures are you involved in?

I teach on the CQF, and have a venture looking at extremely low latency trading systems.

What would you want to do for a living if you weren't a quant recruiter?

I'd go back to bossing people around in some IB, or if all else fails take the job in algo trading I was accidentally offered by a bank which confused quant headhunting with being a quant. I like teaching, so would do more of that.

What advice can you give people just getting into quantitative finance field? What are the most common mistakes you see newbie making?

The most common structural error is to not making an effort to understand as much about the job as you can. A growing failure mode is students who have strong foreign accents not socially mixing with their peers outside their ethnic group. This hurts their networking a little, but in a surprising % of cases I encounter MFEs who have anything up to 4 years education in the US or Britain who I cannot understand when they speak. In some cases, my ears tell me that they're not speaking English at all. But their written and reading skills are excellent.

Another mistake is thinking that the MFE will get you a career. It will get you interviews, not even a job. You are all running up a down escalator in competition with others. You have to learn more than you are taught. Being just another MFE might get you a job, it won't make you rich.

What technical skill set, personal qualities that you look for in a prospective job seeker?

Obviously this is a math based career, and I like to see some breadth beyond the standard core that everyone is expected to have. Banks are less interested in hiring people who only know the narrow band of maths you see in quant text books. I like to see 'creativity', that's hard to define, but one approximation is the habit of trying to use ideas out of their original context. This is especially applicable to a game like ours where most people are from other backgrounds, you should be thinking of how to make this stuff work in finance. Typically you will fail, but the effort itself has value.

I like to see articulate people for several reasons. First up of course they do better at interviews, but a surprising % of the people I speak to leave me with the feeling that they don't really understand the thing they've been doing for the last few years. I could of course be mistaken, but that error hurts them more than me. But as I say elsewhere, you need to be able to explain if you want to prosper in this line of work.

How has your business changed over the years? What challenges will you face in the future?

The diversity in jobs has increased enormously. When Derman started in this business, quants were few, and most could switch track radically without effort. Now every aspect of investment banking requires at least some quant skills. Recently we talked to a large IB about quant compliance, an idea I am still getting my head around. Certainly, customer facing business development staff often now need quant skills, which hurts some older players, because they need to explain to clients and their advisors the nature of sophisticated, and thus higher margin products.

What skills (technical, social) you believe are essential to being a successful MFE?

I'm going to focus on the non-obvious aspects, rather than the obvious stochastics, PDEs, numerical methods et al.

A good technical skill, to be useful should be a lightning rod for interview questions, which means you should choose your "banner" skills as those where you can beat others.

Reviewing my posts on Quantnet, I don't push Excel VBA hard enough as a technical skill. It probably won't get you a job, but will improve your visible productivity early in your job.

In this climate, there is a stronger trend towards "needs" based hiring over "want". That means sprinkling in a few relatively low level buzzwords can make you seem like the person they have to hire to get certain work done.

Some social skills that will help you progress:
Ability to disagree with your boss in a way that does not offend him, his intelligence, or in some cases, his mother.
You're smart, else you wouldn't be doing this, and with that comes opinions which is good, but there are a pair of failure mode where quants argue needlessly and badly, and/or simply take any view of your boss with sullen silence.

Ability to explain yourself.
We like to see people who've had experience explaining things because a quant is a local expert in some area, and that means you need to communicate what you think. A good exercise is to "cross domains". For instance force yourself to explain any finance concept in terms of card games and best on horses, and when that simply won't stretch, seek out gambling games like roulette. It's news to some people that bookies hedge, which really ought to be obvious.

It's not enough to know the algebra of Kelly criteria, you should feel it, but that's no excuse for not knowing the maths.

Given current market headlines, is demand for quants increasing, decreasing, or remaining the same? Are certain quantitative skill sets becoming more valuable?

A year from now I expect more quants to be employed than today, but supply is increasing, so at some point there will be a serious gap in supply and demand. This is being delayed partly by the increase in variety of jobs

Where are the areas (product, geographic) that you are seeing most recruiting happening and who are still hiring? What will be the hottest trend?

