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Is getting a PhD in particle physics the best way to get into a hedge fund?

Compared to computer science, mathematics PhD, is pursuing a physics PhD the best?

What about economics, or finance PhDs or even MFEs?
Which way would be the best road to take, if you're dream is to work in FO at a hedge fund?
 

Joy Pathak

Swaptionz
Financial firms hired people with Physics and Math PhD's because they were the ones who had the strong math backgrounds. They did not hire them because they were Theoretical Phycisits, but because they knew that theoretical phycists can handle the math. If there were PhD's from MIT who had PhD in Financial Engineering they would pick them.

Now that financial engineering is turning into a mainstream field, there are many universities where you can do a specialization in FE while doing a PhD in Math/Stats/OR/Eng etc. It makes absolutely no sense to get a PhD in physics if you know you want to work for a financial firm.

Also another reason many Math/physics PhD's are in finance is because there are no math/physics PhD jobs to support the number of graduates. You will rarely find PhD's in Finance working in the industry. There are less graduates than faculty positions for PhD in Finance/accounting.
 
"Then you should study how to raise a few hundred million dollars, have enough wealthy friends who want to give you money. Do we have any PhD for it?"

touche

Can anyone tell me how to insert quotes in a box?
 

Yike Lu

Finder of biased coins.
If you actually like Particle Physics and are willing to do it for 5 years by all means... you will likely be in high demand after graduating.

If on the other hand you don't... why would you do that to yourself just to get into quant finance? There are far better ways these days.
 
D

Deleted member 2387

Be mindful of WHERE you get your physics/math PhD as well. There is an undeniable nepotism and 'brand' preference when it comes to admissions and HR resume bots. If your school name was not featured in a movie, dont bother.
 
Be mindful of WHERE you get your physics/math PhD as well. There is an undeniable nepotism and 'brand' preference when it comes to admissions and HR resume bots. If your school name was not featured in a movie, dont bother.

I mean professional side. Background in physics is a solid asset to be efficient in quantitative finance. I don't care what recruiters think in this case. They sometimes reject people on the ground of irrelevant characteristics which they don't understand at all. If I were a recruiter, I'd have a good priorities set for people from different background taking into consideration the working (both - job responsibilities and academic) experience of an employee rather than the color of the school they came from.
 
D

Deleted member 2387

I mean professional side. Background in physics is a solid asset to be efficient in quantitative finance. I don't care what recruiters think in this case. They sometimes reject people on the ground of irrelevant characteristics which they don't understand at all. If I were a recruiter, I'd have a good priorities set for people from different background taking into consideration the working (both - job responsibilities and academic) experience of an employee rather than the color of the school they came from.

That's all well and noble of you, but when schools have ~ 10^3 applications, plus firms with underpaid +/- overworked HR folks, what is going to inevitably happen, is people will hit the 'DUHHH' button and fall back to the loudest advertisement in the pile. And I DO mean the professional side as well. More so than the academic scene. But if the academic scene is to prep you for the professional one and is test run for the latter, then schools have already started mimicking the myopic view of HR.
 
That's all well and noble of you, but when schools have ~ 10^3 applications, plus firms with underpaid +/- overworked HR folks, what is going to inevitably happen, is people will hit the 'DUHHH' button and fall back to the loudest advertisement in the pile. And I DO mean the professional side as well. More so than the academic scene. But if the academic scene is to prep you for the professional one and is test run for the latter, then schools have already started mimicking the myopic view of HR.

I don't justify the way they view potential employees. I agree with your opinion but I'm not saying anything controversial. Academic life does prepare you for work but the programs must be fitted more generously (could be tough though) within the requirement of the specific jobs not the "employers' opinions". Physics is the science which I see as one of the most suitable for quantitative field. I state again: there are much more connection between physics and finance (and is hard to discover) than some other closely related fields. But this connection is sometimes hard to see. Like thermodynamics, stochastic processes, heat theories (used for option pricing), rocket science (Merton), etc. I moved off the topic I think but still, priorities are not based on fair rules.
 
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Deleted member 2387

There we go. Im glad you have crystallized your view. As a physicist, I am obliged to present a state of affairs to you.

I can posit a theory here. You are right that physics tends to impart the best tools to become a quant. But this preparation is useful only when you are actually working in a job or on coursework in QF. What physics will patently NOT do is prep you to enter or exit such an assignment. My impression is that recruiters discovered physicists in the late 70s and caught a 'lucky' break. But as the demand and supply have reached steady state in the 2000s, and more and more applications pour in, they have no reasonable or logical way of testing an physics applicant. Rather than have some innovative vision to track down talent, they cling to antiquated metrics like the GRE, time logged in brand-name houses like the Ivies or big banks, how well can you juggle pointers and standard libraries in C++ while tapdancing naked on a tightrope atop a skyscraper. The programs admitting students are playing it super-safe too. What is the point of admitting candidates already well versed in the curriculum. Isn't that the point of going to school? To learn something you DONT know? But I suppose it helps massage and pamper placement statistics reinforcing the endless feedback loop of nepotism.

I feel Im on the verge of totally disillusioning you, but if you aren't truly passionate about High Energy Physics (the acceptable name for the colloquial 'particle physics'), that must be the only reason you pursue it. If you want to enjoy physics but with the ultimate intention of leading a lucrative life as a quant afterwards, I suggest you pick a subfield that relies a lot more on computation these days. Computational Relativity and Astrophysics come to mind, as does Quantum Computing. There are large data sets, loads of different analysis techniques and enough programming and calculus to kill a small elephant. All of these will expose you to fantastic notions of science and you will pick up valuable skills to be an effective quant. While astrophysics will probably not get you a job off the bat, anything computational still has tons of job exit strategies. Not to mention, Condensed Matter, Laser and Semiconductor physics is booming right now. Graphene is about to hit the big time and people are ready to fund the panties off it. The more experimental the better. It's important to be able to have a filler tech job in case you are caught in no-mans land before your first quant gig (school OR job). While you are in grad school, you can learn high energy physics from the best of the best (I say this because only the best in High Energy find tenure). But you will have a sensible roadmap. By the time you are done, you will have satisfied your curiosity of being at the pinnacle of human science and have a ton of places seeking you out as a physicist, if not a quant.
 
Financial firms hired people with Physics and Math PhD's because they were the ones who had the strong math backgrounds. They did not hire them because they were Theoretical Phycisits, but because they knew that theoretical phycists can handle the math. If there were PhD's from MIT who had PhD in Financial Engineering they would pick them.

This needs to be elaborated a bit. They hired them only partly because of their math knowledge. They aso hired them because of the kind of math they knew, the way that they knew it (in a heuristic and rough-and-ready fashion rather than rigororous or -- even worse -- axiomatic way), because they could use the math to create ad-hoc and provisional math models, and because they could code the models and use the models with data sets. That's why the choice between a physicist and a pure mathematician (who may have studied PDEs and stochastic processes rigorously) is a no-brainer: any astute financial employer will plump for the former.
 
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