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Questions about quantitative investment managers


I work as a derivatives modeling quant for fixed income in the Quantitative Research team at one of the largest BB banks. In future I intend to switch to buy side where I wish to work either in a quantitative hedge fund or a prop trading firm. It would be great if the community here can help me get answers to some of the questions I have:

1. It seems that Renaissance Technologies hires only PhDs. Is this a very stringent rule that they have set, or they sometimes do end up hiring non PhDs in their revenue oriented quant research roles?
2. I see quant funds hiring PhDs, and they also hire MFE/MFin students. So is there a difference in the kind of work that PhDs and MFEs would get, like MFEs wont be working on the same level of problems that PhDs would be working on ? Or its an even ground once you get hired and there is no difference in the kind of work they get?
3. I want to work with a group that is trying to reach the level of RenTech's Medallion Fund. I understand that funds are very secretive, but are there other funds that are competing well with Medallion Fund or are doing even half as good as Medallion in terms of performance? So the question is, are there funds other than RenTech in the market, that I would be motivated to work with, because of their stellar performance ? Ideally I would've loved to work with RenTech but just getting a PhD with the goal of getting into RenTech seems too risky and naive.
4. When you work as a quant in a quant hedge fund, are you limited to a certain set of strategies? Like for example, currently I am looking into two areas (a) HFT (b) relative value arbitrage strategies that employ a mix of quant and fundamentals. So for example, are there two areas very different in terms of the kind of skills you would need, or you could have a fund which for example employs HFT for relative value arb? ( I'm not sure if that even makes sense)
5. What are some books or resources that I should read to understand quant buy side that will also help me narrow down the kind of strategies I would want to work with?
6. In the prop trading world, could you comment on how good are these firms in their performance or at their game? (a) Optiver (b) Flow Traders (c) Five Rings Capital ? Also, do these prop trading firms don't hire you for a quant trader role if you are older than a certain age?

Apart from these questions, I would also be glad to answer any questions that any one of you may have for me, like how I got my current quant role; sort of like an AMA. Thanks!