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strengthening my background and other questions...?

I've been following this site for some time now. I've been researching MFE programs and this site seems to be the one constant that always pops up. I used to love math and computer science, then the dot-com bubble burst, and after being told my family to chase around after the next hot career over and over, I graduated from Baruch with a Finance degree. I just started at a high frequency hedge fund two weeks ago after some job moves. Right now I'm shuffling between trade operations and portfolio administration.

I realized after graduation that Finance does very little to prepare one with the technical aptitude necessary to succeed in the quantitative aspects (it's too broad of a field). I found myself wanting to delve deeper into Black-Scholes or the binomial-option pricing model than the half-a-class-overview would allow. I feel like I've done a pretty good job of teaching myself some basic essentials and I have friends who divulge a few trade secrets to get me thinking in the right mindset, but my college coursework in math and computer science amounts to one class in calculus, one in introductory C++, and two in statistics that I needed to graduate. I've bought books to rebuild and expand my knowledge and spent the last 6-8 months either buried in them or working.

The positive side to all this is that I've used Excel since I was 11 (about the time 5.0 came out) and I've been told that I'm I have the uncanny ability of being able to teach myself things, but I want to make that move. Teaching myself can only get me so far (on paper, and in practicality). Here's two questions to start it off...

1. The part that interests me the most is the CS aspect, but my friends suggest I should get MS in math or FE. They say CS is great and in demand, but you'll probably end up working on the back-end of the desk implementing strategies and algorithms rather than doing any modeling or trading. Is this true? What are the advantages of these three fields?

2. How can I best brush up my math/CS background so I can look better on paper when I apply? I'm looking at this about 1 year out, probably 2. I've gone as far as entertaining hitting the reset button and going back for a second bachelor's, though I've been told that's pretty extreme. Another option is to get an Associate's at Citytech since they have a program that seems equally weighted in both math and CS. A third option would be post-bacc classes.

Thanks in advance for any replies!

Yike Lu

Finder of biased coins.
In quant, CS is leverage for math skills. If you have no math skills but a lot of CS, that's when you go to the back-office. 0 times anything is still 0.
Dwsmith, that's...10 courses? It sounds like I might as well get that second bachelor's or associate's at citytech if it's that extensive. Thanks for the insight.

Yike, thanks for the advice. I figure that would be the case, but when you say back office, are we talking like, far removed from the trade and research desk, or just on the cusp (since you'll need to implement and test strategies)? I know you're definitely not talking traditional back-office like accounting but a little clarification would be appreciated. Would you say that getting an MFE would sort of be melding the math skills needed along with the CS background to break into a quantitative role? In what situations would you rather choose an MS in math, CS, or ME?

Also, I totally forgot about the Baruch pre-MFE program. Are these three seminars really going to provide me with the necessary math background to bolster my application, or are they kind of just fluff in that it's a light introduction to the topics at best? I couldn't find many reviews that didn't sound like marketing, so I'd really appreciate honest, realistic opinions on this...

Thanks for the link, Brad!