Mid Career Transition Advice

Hi folks,

First time poster, long time reader. I'm dropping this into the Career Advice section but it could just as easily sit in Education advice, so happy to move it across if forum mods would suggest as much.

Bit of background on me – I’ve been a buy side PM (implementation, risk management, trading) for ~6 years having graduated from a top undergrad school in an unrelated non STEM subject. I’ve mostly focused on fundamental strategies with a quant leaning with institutional client base in my career to date. What this has left me with is a solid foundation in market microstructure (particularly in fixed income) and some good hands on experience.

I’m looking to move across into a more research-focused role (either hybrid implementation / research or pure research) and take a step away from the fundamental world ideally into the quant space.

Given my experience so far I’m a little cautious about the idea of resigning to pursue an MFE. I definitely recognize the value but I’m torn as to whether studying on the side (to pick up the numerical methods and related quant skills) would be sufficient to make this sort of transition rather than the MFE direction. I'm generally well respected at my firm, so have a decent amount of goodwill that I don't want to give up unnecessarily!

Curious to hear general thoughts on this question (which at its core I realize has been asked / answered a few times on these forums) and open to any suggestions for third party learning that can be pursued part time that would help me make this transition. I’m based on the west coast so Baruch part time (for example) wouldn’t work.

Thanks in advance!
 
idk wat ur thinking as ur in a very good situation... if u insists, try some part time online offerings but u might wana do some prereqs
 
idk wat ur thinking as ur in a very good situation... if u insists, try some part time online offerings but u might wana do some prereqs

The team I'm in doesn't manage long term strategies - it's all short term allocation restructuring type work (think a portfolio solutions focus). Would be nice to take the steps towards managing longer term alpha strats and I find quant strats more compelling than fundamental - that's the root of the thinking rather than some desperate desire to go back to school! :)

Any online offerings you might recommend? There's a lot out there that has the right label but not necessarily the substance (take CQF as an example - no idea whether it realistically goes sufficiently deep in any given area to warrant the cost / time)...
 
it depends on wat long term alpha strat u wana do... quant is vague and the skillsets can be quite different for different types of quant
 
Good point - firstly looking to stay on the buy side and most likely factor / macro FI strategies (rather than the more derivative-heavy pricing strategies), so more stats than FDM
 
1. What's your foundation?
For MFE, you'd want 3 levels of calculus, 1-2 Linear Algebra, 1-2 Calculus based probability, and differential equations as a bare min for math. For coding, ideally python at the level of build your own stuff with ease, C++ will help make you stronger, but mainly used in high frequency applications. I did several years of night classes at a local university - to @IntoDarkness ' point, these can be beneficial in and of themselves.

2. What's your motivation?
If you have goodwill and a solid career track in your current gig, do you need the paper to transfer? The degree is worth it from my point of view to ensure you can transfer (in addition to the knowledge you get). However, I know some brilliant folks who have absolutely pwned coursera / edX, etc and come out with very solid skills.

3. Have you seen "The Interns" with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn?
This movie has come up in every school / internship interview. If the interviewer didn't raise it, I did to break the ice a bit. As mid-career, if you go full time, you'll face the awkwardness of the summer internship. I knew I'd be taking a pay cut (short term) to transition, but it's not clear employers know that I know that, and they might just think I'm oblivious. Which is possible. ..

4. Potential Approach
Assuming you have or are close to the math / coding pre-reqs, would your employer sponsor you? That would be the ideal approach from my point of view. Plenty of excellent programs on the west coast. Well, 2 that I know of, but they are really good.
 
1. What's your foundation?
For MFE, you'd want 3 levels of calculus, 1-2 Linear Algebra, 1-2 Calculus based probability, and differential equations as a bare min for math. For coding, ideally python at the level of build your own stuff with ease, C++ will help make you stronger, but mainly used in high frequency applications. I did several years of night classes at a local university - to @IntoDarkness ' point, these can be beneficial in and of themselves.

2. What's your motivation?
If you have goodwill and a solid career track in your current gig, do you need the paper to transfer? The degree is worth it from my point of view to ensure you can transfer (in addition to the knowledge you get). However, I know some brilliant folks who have absolutely pwned coursera / edX, etc and come out with very solid skills.

3. Have you seen "The Interns" with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn?
This movie has come up in every school / internship interview. If the interviewer didn't raise it, I did to break the ice a bit. As mid-career, if you go full time, you'll face the awkwardness of the summer internship. I knew I'd be taking a pay cut (short term) to transition, but it's not clear employers know that I know that, and they might just think I'm oblivious. Which is possible. ..

4. Potential Approach
Assuming you have or are close to the math / coding pre-reqs, would your employer sponsor you? That would be the ideal approach from my point of view. Plenty of excellent programs on the west coast. Well, 2 that I know of, but they are really good.

Thanks to you both. Onegin, responses follow:

1) foundation is approximately the right level to meet pre-program requirements for most MFEs (using UCB and Baruch as the model). Mostly via coursera / other online courses rather than degree accreditation.
2) I'm not sure I need the paper to transfer - my concern is that at the VP level it may just be required (as a sort of barrier to entry)
3) Would you say this is more relevant if exiting rather than moving internally? I know at my company, base salaries are pretty low with a good amount forming part of the bonus so while the base wouldn't necessarily change, they could easily cut my bonus on a move to account for the lack of experience. Do you think I'd need to be explicit about communicating this?
4) Employer wouldn't sponsor - I'm assuming the programs you're referencing are UCB and UCLA / Stanford? Or are there others that you could suggest that may have part time options?

