Tech (Data Engineering/Analytics) -> Quant Developer?

lseactuary

New Member
5 years in FAANG in Data/Analytics/Data Eng roles.
BSc in Statistics from a top UK uni. 2:1 attained.
MSc in Software Eng/Computer Science from Oxbridge. Will be completed by mid next year. Likely to get a merit award.

I am considering doing this while working: The Certificate in Quantitative Finance | CQF to supplement my financial knowledge. They have a large data science/ML section too, which will prepare me well for Data Science jobs in tech if I choose to stay in the tech industry also. The program is about 8k GBP all in for me as I'm a student so I can get a scholarship.

Goal is ideally a quant developer role at a HF or similar in London. Where I am falling down at the moment is employers want financial mathematics or similar degrees. I have explored this but I cannot afford it outside of the UK, and going full time is not an option as I need to work and support myself.

I am struggling to move to the US through FAANG so am considering going freelance for 30 hours a week (have secured contracts, all Python/AWS work, pay is higher than FAANG), completing the Masters and doing CQF, then we go from there.

Is the CQF + Masters + freelance / prepare for jobs on the side the right way to go?
 
Certificate + side project
pro: Time/money saving, more flexible, can learn what you really want to learn
con: less recognition, no school support for transition into your new job role

another master degree
pro: more recognition, career service from school
con: need to take some courses which are not your interests
 

lseactuary

New Member
Certificate + side project
pro: Time/money saving, more flexible, can learn what you really want to learn
con: less recognition, no school support for transition into your new job role

another master degree
pro: more recognition, career service from school
con: need to take some courses which are not your interests
Given my background (experience + education) do I need another Master degree to transition?

I could do 'finish masters' + prepare for interviews / code and once I finish my Masters (~6-8 months) apply for roles. The issue is it would be either back to tech or as a DE/SDE role in a HF because I won't have the finance knowledge to be a quant/quant dev etc.

I think the 'pro' of another Masters is not 100% true. I went to 2 'top target' schools and the career service has been pretty poor in both in my experience. The 'pro' of the certificate is actually meeting people in industry in lectures/jobs and an actual network to then help you get interviews, though this could be exaggerated.

I think the 'con' of another Masters is basically another year in school/not earning and no guarantee of a job after. Even at my target several completed Masters and had no job after, mostly because their programming skills were weaker / no time to get expert on it. Taking courses outside of my interests is completely fine. :)
 
I’ve taken a brief look at the contents of the CQF certificate, the modules all look very relevant and good. However, I’m not sure how deep it will go. How long will it last? 6-8months? That will be tough to digest so many stuff.
 

lseactuary

New Member
I’ve taken a brief look at the contents of the CQF certificate, the modules all look very relevant and good. However, I’m not sure how deep it will go. How long will it last? 6-8months? That will be tough to digest so many stuff.
It is 1 module a month. But you can spread it out. The lady told me that often students go through the program in the first 6 months but don't do the assignment. And the other 6 months they do the assignment as they have had time to go through the content.
It looks more 'applied' and relevant to the job hence I am curious about this path. Cost wise its also about 8k which is 1/3rd of what I am paying for the Masters.
 
I don't think CQF or other certificates are particularly well viewed in the industry; typically I see people who have gone through the course landing jobs at market risk functions in banks etc. but not as quants.

Which employers are asking for financial masters degrees for quant dev roles (which is what I assume you've been eyeballing)?
 

lseactuary

New Member
I don't think CQF or other certificates are particularly well viewed in the industry; typically I see people who have gone through the course landing jobs at market risk functions in banks etc. but not as quants.

Which employers are asking for financial masters degrees for quant dev roles (which is what I assume you've been eyeballing)?
Understood, thanks! I just thought they have a DS/ML section, which could be useful in tech also if I choose to stay in industry. Just not sure how to get the finance knowledge really without doing another Masters in order to apply for jobs like the below.

It is typically the big banks looking for the financial mathematics backgrounds e.g.



Doing a search here also, most seem to want financial knowledge and/or experience: Search Jobs | eFinancialCareers
 

purpleskye

New Member
I was in a (somewhat) similar boat a while back. Graduated with a math/stats bachelor's and was at a top-tier consultancy in the US doing nothing related to my degree (though somewhat analytical). I had a couple of internships back in undergrad in the quant finance area but never ended up pursuing it; my skills were getting more obsolete and I was looking through the job boards (same as you did) and realized that most quant jobs require an advanced degree of some sort in financial math / applied math / CS. I couldn't get interviews anywhere despite my resume / background as my skillset was just not suited for this area. I ended up doing the CFA and applying to a MFE program at the same time. It was a complete shift in career which meant that I had to start all over again.

Since you already have a technical masters (or soon to), I'd suggest pursuing the CFA program to develop a well-rounded financial background and getting your foot in the door. I think with your educational background + CFA + some networking, I don't see how you cannot work in a strats role in London. Once in, it'll be much easier for you to transfer / switch over to the US side. You should just try to apply for those jobs - I don't think there's anything that should hold you back.

