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Quantnet MFE Guide

Hi guys,
We are working on a guide that will be released later this year to our members. We want this to be as useful to as many of our members as possible. There are many people contributing to this guide and it will contain lot of info that are relevant such as detailed placement/admission stats of the top programs, etc.

That said, I'd like to hear input on what would be useful for YOU. Here is some idea on the scope of our Quantnet guide

Tentative topic list as of 4/6/12

I. About Financial Engineering:
  1. Industry Overview:
    • What does a quant do?
    • Discuss general pay, hours, and the types of businesses who hire quants.
    • What kinds of quants are there?
    1. Areas of derivatives.The current job market:
    • Overall state of the industry given changes over the recent years.
    • Career placement stats by location and industry. If no detailed information available, give trends by geographic regions.
    • Special considerations for professionals looking into a new career.
    1. Preparing for a Job in the Field:
    • What types of degrees help you break into the field.
    • Areas of study, what you need to learn.
    • Specific math topics?
    • Prerequisites to be considered for program and where to get those classes.
    • Exams.
    1. Reading List: Books about the industry in general.
    II. Finding an MFE Program:
    1. U.S.-based MFE programs chart:
    Chart to discuss length of program, tuition, deadlines, areas of concentration, electives offered, dual degree option, need- or merit-based financial aid, admission stats.
    1. UK/Europe-based MFE programs chart:
    Chart to discuss length of program, tuition, deadlines, areas of concentration, electives offered, dual degree option, need- or merit-based financial aid, admission stats.
    1. UK/Europe-based MFE programs overview article:
    • Number of programs
    • How do they differentiate from one another or from the US-based programs (Tuition/culture/career service wise)
    • The type of financial employers there?
    • What kind of employment arrangement for MFE students? How do they get a work visa?
    1. Asia-based MFE programs chart:
    Chart to discuss length of program, tuition, deadlines, areas of concentration, electives offered, dual degree option, need- or merit-based financial aid, admission stats.
    1. Asia-based MFE programs overview article:
    • Number of programs
    • How do they differentiate from one another or from the US-based programs (Tuition/culture/career service wise)
    • The type of financial employers there?
    • What kind of employment arrangement for MFE students? How do they get a work visa?
    1. Tips/tricks from admission committee and applicants who successfully got into top programs
    2. Finding the right program for you:
    • Tips on what to ask an MFE program dean.
    • Programs geared toward professionals seeking change to quant career?
    1. Sample admission essays
    2. Reading List: Books about MFE education-related topics.
    III. Getting Hired:
    1. Hiring advice from top career professionals, recruiters, hiring managers:
    • Cover advice for new graduates as well as professionals who switched careers and went back for MFE degree.
    • Sample interview questions piece could come from this research.
    1. List of firms that offer quant internships and jobs: Could do a Top 25 or 50, list by derivative areas, industry type, or geographic region (international, US/Canada, UK/Europe, Asia/Pacific).
    2. Graduate quant recruiting programs: Cover graduate programs from the students’ point of view, including placement process, dedicated staff, companies who recruit at that program, etc.
    3. Top investment banks that target quant PhD/MFE applicants such as Credit Suisse GSI, Barclays, JPM:
    4. How to Find a Job & Resume Example:
    5. Reading List: Books about job search process.
    IV. Professional Development:
    1. Professional organizations (why will it help with my career and why do they matter):
    • SQA
    • IAFE
    • GARP
    1. Continuing education once you're hired.
    • What kinds of things do I need to do to stay current once I’ve got a job?
    • Could include joining LinkedIn groups, social media, websites like QuantNet that specialize in bringing together those in the industry.
    1. Reading List: Books for people established in jobs.
 
For MFE applicants:
Some MFE programs have multiple area of concentrations: for instance, Princeton has three namely, financial engineering and risk management, quantitative asset management and Macroeconomic forecasting, Financial technologies.
I think those info might be useful as well.
 
For professionals who want to break into quant finance:

What specific topics about math are required for most of the programs and are useful on field.
 
1-Include the list of useful book.
2-Also you can extract some useful stats from the Tracker and include them into the guide line. (the average GPA and GRE score for admission)
3-Include common scenarios for applicant who are willing to get into the FE and the best path for them. (how to improve weak GPA, from PhD/MS in engineering or science to MFE, etc)
4-a Q&A section including to most common questions from the forum.
 
