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Quant Jobs in Australia?

I'm currently doing a Math degree and have a few questions.

What are the job prospects in Australia for an aspiring quant? Or even just mathematical type jobs in the finance industry? What level of qualifications and grades are needed? Are there any decent MFE programs?
How about actuarial type jobs? How does the demand for them compare?
 
Hey there - fellow Maths grad (honours this year) in Sydney going into a quant job next year.

From my point of view, there are actually a lot of opportunities for quants in Australia. Many of them are inevitably in retail banks dealing with risk management in either front/back office operations. Every single bank has a quant desk - it's just a matter of whether they hire from graduates. The bigger retail banks do hire quants through their graduate program. In terms of investment banks, Macquarie is a notable Aussie bank that hires a lot of quants, though mostly through their internship and then grad program. For foreign investment banks, these are much harder to come by since they're not hiring all the time.

In terms of qualifications, I'd say a Bachelors/Honours degree in maths/mathematical finance/mathematical computing is sufficient. You can always upskill later with an MFE or PhD.

In terms of MFE, the only one that's really 'known' is the MQF at UTS. This generally leads to quant jobs in retail banks dealing with their trading models/model risk. Have a stalk on Linkedin for that. I'd say if you want to end up at an IB or hedge fund doing very quant stuff (coding/implementation of complex models), you would want to do an MFE or PhD.

Actuarial - the big 4 audit firms hire many through their graduate program, as well as actuarial analytics places like Quantium or Rice Warner.

In short, there will always be a demand for quants in Australia, so if you are good, you'll definitely have job opportunities.

Having said that - Sydney's financial job market does not compare to NY or LDN or HKG, but then you have less competition.
 
You should plug into the program where Mark Joshi teaches for MFE. I know it's in Sydney or Melbourne Uni. You can't get more than quanty than that.

I'm currently doing a Math degree and have a few questions.

What are the job prospects in Australia for an aspiring quant? Or even just mathematical type jobs in the finance industry? What level of qualifications and grades are needed? Are there any decent MFE programs?
How about actuarial type jobs? How does the demand for them compare?
 
Thanks. Both good and useful replies.
One other question. What would be seen as better by an employer, honours in math or a second degree in physics. (Assuming both would take an extra one year)? Or both perhaps?
Do people generally do honours before MFE?
And are there specific areas to do honours in which would make me more hireable for quant type positions? I'm thinking something related to stochastic processes or similar?
 
Honours in financial mathematics would be seen much better. You'd need to sell your coding skills more if you did physics, because ultimately it is less related. A 4 year honours degree is generally equivalent to a 3 year honours degree from the UK or a 4 year degree in the USA, so I'd say mostly definitely you should consider doing honours if you want to move into the quant scene.

Your honours could be anything in financial mathematics and so you should do what you want!
 
Once you get the honors suffix you will still be like a baby in diapers competing with someone in Samurai armour (PhD) for even an entry level quant job. You can do a Masters in Physics or Maths in one year, if you can, than spending that time to get the honors tag next to your degree.





Thanks. Both good and useful replies.
One other question. What would be seen as better by an employer, honours in math or a second degree in physics. (Assuming both would take an extra one year)? Or both perhaps?
Do people generally do honours before MFE?
And are there specific areas to do honours in which would make me more hireable for quant type positions? I'm thinking something related to stochastic processes or similar?
 
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'Quant' jobs I guess can be split into different groups. Here's my take (on Sydney - there's practically nothing in Melbourne):
  • Actuarial - quite a lot
  • Credit - still quite a few... each major bank needs a lot of credit risk controls. The big 4 banks hire quantitative credit risk grads... although they're usually with honours or higher
  • Markets - rarer, and harder to get into unless you have a PhD or good MFE. Each of the big 4 probably hire one of these a year in their front office and risk teams. Macq might hire one or two. I know a couple of guys in the QAD team at Macq were hired after honours. I think they were university medal types though... or at least 1st class honours.
  • Quant trader - rare. There's a handful of prop shops in Australia
In terms of schooling, do what you like to do. If you like it all equally, aim for something in finance honours that uses programmed stochastic calculus. Options would be a plus.

There are no great MFE programs in Australia. That's why I got out of there. All the MFE courses seemed like bachelors courses with a bit of extra stuff tacked on; not really bespoke. The only one that seemed decent was the UTS one, which is more computationally intensive. Not sure if it'll help you land an interview though. If you really want to stay in Australia and do a masters program, I would highly recommend doing it in computer science.

Grades-wise, an HD average will stand well on its own. A D average probably needs something special, like self-study in quant techniques, winning competitions, prior work experience etc.

Hope that helps

J
 
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I'm currently doing a Math degree and have a few questions.

What are the job prospects in Australia for an aspiring quant? Or even just mathematical type jobs in the finance industry? What level of qualifications and grades are needed? Are there any decent MFE programs?
How about actuarial type jobs? How does the demand for them compare?
I can't speak on Australia from experience but the general rule is that demand for actuaries is always higher. Sydney is always where my Australian finance clients were based and that is probably where you will get the demand.

