• C++ Programming for Financial Engineering
    Highly recommended by thousands of MFE students. Covers essential C++ topics with applications to financial engineering. Learn more Join!
    Python for Finance with Intro to Data Science
    Gain practical understanding of Python to read, understand, and write professional Python code for your first day on the job. Learn more Join!
    An Intuition-Based Options Primer for FE
    Ideal for entry level positions interviews and graduate studies, specializing in options trading arbitrage and options valuation models. Learn more Join!

Q/A with Todd Fahey (Quant Headhunter)

Q/A with Todd Fahley

Hi Todd,
I recently joined this forum and will be graduating with an MS in Quantitative Finance in Spring 2008. I have a Bachelors and Masters in Chemical Engineering as well as a Professional Engineering registeration in Texas.

I have several years of engineering experience behins me and was wondering if age is a factor in landing a quant position ?

Thanks
 

Todd Fahey

Quant Recruiter
Legally, age cannot be deciding factor in a hiring decision. Does it happen? I can't say for certain. Personally, I could care less about a candidate's age. My only concern is that the candidate is well qualified and suited for the appropriate role. Hope this helps.
 

Todd Fahey

Quant Recruiter
I am in NY this week. Please call me next Monday morning to arrange a meeting for us next week sometime. Thanks.
 
Hello Todd,

May I know whether companies in Singapore are receptive to a MFE graduate from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) when it comes to hiring, in general?

I have read on some forum that IIT accepts everyone who applies for the MFE program (I do not know whether that is true).
 
Hello Todd,

Thanks again for all the answers. They've been helpful. I just had a few more quick questions.

I recall one of your responses being that individuals are much better off going to the 'name brand' schools than other schools like IIT, depaul etc. I concur with that definitely and I know thats just the way it is. I am currently a student at IIT and I will be graduating in december. What kind of advice would you give those students in order to get their names and resumes out there?
Secondly, since you are within the Chicago area and you also stated that these schools will have more prominence in the chicago area, how should these students begin their job search in the Chicago area? (Sorry if the first two questions are similar and any response is greatly appreciated.)
Third, if one is currently interning with a company that has a quant group. I am currently interning in a CDO modeling group but I am interested in getting into a quant group within my company. What means can they internally go about doing this or should they use all avenues including HH to try and get into this quant group as it is extremely competitive.

Thanks in advance for your responses.

Ayo
 

Yang_Pop

Tina.Yang
Hi, Todd:

Thank you for providing us with so much information, and Dmytro is right about the questions coming like a flood;)
I'm going to take the mathematical financial program in University of Toronto this fall, focused on risk I planand currently. I was wondering how would the brand of some top canadian universities work in wall street?
After working in Bay for sometime, I'll try to move into WS. Would this be hard or even harder then the graduates or junior workers with some experience in US?
 

Todd Fahey

Quant Recruiter
Hi Yang.

After a long hiatus from this site, Andy has persuaded me back into the fold.

In terms of 'branding', I am of the belief that the top schools anywhere - Canada, Russia, India, etc. - are relatively common knowledge and on the scope of most headhunters at this point. Toronto is a good school and has a couple of folks that are relatively well known in the field (off the top of my head, Peter Carr and John Hull).

I can't answer your question with regard to your competitiveness as I know nothing about you nor your experience. Depending upon your work experience, your grades, your level of seniority, your compensation level and a host of other issues you could fall anywhere in the spectrum - but I can't hazard a guess without more information.

Todd Fahey
Executive Director, Global Head - Quantitative Strategies Practice
Sheffield Haworth, inc.
fahey@sheffieldhaworth.com
312 283 8355 W
312 385 0344 C
 
Hi Todd,

Thanks for all the information.

At the beginning of this thread 5 years ago, you mentioned "all of my clients are still hiring in the junior to mid-level experience bands." And you "have not seen any particular product area that is closing its hiring due to market conditions."

So, how about now? I wonder are you still optimistic about career opportunities of quantitative finance.
 

Todd Fahey

Quant Recruiter
My overall view on quantitative finance remains the same - solid growth opportunities over the long-term. Electronic markets continue to evolve globally. As such, the quantitative finance area of capital amrkets, coupled with the appropriate technology and risk management systems, will continue to be in need of smart, trained professionals.

That said, the markets have virtually no appetite for exotic or structured instruments at the moment. Systemic, global risk is still the dominant 'feel' and has undercut confidence in many derivatives and macro themes - in particular, as they relate to the Eurozone and its numerous stresses. While much of what quants deal with day-to-day is micro-economic in nature, you cannot gloss over the macro pressures and their drastic and painful impact that we are facing today. I anticipate that this will be a long and arduous road to recovery - and, at risk of sounding incredibly pessimistic - and I'm not sure that this will be 'fixable'. The only thing I am relatively certain of is that finance has a great equalizing effect and that there will be companies / people that will continue to find a way to make money throughout the strife.
 
To add to what Todd already said, Dodd-Frank will be a force shaping the job market.
"the securities industry has stayed buoyant in part because high-paid investment bankers and traders are only part of the financial-workforce equation. While those high fliers are being let go—for example, Bank of America is sacking thousands of investment-banking employees—banks and other Wall Street institutions are hiring others to prepare for the effects of the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon recently told Congress his bank is spending $1 billion more on compliance costs annually because of Dodd-Frank.

"There's been tons of movement into the whole risk/compliance/regulatory space," said Dawn Fay, New York and New Jersey district president for Robert Half International. "With MF Global [going bankrupt] and [multibillion-dollar trading losses at] JPMorgan, organizations need to hire people and get their arms around the risk side of things."
http://www.workforce.com/article/20120626/NEWS01/120629982/wall-st-jobs-grow-defying-forecasts
 
Dear Todd,
I'd like to thank you for your time and effort that you spend answering peoples questions as it's not often that we get to ask a recruiters what we need to know, and your perspective is very much appreciated.

