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Please provide advice for a prospective quant

I'm almost certainly a significant amount younger than everyone on this thread, as I'm going into my senior year in high school in the United States. I'm also fully aware that many of you will not take me seriously because of that, that's okay. I'm asking for some of the more experienced people here to provide me some insight on whether or not I should pursue a career as a "quant" and what educational steps I should take in order to get there. I've read the article pertaining to MFE programs, which undergrad majors are suited for becoming a quant,Andy's reading list, and the career guides for becoming a quant analyst/developer/traer, but I think my situation is unique. I'm not new to the forum, I've been lurking for around 6 months and have read a few books and countless forum posts and articles that have confirmed my interest in quantitative finance in general (namely Reflections on Physics and Finance and How I Became a Quant) but am unsure if I want to be a traditional quant. I identify most with Andrew Davidson of How I Became a Quant, if that explains my outlook at all.

I possess a strong affinity for mathematics, economics, and finance, which has basically influenced my choice to be on the "quanty" side of finance but I don't like the idea of a traditional quant, stuck in a corner modeling various complex derivatives options. Rather, I would like to become a hybrid of a "quant" and a "qual" if you will. Although I do enjoy math, it's not what I love most and I don't know if I want to spend my entire career doing stochastic calculus and differential equations. My true love is for economics and understanding financial markets. Basically, I'm looking for something that's approximately 60/40 or 50/50 qual/quant ratio. My end game is to bring higher level mathematical decisions to the top level of wherever I am working, not in the back office. Something of a hybrid of traditional investment banking, trading, or private equity, but on a higher level on financial engineering. It is for this reason that I believe I would eventually like to work in a hedge fund, but I know that's an extremely lofty goal at this point.

Also, if some of you could provide some undergraduate education advice I would love to pick your brain about how to best explore my options and prepare myself for a potential career in quantitative finance. As of now I'm largely considering attending the University of Chicago to major in Economics with a potential double major or minor in Molecular Engineering. I know econ is not considered a good pre-requisite for quant finance, but Chicago's econ program is wold renowned and undergrads have the option to pursue a math intensive route. Furthermore, I would have the opportunity to take classes at Booth, and possibly some classes in their department of Financial Mathematics. My alternatives are Wharton for finance (probably not enough math but still a good opportunity nonetheless), Columbia for their OR:FE program, and Carnegie Mellon for their BSCF program. If you're here to comment on how these schools are difficult to get into, I'm more than aware of that and I understand what kind of intelligence/blind luck/application strength it takes to get accepted so I'd appreciate if only constructive criticism was offered.

Also, due to the fact that I'm still in high school, it's been difficult to try and find textbooks/books that are at the finance and math level that I can understand, seeing as most of the material is marketed to professionals and grad students. I'd appreciate if you could recommend books/textbooks that I could use for self study (already using Stewart's Calculus for Calc I-III + Linear Algebra and The Wall Street MBA for basic finance knowledge) that are at a introductory level. The reason I ask is that I really want to explore finance and quant finance myself before I make the decision to pursue this path for sure.

Post Note: If anyone can provide detailed education/career advice I'd love to correspond via email or PM. Secondly, if anyone has any ideas for unique extracurriculars related to quant finance that are appropriate for a high school senior I would be highly interested as well.
 
Do well whatever you are going to do and you'll be fine.

Probably the most ambitious 17 year old ever.

@Dylan Brown - your resume is probably more impressive than most university graduates ( at least the non mathematical folk) - so you'll most likely get accepted to any school. In terms of undergrad, best major is mathematics, especially if you want to do more finance courses. I have an engineering degree in: Mathematical Engineering. There was no opportunity for me to take any finance courses: all courses were decided for me.
 
If you're here to comment on how these schools are difficult to get into, I'm more than aware of that and I understand what kind of intelligence/blind luck/application strength it takes to get accepted so I'd appreciate if only constructive criticism was offered.

Not true. It's not blind luck. It's called effort, and realizing that hard work pays off.
 
Probably the most ambitious 17 year old ever.

@Dylan Brown - your resume is probably more impressive than most university graduates ( at least the non mathematical folk) - so you'll most likely get accepted to any school. In terms of undergrad, best major is mathematics, especially if you want to do more finance courses. I have an engineering degree in: Mathematical Engineering. There was no opportunity for me to take any finance courses: all courses were decided for me.