I'd add:

1. Financial Aid - Merit and need based
2. Dual Degree Offerings
3. Try to break out career placement stats by location and industry
4. Elective courses offered
 
For MFE applicants:
Some MFE programs have multiple area of concentrations: for instance, Princeton has three namely, financial engineering and risk management, quantitative asset management and Macroeconomic forecasting, Financial technologies.
I think those info might be useful as well.
Having different tracks seem like a popular move these days by programs to capture a wider audience with different background and career goals.
 
This is great initiative Andy.

As part of the guide, information on different tracks of school will provide information from perspective that "where people want to go". But, it will be actually great to see "where people actually went". E.g. School X has Y% people going to Sales and Trading etc.
 
I can't speak for Asia but for Singapore, there's 4 programs. I'm starting at SMU this fall, and happy to share my experiences breaking into the quant scene with my non-traditional background in due course.

Nanyang Technological University - MFE (7-week component at CMU)
National University of Singapore - MQF (by math, stats and econs departments)
National University of Singapore - MFE (by Risk Management Institute)
Singapore Management University - MQF (trimester at Cass Business School)
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
You should include a section of key subject matter NOT covered in a quant MS program like
Accounting
Corporate Finance
Institutional Studies
Fixed Income Markets
Equity Markets
Commodity Markets
(I know that most programs say they cover it, but they do a uniformly poor job. I've had to teach remedial fixed income several times, and some good students still draw the price/yield relationship as concave with respect to the origin.)
This section should include reference materials like books, papers, and webinars.)

The reason I say this is that many students come in for interviews knowing only academic finance, and only the quant piece, at that. To sell yourself effectively, you should demonstrate some knowledge beyond key formulae.
 

Lyn Huang

NYU MSMF
I think all of the replies above are very helpful. I'd like to specify more from the point of a Chinese applicant.

1. Most Chinese parents place more emphasis on the overall ranking of a school (from published rankings such as US News) than the quality of a program itself, which greatly influences the final decision of the applicant. A comparison between Statistics/pure Finance/Economics programs at world known schools and top MFE programs will of great help, since Chinese MFE applicants usually apply for 15+ programs and about half of them are not MFE programs. If the applicant major in Math/Stats, he might also apply to Applied Math/Stats programs; if he major in Fin/FE/Business, he might also apply to pure Finance/Econ programs.

Info like where the graduates are placed, average starting salary, and average time it takes for them to secure a job is more convincing than any compliment.:)

2. Include the class profile of the incoming students each year. See Berkeley's program website: http://mfe.berkeley.edu/community/students/classprofile.html
But I think it's not very easy to get the class profiles of all MFE programs.;)
 

Yang_Pop

Tina.Yang
For MFE applicants
Different programs have different concentrations, some on risk management, some in investment, some on pricing.
I think the concentration of programs might be helpful ~;)
 
Just some minor clarifications worth pointing out: the guide is PDF format so it is designed to provide useful info for everyone interested in the field, and not intended to cover the ever changing details of each program.
For that, our website is a more appropriate medium since we can keep updating/changing the info. Expect to see detailed info on each program via our Wiki page where you can make comparison between any given program.
 

Lyn Huang

NYU MSMF
One more point, maybe include some info abt the interviewers and what the interview is like (technical/behavioral)? I'm not talking abt the specific interviewer of each program. Just some general information would be enough, such as:

1. Columbia -- ask the applicants to call in; behavioral questions A/B/C; many interviewees including students.
2. Berkeley -- 1st interview with a current student is technical; 2nd interview with Ms. Linda is not technical.
3. CMU -- behavioral questions; skype interview with executive director or Rick or ..
...
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
I think there should be a section on "Should I choose this line of work ?"

I good % of the threads on QN and Wilmott.com are around that theme, so people clearly want help and given the cost and importance of the decision they are wise to seek advise. I volunteer to write that part.

The vexed subject of "which program should I choose" is something I can't write because of the clear conflict of interest caused by my lecturing on the Wilmott CQF. I can however offer to write something on "what to look for in a good course"

I think there also needs to be a section on "Alternatives to MFEs /CQF "
On a number of occasions I have indicated to people that they should at least consider masters level stats as an option, there are other alternatives, though of course.
 
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