Thanks again!
 
Johns Hopkins has an online MFE program that most people take part time while working. The biggest drawback to the program is zero career placement which doesn’t apply to you since you like your current company.
 
Good point - firstly looking to s
Hi folks,

First time poster, long time reader. I'm dropping this into the Career Advice section but it could just as easily sit in Education advice, so happy to move it across if forum mods would suggest as much.

Bit of background on me – I’ve been a buy side PM (implementation, risk management, trading) for ~6 years having graduated from a top undergrad school in an unrelated non STEM subject. I’ve mostly focused on fundamental strategies with a quant leaning with institutional client base in my career to date. What this has left me with is a solid foundation in market microstructure (particularly in fixed income) and some good hands on experience.

I’m looking to move across into a more research-focused role (either hybrid implementation / research or pure research) and take a step away from the fundamental world ideally into the quant space.

Given my experience so far I’m a little cautious about the idea of resigning to pursue an MFE. I definitely recognize the value but I’m torn as to whether studying on the side (to pick up the numerical methods and related quant skills) would be sufficient to make this sort of transition rather than the MFE direction. I'm generally well respected at my firm, so have a decent amount of goodwill that I don't want to give up unnecessarily!

Curious to hear general thoughts on this question (which at its core I realize has been asked / answered a few times on these forums) and open to any suggestions for third party learning that can be pursued part time that would help me make this transition. I’m based on the west coast so Baruch part time (for example) wouldn’t work.

Thanks in advance!

Couldnt you move internally in your firm? It is much easier to study part-time and assess the program, I mean you might not even enjoy it at all so why leave it all behind?

Are you in NYC or major hub, think just network in general with recruiters and if possible check the sell side openings as well as they are usually more jobs there.
 
I'm neutral on CQF, since I never really looked into it. More knowledge is better than less knowledge, and get it wherever you can. The credentials only matter during resume review - you have to prove your knowledge daily.

1) foundation is approximately the right level to meet pre-program requirements for most MFEs (using UCB and Baruch as the model). Mostly via coursera / other online courses rather than degree accreditation. Some programs will want university accredited courses, since they've had issues with people failing out. Among top tier, NYUs, Cornell seemed to be more open to this for mid-career folks, other schools less-so. Second tier schools are more accepting, and there are some solid programs at that level. fwiw, I'm glad I went back to get the accredited courses, since I didn't know as much as I thought I did.

2) I'm not sure I need the paper to transfer - my concern is that at the VP level it may just be required (as a sort of barrier to entry)

Depends on the organization - the longer it's been around, the more likely the heirarchy is rigid. An earlier stage or smaller company would be more open to folks who can just get shit done. However, once they transition to larger / later stage, you'll run into the same problem. Regarding "barriers to entry", I think if you are useful people will know it. The "optics" part is a bear. I hear "you need a PhD to do x,y,z". And yes, clients in quant space generally prefer working with folks who have a PhD. But at the end of the day, people need competence. The degrees are a signal of that. This question is a lot like #1 - can I get into school w/ Coursera? I mean, maybe, but no one is actually sure if you know what you need to know. Same thing w/ grad degree. . .

3) Would you say this is more relevant if exiting rather than moving internally?

Not from my perspective; I've found it difficult to keep ownership over my work sometimes when I built stuff people didn't expect someone at my function / education level to be able to do. nothing malevolent, the idea just seemed so obvious after I had figured it out. More importantly though, I'm gaining the capabilities at school that will improve my chances of success with an internal move. I think had I been moved internally to a more quant role, i would have flamed out pretty quickly prior to school. It seems a goal of just moving internally is a misspecification of the goal; you also want to succeed in that new role, and I don't think we should take that as a given. The knowledge base is immense, and pluck and grit might not be enough.

I know at my company, base salaries are pretty low with a good amount forming part of the bonus so while the base wouldn't necessarily change, they could easily cut my bonus on a move to account for the lack of experience. Do you think I'd need to be explicit about communicating this?
I don't think you need to be explicit about the fact that you're looking at a lower bonus; you almost certainly are. You're moving from something you do well, you have a good reputation in to something new that you are not very good at. They can hire someone else for cheaper who is better than you. It's not obvious to me why they should continue to pay you at the same bonus level. Your expectation to maintain consistent income could prove a barrier. You can argue that, from a company perspective, they should care and . . . I can't even type the end of that sentence. The industry is undergoing massive change. Cuts are happening at a lot of quant firms. Do you want to be the guy producing the least making the most on a research team? I know this is harsh, but I'm in the same boat. Top of the middle office makes more than bottom of the research group; but an analyst / PM 3-5 years in is back at that level and I like my chances.

4) Employer wouldn't sponsor - I'm assuming the programs you're referencing are UCB and UCLA / Stanford? Or are there others that you could suggest that may have part time options?

No clue here, sorry. NYC has some solid part time options, but that's about it.
 
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