Algorithmic trading has so far managed to avoid any major blow ups, and the technology is at a stage where the barriers to entry are relatively low. This means the large banks are not cutting this much, and some are expanding. However the quite appalling state of some major IBs infrastructure means the prop shops can compete on more equal terms. This is all good news for employment relative to the current market.

For a recent MFE graduate looking to join a trading desk, which type of desk is better, flow desk or prop desk and why? Hedge fund or IB?

You'll learn more on a prop desk, but some firms have flow trading as part of a structured process by which you get a picture of the whole business which makes you more effective. So flow is good as *part* of your training, but not so good if it's *all* you do, and prop is a steeper learning curve but you don't go so deep.

A lot depends on the IB you are comparing to a HF. I'd take DE Shaw over many IBs, but brands have more value when you are at the start of your career.

You are a big C++ advocate, how would one benchmark his level of C++ worthiness that deem acceptable to you? Is there a set of exam, test, etc?

No.
The Brainbench tests are the least useless, but their main utility is being a cheap quick way of filtering out the truly hopeless. I regard myself as understanding some maths or programming only when I can correct the errors of others, and I think that you should not put any language on your CV unless you've fixed some bugs of your peers. This is a dirty secret of quant finance, about 60% of the work is programming and circa 50% of that is debugging. I guess a Baruch grad has 30 years of work ahead of him, so that's 10 years of fixing code. If that thought makes you physically ill, quit now.

How would one gauge his own level of success in this industry? For example, after 5 years, must one be at a certain income level with a certain title?

I'm famous for saying that you spend more time with the people you work with than who you sleep with. When people tell me about how content or unhappy they are, respect of their peers is a big factor. This is a very important and delicate issue; people who will happily tell me what they earn or important personal data, will skirt this issue.
Income correlates with respect, but again it's the rate of change and how your set of possibilities evolves that affect your morale.
I know this from my own experience, I quit my last real job because I simply could not see anything that I could do that I felt was worthwhile.

As a headhunter, it's not my job to tell people what to want, it is to find out what they want and then help them get it. Money is a factor in choosing one job over another, but for most people it is not the reason that makes them get in contact with me. Money is an objective measure of the "respect" your firm/boss has for you. One reason for the quite dreadful IT in several large firms is that IT people get random small numbers, uncorrelated with their contribution. When quant developers get dropped into IT, their morale drops faster than their pay.
One reason I'll never have to get a real job again is that nearly all banks are structurally incapable of developing people's careers. Occasionally a bank will do this mildly well, but then lose interest.

Many employers under-weight the importance of job titles as part of recognizing people's evolution

Do you have any advice for someone who may be starting their career in a second-tier financial center like Chicago?

Leave.
More seriously, you need to put a bit more effort into networking, and where you have the choice try to go for more branded employers. In this market, that is not always easy, so try to pick jobs where you are learning. Chicago may be further from Wall Street, but that matters a lot less if the job is closer to the money. Sometimes there is a rational trade off to make.

What are your opinions on prop shops? I've heard people say taking a job at one of these places is a black mark on your resume as far as IBs are concerned.

Yes, some managers do see prop shops as beneath them, but many like the idea that you are close to the money, this should be something you push when you go for other jobs.
I see quite a few quant jobs right in the "high frequency" trading space, and a lot of the math involved (signal processing, etc.) are quite different than the stuff taught in typical MFE programs. Is self-study for this subjects a realistic option for these openings, or should we just leave these openings to Electrical Engineers who have been doing this for a living?

That's a pretty accurate summation, though we do have a few algo traders who are self taught in the relevant techniques. Although the strongest demand is for those with PhD level SP, good undergrad experience combined with the right maths can get you there. Typically an EE can't do more than about 25% of his degree in things relevant to SP, so self study is not impossible, but getting a job is then dependent upon your ability to project that to a prospective employer.

There is also demand for the very top end of econometrics whizzes, though the feedback I get is that employers find many mainline economists don't quite have the depth they require.

What can be done to attract more women into quantitative finance field?

Show them the money.
They also need to get the message about the work. It's inevitable that many people both males and females have an incomplete model of the opportunities and career paths. As I say above there's more types of jobs than anyone might suspect, so this is an entirely fixable situation. We advise women on this, but course if they don't look too hard at this line of work, they never find us in the first place.