One more thought that came to mind - have you considered a MBA? I know it's not relevant in quant finance, but it gives you another shot at recruiting. You can leverage your background and the MBA to try VC or PE.

Edit: Also want to add that neither of us are fresh undergrads just out of college anymore - the types of jobs that we target should also be different. I think you should rather be more selective in what you are targeting too (i.e., work experience / skill requirements).
 
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Understood, thanks! I just thought they have a DS/ML section, which could be useful in tech also if I choose to stay in industry. Just not sure how to get the finance knowledge really without doing another Masters in order to apply for jobs like the below.

It is typically the big banks looking for the financial mathematics backgrounds e.g.
The traditional desk quants at banks write arbitrage free models for derivatives, and so for this yes you'd want someone with a financial maths background, though for an entry level role this is not always strictly necessary (depends on the group's size and current needs).

So let's look at your current status and the jobs you posted.

At 5 years of industry experience you'd typically be a VP and the typical path at banks is to do an internship or two (during/right after graduation), after which you'd be hired fulltime as an associate (somewhat bank dependent, as some hire as a senior analyst). Now after 5 years at FAANG, you're not (probably) going to be interested in doing internships anymore, but at the same time it's difficult to justify a VP position given lack of industry knowhow, so if you target banks, I suppose you'd be going for associate roles.

You have data science on your CV - good, because this is hot in finance now, too, and there's banks whose superdays for quant internships are actually split so that people with DS knowledge don't get rejected just because they don't know stochastic calculus.

Ok, so let's take a look at the roles you talked about. Others may well disagree with my takes here, and of course these are the ones written up for public consumption and can often be quite vague, but here goes.

This has 8 requirements, 6 of which you can tick boxes on. The two remaining are:
  • Good understanding of equity derivative products
  • Proven experience working in a front office role, or within a team directly supporting traders and/or salespersons
The latter is basically just to say that you can work in a fast paced environment with immediate customer feedback (though you could take it to also mean that one already has experience in a similar role, i.e. an internship). The former implies that this is a derivatives pricing role, but at the same time the responsibilities include machine learning stuff, and finding people with actual work experience in both is still rare, and I'd be surprised if they wouldn't at least give you consideration given your experience. And once you get interviews, you've entered the next stage, where your degrees no longer matter; Much like the plethora of articles, books and YouTube videos on FAANG interviews, quant interviews are similarly rather formulaic, and several books have been written. You'll need to know Black-Scholes, but you don't need a two year degree to manage that.

This is a VP level role so unless you have FXO experience, which you don't, don't apply.

Because there seems to be some exotic note issuance involved, they'd probably like someone with a traditional quant background, but that said, this is securities and there's market making involved, so they might be excited to have someone with data science expertise, too. The way I read the description, they basically want someone who's done an internship in the macro space and can hit the ground running.

Finally, this job is not a typical bank quant role, but from the sounds of it, is in the space of research (think equity research etc). While you can see that they're looking for someone with a couple of years' experience, from the way they put it, it sounds like fresh grads outside of finance are welcome to apply as well.

So my take here is not that financial mathematics is required, and in fact none of the jobs specified this as an educational requirement and just said "quantitative subject" instead, but rather that entering through those jobs, you're expected to have gone the usual internship shuffle. If that's not something you want to be doing, you can still try and get interviews for the jobs and failing that, apply for jobs that are more similar to your background (e.g. a quant dev rather than the FO desk quant roles you listed - if you then don't like that, it's possible to internally, or externally, change course once you have a year or two of experience).

As for the CFA suggested above, others may disagree, but I don't think I know a single quant that has a CFA (or probably I do but it's just never come up in a conversation). I may have seen that in CVs of applicants, but much like CQF, it doesn't move me one way or the other (though once you make it to an interview, none of the educational background really matters anymore anyway - but I don't think a CFA will really help you get past CV screens as it's not a measure of something quantative).
 
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purpleskye

New Member
As for the CFA suggested above, others may disagree, but I don't think I know a single quant that has a CFA (or probably I do but it's just never come up in a conversation). I may have seen that in CVs of applicants, but much like CQF, it doesn't move me one way or the other (though once you make it to an interview, none of the educational background really matters anymore anyway - but I don't think a CFA will really help you get past CV screens as it's not a measure of something quantative).
Although I agree that CFA Is not entirely relevant to quant finance, but it does hold its standard in large buy side firms and portfolio management. Given that OP has very little finance background, it is a good way to gain a broader understanding of the industry. And I'm sure that the initial resume screens does filter by CFA candidacy - it can only help you (though the tradeoff of studying for the three levels instead of focusing on networking, practicing interviews is something else).
 

lseactuary

New Member
I was in a (somewhat) similar boat a while back. Graduated with a math/stats bachelor's and was at a top-tier consultancy in the US doing nothing related to my degree (though somewhat analytical). I had a couple of internships back in undergrad in the quant finance area but never ended up pursuing it; my skills were getting more obsolete and I was looking through the job boards (same as you did) and realized that most quant jobs require an advanced degree of some sort in financial math / applied math / CS. I couldn't get interviews anywhere despite my resume / background as my skillset was just not suited for this area. I ended up doing the CFA and applying to a MFE program at the same time. It was a complete shift in career which meant that I had to start all over again.