I would like to know the following:

1: As a recruiter have you referred candidates to clients with a Masters in Financial Mathematics, but have no experience, such as a junior Quant role? (please elaborate on the likelyhood of a graduate getting their foot in the door)

2: Which Masters do you recommend is the most advantageous in a Quant position? (or any other qualification)
MSc Financial Mathematics
MSc Computational Finance
MSc Financial Engineering
Because some of these qualifications are more mathematically in depth than some, and some have more programming than the others,
Jackie Chan once said " I want to be an actor who can fight, not a fighter who can act"
so a Mathematician who can programme or a programmer who can do maths?
(main difference is that the qualification you get is focused on one of the above)

3: What is the demand and the supply of Quant positions like?
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/how-likely-to-obtain-a-quant-position-at-a-ib-or-hf
I posted there as JamDoughnuts.

I look forward to your reply.

From Jamie
 
I just want to note that Todd has been very kind to contribute a terrific article for our upcoming 2012-2013 QuantNet Guide.
His article answers most of your questions and more such as the type of position in demand, the type of degree you need, the type of math, programming language you need to know, etc.
You may want to look for the release of our Guide in Sept.
 
Surely the targeted audience that would benefit from it by being published earlier, by September the academic year has started and peoples money would've been spent on perhaps a bad masters program. So will it be feasible for an early publication at all?
 

Todd Fahey

Quant Recruiter
Dear Todd,
I'd like to thank you for your time and effort that you spend answering peoples questions as it's not often that we get to ask a recruiters what we need to know, and your perspective is very much appreciated.

I would like to know the following:

1: As a recruiter have you referred candidates to clients with a Masters in Financial Mathematics, but have no experience, such as a junior Quant role? (please elaborate on the likelyhood of a graduate getting their foot in the door)

2: Which Masters do you recommend is the most advantageous in a Quant position? (or any other qualification)
MSc Financial Mathematics
MSc Computational Finance
MSc Financial Engineering
Because some of these qualifications are more mathematically in depth than some, and some have more programming than the others,
Jackie Chan once said " I want to be an actor who can fight, not a fighter who can act"
so a Mathematician who can programme or a programmer who can do maths?
(main difference is that the qualification you get is focused on one of the above)

3: What is the demand and the supply of Quant positions like?
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/how-likely-to-obtain-a-quant-position-at-a-ib-or-hf
I posted there as JamDoughnuts.

I look forward to your reply.

From Jamie


Sorry for the late reply. Been a bit busy of late. Here you go:

1. As a recruiter, the likelihood of my being able to help a 'fresh' MFM, MFE or MCF is a very low delta. Our clients pay us to find experienced candidates in the fields where they need help. They don't look to us to find someone who 'wants' to do that work. That said, if someone had 5 years of experience as a software engineer (preferably in some aspect of finance / capital markets) prior to urpsuing that degree, I would be happy to have a conversation. The overall answer to your question, though is - yes, you can get a job (subject to the rigors of Wall Street interviews and assuming you're good enough) - it is just more than likely it won't be through a recruiter.

2. I have always been - and will always be - a proponent of heavy programming-oriented backgrounds. It is a necessity for the line of work you are pursuing, as well as the fact that it gives you many options outside of finance should you have difficulty finding a job (or the economy is terrible, or there is no growth in finance and any of the other myriad crap that is going on right now). As I've said for many years: if you're not a really good programmer, do what you have to do to become one.

3. You're asking a question that is completely fluid at this time. Wall Street, historically, will hire the best-of-the-best that they can at any time. Even if they're laying off from the same groups. That said, in order for that to occur, you need to be able to walk on water with holes in your feet. It is the worst hiring market I've seen since post 9/11 and I don't anticipate that to change until after the presidential elections in the US. In Europe and Asia, I'm sorry to say, it's even going to be worse due to Euro and political risks. Headcount growth is virtually non-existent and the places we are seeing hires being made is either replacement or opportunistic. Sorry for the bad tidings.
 

Todd Fahey

Quant Recruiter
Hi Todd, I am working in Investment banking field having 7 years of experince. Could you please me to get some quant project.

I would need to review your cv / resume before making any judgment.
 
I am very excited to see this post come to surface again.

I have heard that networking and meeting people in quantitative finance is one of the best ways to secure interviews, but what can I do if I do not live near one of the major financial centers. I am entering my third year as a Ph.D. student at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. While Atlanta is a large city with many banks, many of their investment banking units are not located here.

I have two questions related to this. First, how do you recommend I make contact with people in the field? Are cold calls for informational interviews worthwhile? Second, I am looking for opportunities for research projects. I would like to approach someone working in quantitative finance to pickup a project so that I can get some hands on experience. Do you have any recommendations for making such an approach, given many potential contacts would be outside the Atlanta area?
 
Hi Todd,
Thank you very much for all your insights. I like how it is often harsh but true. Anyway, I have a few questions I'd like to ask you as well.

1. I'm graduating from master program next year and will hope to apply my quantitative skills in researching/investigating/testing trading ideas. (I believe this is called the quant analyst/quant research, am I correct?) I don't want to develop software. Are there still hedge funds or prop shops out there looking for entry level candidates like me in these roles?

2. I understand that C/C++ is very important. However, since I'm not looking into software development, I think R or Matlab will suffice for my desired role. I want to know how important C/C++ is for quant research in the perspective of employers? This will help me decide on how to plan my course selection.

I apologize if some of my questions are rather naive. It's not that I have not searched old threads for answers. I just couldn't find clear cut explanations.
 
Top