The deep problem though is arts graduates in the media pumping a message that anyone who does science is an ugly geek with no friends. But we can't fix this.

What do you think are the difficulties for women to thrive in this male-dominated career and what would be your suggestions?

Although you may work for a bank with 100,000 people, investment banking leans towards lots of smallish groups, so you may end up in an all male team. Some women seem put off by this, and I have seen a couple turn down roles on that basis.
I see less networking by women, which on the whole holds them back.

There is of course sexism, and I'm not going to pretend it doesn't do damage. But I've worked in several industries and interacted with most professions, and I'm pretty confident it is less bad in investment banking than most other places, especially media, government and retail banking. I have met precisely one senior woman senior retail banker, yet like in nursing there's plenty at the lower levels.
But the money in quant work is better, so my cynical position is that if you're going to be discriminated against anyway, you might as well get well paid for it. IBs make more millionaires from ethnic minorities than any other line of work, so I don't see any major barrier to extending that to women.
We're looking at doing an "Investment Banking for Girls" event with one of the major banks, for women doing the right subjects. Aside from the requirement to think of a better name, it will use all our resources to get enough in one place simply because the vast majority of proto-quants are men.

What have been your experiences placing female candidates? Do they face more obstacles or being short-changed as a female?

It's easier for us to get an interview for a woman, and on average they are more likely to get a given job. Being a headhunter, it follows that I have better data on the transitions between jobs than how women progress within those jobs. Hiring managers from a wide range of business have privately told us they'd actively like to see more women. That to me is a clear signal that if I find more good female quants, my business will grow faster.
Joining the dots of the snapshots I have of female quant careers, I see no evidence that FQs move up the food chain more slowly or earn less. Although my data is sparse enough that there may well be a bias, it tells me that it is not very large, because I'd spot that.

There is a shadow of a signal that FQs get lower bonuses, certainly they convey that idea to me, and this implies some degree of lower appreciation of their work.

Kids are an issue of course, and if someone leaves this line of work, I can't figure them into my model. I have to choose my words carefully here, but it can be made to work, if you want it to. Mrs. DCFC is a partner in a very large international law firm, earning money comparable to an IB quant, and so we have a nanny, and various other fixes available to those who earn relatively well. The wide variety of jobs means that a working mother has a respectable set of options. I accept there is an impact (DCFC 2.0 and 2.1 cost more than a new house in lost earnings), but when I see mothers in lower paid jobs outside banking they don't have so many choices and those options are often much less attractive. An FQ might go and work for a consultancy and gain better hours at the price of "only" earning 4 times what the average person does.

If you were asked to design a curriculum for MS program in Financial Engineering which core courses would you pick?

The core of most MFEs is the same, and I have no issue with that. The structural change I'd look at is more deep-specialist options. As the market tightens, it will be less useful to know the same general stuff as everyone else. That is a long term trend as well, as the size of this profession grows then you cannot hope to cover everything in adequate detail.
Thus I'd identify some niche like energy derivatives, risk management or government debt and build excellence all the way from trading through to cutting edge modeling and hedging. I'd split roughly 2/3 core competencies in time series, pricing, numerical methods, etc, and 1/3 making people stand out as first rate in that area. Done properly you can attract the top names to guest lecture and work with students, and of course banks wanting that particular skill will come shopping.

If you were asked to run an MFE program, what would you do to place your students for internships and jobs?

As a headhunter, I see the alumni as the most powerful resource for getting my students into firms. I would make sure that we kept contact with them, with things like continuing education, lunches, meetings in bars. Create a yearbook with a summary of the program and the CV of everyone who's looking for a job. Include a list of the subjects covered by students and the depth they did them to. Mail it to all alumni. None of this costs much.