The only reason I'm not considering pure math as an undgrad major is the same reason I'm not doing physics or any other hard science. I feel that I would get pigeonholed and I know more than enough physics/math majors (two at my high school in fact, one from MIT and one from Berkeley) that wound up as high school teachers because the skills aren't that employable outside of quant finance, should I ever decide to change my mind later on. I like Chicago's econ program because I'm offered the opportunity to take all the math I'll need (Calc I-III, LA, Stat, PDE, Real analysis I + II, etc.) along with upper level finance related econ classes.

Learn how to code. Learn statistics and preferably machine learning. Learn networking and social skills. Everything else is domain specific knowledge.

Thanks for the advice about statistics and machine learning. I've read about machine learning before, but haven't really explored it too much; I'll definitely check it out. The one advantage I feel that I might have over others in the quant field are my social skills, so hopefully that will keep me out of a back-office role.

How about Compsci and math? You can't go wrong there.

For a long time I was actually considering doing exactly what you suggested, but I feel that I could get the same value by minoring in CompSci or taking electives on the side. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like many of the CompSci classes would be ultimately somewhat irrelevant in quant finance if I learn MATLAB, C++, R, machine learning, etc. on the side.
 
I'm asking for some of the more experienced people here to provide me some insight on whether or not I should pursue a career as a "quant"...I feel that I would get pigeonholed [with a math major focusing on getting into MSFE]... because the skills aren't that employable outside of quant finance...Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like many of the CompSci classes would be ultimately somewhat irrelevant in quant finance if I learn MATLAB, C++, R, machine learning, etc. on the side.

I don't understand. Do you want to be pigeonholed into quant finance or not? The best way to keep options open, prepare for MSFE, while feathering your nest with an option of immediate, high-paying employment other than quant finance after college, is to major in compsci/math.

I'll second what tfors said: "Do well whatever you are going to do and you'll be fine."
 
Learn how to code. Learn statistics and preferably machine learning. Learn networking and social skills. Everything else is domain specific knowledge.

I'll expand on this a bit. I think people get confused by what is often referred to as soft skills, social skills, etc.

Nobody is saying you have to be a likeable person. That goes very far but there are certainly countless unlikeable people on Wall St. Generally the very successful ones are skilled at communication however. Their technical skills are often not the best in class but they know how to identify what's important to business and present content accordingly. This is a much more important skill than people realize.
 

Yike Lu

Finder of biased coins.
For a long time I was actually considering doing exactly what you suggested, but I feel that I could get the same value by minoring in CompSci or taking electives on the side. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like many of the CompSci classes would be ultimately somewhat irrelevant in quant finance if I learn MATLAB, C++, R, machine learning, etc. on the side.
There are certain things in CS that make you a better coder but have very little direct application. OS, compilers, functional programming each have limited direct day to day application -- unlikely you'll need to write an OS, a compiler, or to use Haskell -- but make you a better coder via the concepts and ways of thinking they teach.

The hazard to not doing a full CS major is skipping these things in favor of direct application. You can certainly get away with it, so long as you know what you're missing and take steps to address it.
 
I'm a sophomore at Babson College and study computational and mathematical finance. It's not a top-notch school or incredibly hard to get in but one of the very few that offers undergraduate degrees for quantitative finance. If you look at my curriculum, most of the courses I'll be taking through out four years are basically math, econ, finance and computer science. Finance and econ provide you with the intuition, and math/CS with the indispensable tool to make it in the quant world, so I think it's a good combination. A lot of people are saying u gotta do math/CS/physics etc in undergraduate to be able to do those technical jobs. It's absolutely true since quant is very quantitatively demanding. However, let's not forget what a major means. Say you do physics in undergrad, I seriously doubt your courses or academic training will be in any way relevant to finance, let alone econ. At the end of the day, you might be able to handle those finance models and programming stuff but you didn't get to appreciate those fascinating finance theories and strategies or get to understand the intuition behind how the macro econ world works. I say it's a huge bummer and this is why I don't like many people suggesting someone who's more interested in finance and quant only take an undergrad math or physics degree. But, for those who simply aim at the somewhat high paycheck as a quant, I certainly wouldn't stop you from being a physics phd and will try not to laugh out loud when u say physics is your life passion while u actually want to be a quant at your phd interview.

Anyway, most of what I said is just sorta a response to the general trend in the quant world regarding majors and I believe @Dylan Brown u 're not someone who just wanted to possess some technical skills for some quick cash in a short career. So, I'd say no matter what u study, make sure you're able to take or learn finance, econ(mostly macro side), math and some CS. In another sense, what college u're in or what major u do shouldn't stop u from being a good quant. What they look for in a good quant is all the same.(quantitative methods, communication, econ intuitions and even leadership)

Last but not least, always be the top 1% at whatever u do and you'll be perfectly fine. Good luck!
 
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