However one word of warning - I have worked with quants that were ex-actuaries and ex for a reason. It is as one ex-actuary described it 'not very mathematical' and he described the exams as 'memory tests' where they regurgitated maths from coursebooks word for word. At least that's a UK and Ireland thing, but I suspect it's the same globally.

One point he did make, that should come into your decision, is that it depends on what type of insurance business you look at. Pensions is supposed to be the worst where your job will be to essentially write letters to clients and nothing very interesting. On the other hand there are investment based actuarial jobs where you will actually look at risk modelling and capital - Loss Given Default etc evaluating a bank's capital requirements and at the same time get a much better job security than a quant, while becoming senior very quickly. Many actuaries I stay in touch with from college say similar things.

You will need to consider a few things. It's all and well getting airy fairy and talking about 'what you want' and naming a career, but you need to consider what's underneath the image. On one hand if you really feel you have to work with models from day one you may find actuary to be a very dry subject and hate it and much prefer credit modelling or any of the other pure quant roles you mentioned. Or if not you may prefer having job security as one thing that took me a while to realise as a quant was how complex and messy your career becomes and how easily you can go from sought after to having skills not needed especially when firms change their strategy and move you around, or markets change. While actuaries always seem to have somewhere to go for work. Thing is, in banking and quant finance what other industries would regard as diverse skills can be looked upon negatively, depending on how it pans out, so if you are suddenly asked to do Excel modelling in your first role or for whatever reason veered away from something that uses your maths and programming skill set for a while things can get tricky. Generally you figure your way around but my own experience with quant work is that there is a lot of moving around to repair issues with the CV, while when actuaries move around it's for much more straightforward reasons like scabby pay raises or in the case of a classmate from my undergrad, hating his boss.

Even if I were to go back to when I started, knowing which markets worked best I would still pick what suited my personality as being in something that does that trumps demand metrics anyday.
 
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For what it's worth, I have a friend who made 120k (plus a meager bonus) for being a risk management analyst for a company that specializes in risk management consultancy here in NY.

Westpac offered him a sufficiently sweet deal that he picked up and left for Australia. He wouldn't tell me how much, but it was enough to pull him overseas.


But to build on what was previously said, I wouldn't focus on actuarial work. Don't waste your time on that. That's the standard "what do I do if I can't get a quant job" answer. There are more creative solutions. If the Australian market is anything like the market here in the US (I'm looking for a better position myself right now) then "data scientist" roles are the big new thing.

Visa (and all the CC companies), Tumblr, Facebook, Google, Opera Solutions, and a veritable onslaught of companies you and I have never heard of and probably never will, employ an army of quant-like people. Just do a LinkedIn search on "data scientist" to see the width and breadth of jobs in that field. "Data scientist" is the new lingo for "a creative guy who's good at stats, SQL, and may know Python or Scala."

Another thing to look at is Bioinformatics. That will be big in university research groups. If you have a soul, then this work might be good for you. Who is going to help lick the Zika virus? I used to teach physics to premed students. Doctors are awful at math!

Also, don't forget Pharma. I'm sure there's big pharma there. Since you're young and energetic, you'd probably land a junior role in pharma. You'd probably have to work your butt off since there will be a learning curve, but it might just be a very sweet, very lucrative career.

And, of course, there's always actuarial work.

That said -- if you go down that route, I don't know if you'll be able to come back to finance. That's why I'm not 100% sold on that idea. But it's an interesting idea nonetheless.
 
But to build on what was previously said, I wouldn't focus on actuarial work. Don't waste your time on that. That's the standard "what do I do if I can't get a quant job" answer.

It's also the standard answer non-mathematicians give, usually followed by a ton of retarded uninformed drivel. Never listen to people that have no experience of your specific area.
The only commentary that is worse is when people are looking to get a PhD to become a quant and some clown goes 'would an MBA not suit you better?'.

And, of course, there's always actuarial work.

That said -- if you go down that route, I don't know if you'll be able to come back to finance. That's why I'm not 100% sold on that idea. But it's an interesting idea nonetheless.

I wouldn't bet on it. I have worked with ex-actuaries that got into finance 15+ years ago when switching around was easier. There probably are ones that did that in recent years but they will have jumped through hoops. Financial firms hate people that have had jobs in other industries before entering finance, and quant hiring managers will be well aware that actuary uses nowhere near the level of maths that quant finance does.
 
Haha, this just became a rip on actuaries. Some actuaries don't do much quant work... but hey, some quants don't do much quant work. It really depends on the company and job. Getting the qualifications is also no joke. How much is used from what is learned? Well, how much of an MFE is used? It really depends on the quant path you want - insurance, credit, markets, data analytics etc.

By the way, the data science scene is Australia is absolute rubbish. All your Googles, Amazons etc. are head quartered in the US, and only have marketing/sales in Australia. Universities might be okay. All the data science startups in Australia are also crap. Go to (or stay in) Australia for the lifestyle.