I'd also have a short series of lectures specifically aimed at the skills relevant for getting a job. That's conditional probability, brain teasers, how to explain what you're good at, and CV design.
Also I'd encourage the alumni to work on the recruitment system. Headhunters are the first gatekeepers in the process, and try their best to find out what clients want. If they think Baruch students sell well, you will find yourself being put forward to more roles. It's also important to know that in this line of work you are interviewing people much earlier than elsewhere. This can actually be just a few weeks, and very probably you will interview a newbie within your first year. Thus there are Baruch alumni getting resumes from headhunters all the time. They just need to ask "why am I not getting many Baruch people ?". The HH will get the message, and if enough do that it will swing the consensus your way. I'm not saying Baruch alumni should give preferential treatment to own school in hiring decisions which is wrong on so many levels, just poke the information providers to see the picture better.
(Just don't tell the other HHs I told you to do this).

What do you know now that you wish you'd known 10 years ago?

That I could do this for a living, is certainly the first item. I'm lucky that I enjoy my job, enough that my 7 year old son has difficulty understanding that it is work.

Tell us something about yourself that we don't already know.

I've started writing a novel about Rogue Trading, based upon the realities we've seen, with various tales I get to hear as a headhunter.

The working title is "Fat Tails", maybe "Trade/Off" what do you think ?

What does the future hold for Dominic Connor?

I ought to do a careers talk at Baruch, and physically meet the people who read my posts on Quantnet.

See also
 

John

Well-Known Member
The interview process is very communications-intensive. As final hurdle, there's usually a lunch with your future potential colleagues.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
Alain and John are entirely right, how can you expect to get through an interview if you can't talk ?
Depending upon luck and wind direction you may be interviewed by 12 or even 20 people at Goldman Sachs.
That's the right hand side of the distribution, but between you and any job there's 3-10 people who have to think that you are more useful than the other candidates.

Whilst writing this I have to try more than ordinarily hard not to use the terms I get told by both hiring managers and teachers of quants. Quite politically correct people use very un-PC language over a glass of wine, some even harbour a strange idea that I can fix this.

Universities are unwilling to enforce the language requirements that nearly all have in their statutes, which I impresses me not one little bit.
A more understandable reluctance is not physically dragging students down to the bar, and making them pick up partners of a compatible sex. Improves one's language skills no end :)

A tougher, but achievable position is to require that students give presentations of their work, and if the class cannot understand you, then you fail.

And before you ask, yes I am hardening my heart to these people.

If you're not smart enough to work out for yourself that spoken English is important, exactly why should I recommend you to a bulge bracket bank ?

If you have some character flaw that makes you unable to cope with people who are different to you, then I question your employability in general and not just in banking.

I don't accept you can't learn English, you already have, I merely suggest you finish the job.
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
Which gets to one reason Americans avoid science and math - the expectation is that the payoff just isn't there. The field suffers from what one writer referred to as a "Status-Income Disequlibria" - math oriented fields are seen as "loser" fields despite their income and contribution to the economy. Also, many companies seem to regard engineering ability as somehow optional for their IT and engineering managers, meaning lots of business majors think they can skip the hard math courses and still boss around engineers who will, of course, earn less than them. And the fact that many people think India and China have infinite supplies of technically brilliant scientists and engineers does nothing to help the situation.

One big reason why Americans are opting to stay away from math, physics, engineering, and hard computing is the unrelenting offshoring of jobs. Even when the jobs do stay in the USA, preference is often given to foreigners who will accept pay and working conditions Americans would shrink away from. There's a plethora of anecdotal evidence for this as well as hard stats. For example, I think 20% of American programmers over the age of 50 are unemployed. Then employers have the effrontery to complain about "skill shortages"; what they really mean is a shortage of people skilled in the latest version of the latest package willing to work for starvation wages for 12 hours a day.

Other reasons include the low status afforded applied scientists and engineers in the US (unlike Germany, Japan, and China). And appallingly poor standards in American public schools. So Americans -- like Brits -- gravitate towards management, law, and accountancy.
 

Urszula

Member
What can be done to attract more women into quantitative finance field?

Show them the money.

Hm...Maybe the issue is not that women don't see the money but that they don't value the money as much as guys do. I may be an exception but if I were to join MFE program it would be from the love of knowledge and not rising my paycheck. I noticed that I don't think as aggresively about making money as most of my male friends do. Any thoughts FemaleQuant?
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
Alain and John are entirely right, how can you expect to get through an interview if you can't talk ?

Universities are unwilling to enforce the language requirements that nearly all have in their statutes, which I impresses me not one little bit.

If you have some character flaw that makes you unable to cope with people who are different to you, then I question your employability in general and not just in banking.

I don't accept you can't learn English, you already have, I merely suggest you finish the job.

Poor command of language is just the tip of the iceberg. Go to any US campus and you'll see Indian and Chinese students herding together -- and the same in the workplace. It's not just that they don't have command of the idiom; it's that they're acutely uncomfortable with Westerners and don't have any idea of the cultural code or cultural cues that drive social interaction in the US. And I'm not saying anything original here. The other phenomenon I've noticed is that these ethnic groups study together even when told work must be individual. That's why they often stumble at interview stage: they don't know anything. And the profs don't give a tinker's cuss. When hired, and if they have any say in subsequent hiring, they try to hire their own. Anecdotal evidence of this is hardly lacking.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
Maybe the issue is not that women don't see the money but that they don't value the money as much as guys do.

I think it's both to some extent.

I may be an exception but if I were to join MFE program it would be from the love of knowledge and not rising my paycheck.
That's not rare, but there are a lot cheaper things to learn about. I see an MFE as a professional qualification, not an academic one.

I noticed that I don't think as aggresively about making money as most of my male friends do.
That's pretty common too, but the diversity of objective is pretty wide.

In the Guide we talk about how poor money is as a motivation.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
Why not just offshore quant work to asian countries
This happens, less than you might think, but it's slowly growing.

The vast majority of Quant work is collaborative between traders, IT, risk, etc, so offshoring is a lot less attractive for many tasks, and certainly it's very hard todo the interesting stuff unless you are "in" the environment. Even being on the wrong floor of the banks can be a real hassle.

Also the collaboration requires shared language, and since a lot of that is phones, again we see the need for spoken English. The rest is email.

Remember also, that I'm a headhunter, I'm trying to tell people things that will help their career. Thus I share with you one obvious scenario:

Assume your English is poor, and you are working in an offshore quant operation.
Rotating you to the Western part of the bank is not going to easily happen.

To go up to a more senior level, you need to talk to a wider variety of people in the bank, so promotion will be slower, and may not happen at all.

A headhunter looking to fill a more attractive job in the west rings you. No useful communication takes place, so you stand little chance of getting the job.


and not complain about finding the right kind of talent who can work in a western environment?

I'm not complaining, I'm warning.
Ok, I'm complaining as well, but my job is to get you a job. If you make that harder, we both lose out.
 
Thanks for the interview, it was a very nice read!
I have one question for Dominic about the following passage:

" Although the strongest demand is for those with PhD level SP, good undergrad experience combined with the right maths can get you there. Typically an EE can't do more than about 25% of his degree in things relevant to SP, so self study is not impossible, but getting a job is then dependent upon your ability to project that to a prospective employer. "

I have nearly finished my undergraduate degree in EE and I will be embarking on a PhD next year. My area of research will be 'Target Tracking', which falls under the more general field of non-linear estimation (which itself is an area in control theory). It's all about statistical inference, Kalman filtering and what not. Am I right in believing that a lot of this will be directly applicable in quantitative finance once I am done with my PhD? Or would I be better off going into SignalProcessing (there is an opening for research in wavelets, singal reconstruction from sparse measurements, etc... if that means anything to you).

Many thanks.
 

alain

Older and Wiser
Quant work (at least on the money making side) will never be offshored because I don't want some dude from thousands miles away knowing what I'm doing. I need that person right by me, on my same "boat" so we sink together if the ship goes down.
 

Bridgett

Well-Known Member
Hm...Maybe the issue is not that women don't see the money but that they don't value the money as much as guys do. I may be an exception but if I were to join MFE program it would be from the love of knowledge and not rising my paycheck. I noticed that I don't think as aggresively about making money as most of my male friends do. Any thoughts FemaleQuant?

Urszula, I would have to agree with you on this.

I often hear guys saying (in a very aggresive tone), "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"; but I don't hear the same from women (at least not as much.)