J
 
Go to (or stay in) Australia for the lifestyle.

Does that include dodging the seemingly endless list of nature's creatures that wants to kill human life from this Earth? Seems like the list of Australian denizens can be described as "The most (poisonous|cuddly|weird|dangerous|venomous|pretty|cannibalistic|..) on the planet. Hahaha!

But seriously, I currently work as a quant-for-hire, so I've seen a heck of a lot. You would be surprised at the companies that hire quants.

For example, we've been focusing on "actuary" but insurance companies also hire real-live quants. Like, MFE people to do MFE work. That's because big insurance companies have asset management groups and trading desks, just like banks. The big ones. I've been a consultant at numerous insurance companies, and their operations are impressive.

Oil companies also hire quants. They too have trading desks and AMGs. You'd be surprised at how complicated the commodity markets are. They seem so simple in school, right? Wrong!

Accounting firms need to retain quants, for example, to price illiquid investments.

Even rich people hire quants. There's a certain person that always makes it to the "top 10 richest people on the planet". I haven't consulted there, but I have a friend that did. He has a trading floor and an army of quants.

That exhausts my financial non-finance company experience. But I would imagine that any company that needs to invest in commodities will also hire quants for hedging and forward/future deals. Any company involved with transportation. Shipping (boats and cars), airlines, tourism.

BTW, JLevin, I did a quick LI search on data scientist Australia. The market seems quite big and diverse.
 
Haha, well if you live in a major city then you won't really see those critters... having said that, I've hit a couple kangaroos with my car...

I do understand that all sorts of companies hire quants. But unless these companies are headquartered in Australia, it's not that likely that the quants would be there. Also, most quants that would be hired aren't entry-level (which is kind of what I focused on based on the initial post). Foreigners do get poached (I think there was an example earlier in this thread).

I do agree that there are a fair few asset-management quants and credit quants. These areas are sizable in any developed country. Trading/markets-wise, there's hardly anything. Any big firm that trades will stick their operations in Hong Kong or Singapore, because the timezone is the same and everything is collocated. The exceptions are Optiver, SIG and Tibra, that trade out of Sydney. I might be wrong here, but I think to trade in HK, one needs a physical presence.

I used to work at a data analytics company in Australia, and although there are a couple of gems, on the whole it's behind the US. Where I worked is supposed to be one of the biggest and best data analytics companies in Australia, though no Analysts learned programming past SQL. The data science conventions were pretty weak.

J
 
I used to work at a data analytics company in Australia, and although there are a couple of gems, on the whole it's behind the US. Where I worked is supposed to be one of the biggest and best data analytics companies in Australia, though no Analysts learned programming past SQL. The data science conventions were pretty weak.

J
A lot of countries are like this. I see the same thing in Dublin where IT is doing ok, but where stuff like data science scratches the surface. And as you say about Oz it has some gems but on the whole it's behind other places.

I wrote for a data science/business intelligence blog before taking my current role and could see from our Twitter feed, especially on machine learning articles, who was actually using that stuff and where. You could see the contrast between areas like US, London, some Asian cities and the rest of the world - Australia never featured. Any mention of Ireland at data science conventions is about where they put their server, NEVER about actual data science work, and 'Continentals' i.e. France, Germany etc complained about how little was done in their countries.

Or even just look in these cities with an experienced CV - I had a manager who went back to Dublin when a client offered him a specific quant role. The company tanked and, even with his 10 year's experience, there was very little quant work available, even though he knew all the agencies and quant managers. He was back in London and got a new role asap. Needless to say, local Dubs fob me off with crap like 'he probably didn't look hard enough' or other smug picked from the air bullcrap, but the cold faced reality is that media and public have not even a microscopic clue about these things.

I'm sure the roles are there in these cities but would look elsewhere to widen the net if I was in the OP's position. And that brings me to my next point. OP - in terms of quants using math, JLevin is right in that it is hugely variable, so keep a relatively open mind and learn as you go along. But one bit of advice some people give is that if you target an area that is math heavy that 'harder math is better' as you have to sell yourself as being able to do math other maths grads have not covered. I would get into Mark Joshi's courses - based on his books he is highly pragmatic, which is the extra bit you need whatever you choose to do. I'm not 100% sure about the 'harder is better' thing but definitely keep on eye on what is useful.

Also, and I know it sounds inane, but please be sure you are doing the work you want in your first firm. Sometimes the trap MFE grads fall into is applying for jobs in a panic and going "I'll walk this, have the skills => brilliant" doing something that scratches the surface and not being able to get out or even getting kicked out. Thing is if the maths or programming you use is limited, especially in your first role, and what you want to do uses tons of math then, your options can be limited in the future. Again, depends upon the situation, but don't make it difficult for yourself from the start. Get into something that uses your skills properly first, THEN you won't have many issues. Don't take my dad's approach of 'get a job first THEN do what you want' as the world does not work that way anymore.
 
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