Also...I'm quite sure that people have their individual metrics when it comes to making important decisions in life. While trying to figure out the gender patterns in different professions, we also have to remind ourselves that women often time make career sacrifice for their families -- my old boss's wife was in finance and ended her career to become a full-time mother. How many women do you know that have sacrified their career interests for their families? And how many of them were in finance before making the sacrifice? (Many related questions can also be thought out...)
 

Yan He

Well-Known Member
(Just something for fun for this slow rainy Friday afternoon)

Urszula:
"Hm...Maybe the issue is not that women don't see the money but that they don't value the money as much as guys do"

Well, I ever thought that I was cool, just want to do a job that I really enjoy, but not until I was laid off from Citigroup, and had to paid my rent and credit cards :) I don't hate money, I would like to see the figure on my paycheck raises. But a job I don't like to do can really retard me.

Bridgett:

Talking about sacrifice, I would rather say it's personal preference. Husbands might not be able to force their wives to be full-time housewives or quants nowadays :)

Ladies, I don't think it's worth to discuss that much about the gender in pursuing a study/career in MFE/Quant. Just pick whatever you enjoy to do.
Models won't collaps because you are female :))

(Maybe this is inappropriate post under this thread. Sorry)
 

Bridgett

Well-Known Member
Yan He,

If you understood what I wrote in my post above, you would have realized that I meant the same thing as your "persoanl preference". While stating out some fact, I had no intention to put men on "the dark side" at all, if I have to make myself clear. Also, if you read the entire thread before you post your judgment, you would also have realized that it was some gentleman who initiated this gender issue in the field of finance. I don't see why it could be inappropriate for Urszula and I to respond from a female standpoint.

(Just something for fun for this slow rainy Friday afternoon)

Urszula:
"Hm...Maybe the issue is not that women don't see the money but that they don't value the money as much as guys do"

Well, I ever thought that I was cool, just want to do a job that I really enjoy, but not until I was laid off from Citigroup, and had to paid my rent and credit cards :) I don't hate money, I would like to see the figure on my paycheck raises. But a job I don't like to do can really retard me.

Bridgett:

Talking about sacrifice, I would rather say it's personal preference. Husbands might not be able to force their wives to be full-time housewives or quants nowadays :)

Ladies, I don't think it's worth to discuss that much about the gender in pursuing a study/career in MFE/Quant. Just pick whatever you enjoy to do.
Models won't collaps because you are female :))

(Maybe this is inappropriate post under this thread. Sorry)
 

Yan He

Well-Known Member
Relax, Lady :)
No intension of offending, so...don't be that defensive.

The last sentence of my last post refers to my own post :) (sorry for misleading)
My point is: just do whatever you like, and do your own job as well as you can, not necessary to pinpoint the gender difference at work.

Have a relaxing weekend!
 

Urszula

Member
My point is: just do whatever you like, and do your own job as well as you can, not necessary to pinpoint the gender difference at work.

The issue exists whether you choose to ignore it or not. There are not many women in MFE. Personally it doesn't bother me. I responded to Dominick's post that the solution may not be as simple as "show them the money". There are many other factors involved.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
My area of research will be 'Target Tracking', which falls under the more general field of non-linear estimation (which itself is an area in control theory). It's all about statistical inference, Kalman filtering and what not. Am I right in believing that a lot of this will be directly applicable in quantitative finance once I am done with my PhD?

Yes, especially if you take the trouble to work on some real finance problems as well.
But be aware that you are betting on a speciality, a good one, but not a large one.

Or would I be better off going into SignalProcessing (there is an opening for research in wavelets, singal reconstruction from sparse measurements, etc... if that means anything to you).

Think I can cope :)
Wavelets are getting attention, and I think some reconstruction is an important component to have, but although I can cope with these subjects, I am not smart enough to call what will be good in 4/5 years when you hit the market.
Pick the stuff you like, and are better at than other people, and hope.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
I do take a little exception to the view that I only said "show them the money". I go on at some length about the diversity of jobs that use quant skills, and that needs to get that across, especially to girls making decisions about careers.
But...
As someone who conveys messages as part of his work, I see the need for headlines to grab people first, before I go into detail.

Kids get fed all sorts of nonsense about careers by vested interests pushing their subjects. Why in the name of god does anyone think French should be the core of any child's education ?

Finance can be tough, I've worked in and around banks for 20 years, I can trump any story you may have heard, much less experienced.
But...
Crap is present in all lines of work, sexist crap is far worse in the media than in banking, I did a stint in media, and still write a bit, and have seen stuff that would have bankrupted Goldman Sachs if it had happened there (and yes, I do know the stories). But girls sadly seem dead keen on media jobs.
 

nonoah

Member
regarding "FQ", I read this from Satyajit Das

I can't help but copy this story here...., and regarding getting more FQ, I say show them the man, men who are smart, diligent, capable, creative, and caring, particularly when it comes to models.

...."Go over, " he commanded. "Talk to her."

The quant sensed danger; this was not smart. The other traders now joined in, urging him to make a move. Left without choice, he pushed back his chair and began to walk in the general direction of the woman. The traders were taking bets on the result of the encounter: the betting favored the quant being slapped and told to "F*** off".

The quant make his way to the table. "Can I join you?" he asked. The woman scrutinized her suitor. He did not look like sexual deviant. She nodded.

The quant sat down, thinking of a way to start a conversation. He remembered they were modelers. "I 'm working on a new model that adapts the Black-Scholes framework to incorporate mean reversion in commodities," he blurted out. The woman looked at him strangely. " You know," she drawled. " I did my Ph.D on a similar problem. That 's before I realized that there 's more money in strutting up and down catwalks in your underwear." She smiled at the young man. " Where are you from?" The quant smiled back broadly. Models are sometimes full of surprises.
 

Andy Nguyen

Member
I can't agree more with wolf on the issue of students stay within their own ethnic group. I think it just hurts them in a lot of way. It happens at any place there is a large concentration of any ethnic group, be it school, work.
I don't know if this is an Asian thing or if it happens to any group. While it may make sense if you are new immigrants to this country and want to be surrounded by familiar people but not if you are an international student coming to this country to study and hopefully settle for a career here later. The faster you assimilate into American culture, the better for your future.

On the issue of lacking of female quants, the reason starts at much earlier stages. While several posts debate the merits why women look at quant career differently from men, we should look at why there are so few women interested in math, career in their junior, high school and college. We live in a society that glamorizes fashion, reality shows, singing career. Teenagers may see it uncool as being good in math. They rather model after Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Hanna Montana or whatever idol they have. I think Katie Hibner pointed this out in post #16.

So when we come to MFE or PhD level, there are so few women left to compete with men for admission into these programs. As a result, we see fewer women who graduate. I think women who enter this career track know what ahead of them. If not, they will exit very quickly.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
Well said Andy, that's the reason I say show them the money.
There's lots of poor role models out there, left wing racists like to send black sports men into schools as examples of what they might achieve.

I have occasionally considered using my position to do some social good in this way.

Most people in this forum have the expectation of being able to afford a Porsche, indeed that level of earnings is pretty common in finance. That's an achievable mildly mass market goal.

A goal achieved by working hard at school, and of course without the chemical abuse that's standard in sport.

I do not claim it will work for everyone, but it's the right message "work hard, get a Porsche".

Girls it's a bit more complex, but in the same way I knew I'd never run in the Olympics, most girls know they're not Britney.
Britney is an attractive role model to many girls because she is not an attribute of some man. It's very recent that there were any such women who a girl might identify with.

I do not think it coincidence that most women choose educational options that fit them more to be secretaries rather than principals.
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
I can't agree more with wolf on the issue of students stay within their own ethnic group. I think it just hurts them in a lot of way. It happens at any place there is a large concentration of any ethnic group, be it school, work.
I don't know if this is an Asian thing or if it happens to any group. While it may make sense if you are new immigrants to this country and want to be surrounded by familiar people but not if you are an international student coming to this country to study and hopefully settle for a career here later. The faster you assimilate into American culture, the better for your future.

It does hurt immigrant students but it's not easy for (first-generation) immigrants to assimilate because of alien cultural mores. Much easier for subsequent generations born in the US (or the UK). Indeed, if you look at the history of immigration to the USA, you'll see the same pattern of first-generation Swedes, Germans, Poles, Italians, and Jews staying with their own kind and in their own enclaves. It was their children who moved into the mainstream of American society.
 
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