Since you already have a technical masters (or soon to), I'd suggest pursuing the CFA program to develop a well-rounded financial background and getting your foot in the door. I think with your educational background + CFA + some networking, I don't see how you cannot work in a strats role in London. Once in, it'll be much easier for you to transfer / switch over to the US side. You should just try to apply for those jobs - I don't think there's anything that should hold you back.

One more thought that came to mind - have you considered a MBA? I know it's not relevant in quant finance, but it gives you another shot at recruiting. You can leverage your background and the MBA to try VC or PE.

Edit: Also want to add that neither of us are fresh undergrads just out of college anymore - the types of jobs that we target should also be different. I think you should rather be more selective in what you are targeting too (i.e., work experience / skill requirements).
Thank you for the detailed reply.

1. I have the consultancy option also now with my background but the reason I went to FAANG was because I wanted to build things, not advise only. But I need to leave FAANG for now, to finish my Masters, as everything is not manageable anymore. I could go back to FAANG, but I've worked in a few, and because I'm not seeing a 100% fit, I was exploring other options. The certificate had a big section on data science / ML which I thought would be useful even if I can't land a job in finance.
2. I considered the CFA first. The issue I have is it is a 3 year investment at minimum. I may as well do MFE instead haha. I also to be honest don't think I can do freelance + Masters + prepare for interviews + CFA my brain will bust haha.
3. I also considered an MBA. My issue with that is really the cost. I would pretty much be in debt (as I don't have much savings) and tbh even the Masters has been difficult enough to pay for. I did consider VC/PE/IBD in undergrad actually, but its not a fit, I am a technical guy.
4. One path is to move into a Data Engineer or similar role at a financial services firm, in the Front Office environment, but on a contract role. That would get me the Front Office experience, which should hold some standing. Another path is an internship, but I think a contract role (given my experience/background) would actually be easier to secure and pay better also.

I am open to a Strats role (infact I was looking at these first). It is more to get my foot into the door, then I can perform and see then where I can go. The issue with Strats at the moment is they want the Masters completed and most Strats roles I have seen require the financial experience and/or knowledge still and I don't know how to obtain this. For example here is a Strats role for GS:

Basic Qualifications • MS, or PhD in math, physics, computer science or engineering • Knowledge of interest rates, FX, credit market and products, as well as capital and risk management preferred • Experience in a front office Strats or similar role

#1 I will match in 6 months. The other 2 bullets not really.

Similar issue with other banks e.g.

This was the only one which didn't have a strict requirement: Job Details | eFinancialCareers: Equity Derivatives Strat - Market Intelligence/Data Scientist - in Anson McCade, London, England, United Kingdom
 

lseactuary

New Member
The traditional desk quants at banks write arbitrage free models for derivatives, and so for this yes you'd want someone with a financial maths background, though for an entry level role this is not always strictly necessary (depends on the group's size and current needs).

So let's look at your current status and the jobs you posted.

At 5 years of industry experience you'd typically be a VP and the typical path at banks is to do an internship or two (during/right after graduation), after which you'd be hired fulltime as an associate (somewhat bank dependent, as some hire as a senior analyst). Now after 5 years at FAANG, you're not (probably) going to be interested in doing internships anymore, but at the same time it's difficult to justify a VP position given lack of industry knowhow, so if you target banks, I suppose you'd be going for associate roles.

You have data science on your CV - good, because this is hot in finance now, too, and there's banks whose superdays for quant internships are actually split so that people with DS knowledge don't get rejected just because they don't know stochastic calculus.

Ok, so let's take a look at the roles you talked about. Others may well disagree with my takes here, and of course these are the ones written up for public consumption and can often be quite vague, but here goes.

This has 8 requirements, 6 of which you can tick boxes on. The two remaining are:
  • Good understanding of equity derivative products
  • Proven experience working in a front office role, or within a team directly supporting traders and/or salespersons
The latter is basically just to say that you can work in a fast paced environment with immediate customer feedback (though you could take it to also mean that one already has experience in a similar role, i.e. an internship). The former implies that this is a derivatives pricing role, but at the same time the responsibilities include machine learning stuff, and finding people with actual work experience in both is still rare, and I'd be surprised if they wouldn't at least give you consideration given your experience. And once you get interviews, you've entered the next stage, where your degrees no longer matter; Much like the plethora of articles, books and YouTube videos on FAANG interviews, quant interviews are similarly rather formulaic, and several books have been written. You'll need to know Black-Scholes, but you don't need a two year degree to manage that.

This is a VP level role so unless you have FXO experience, which you don't, don't apply.

Because there seems to be some exotic note issuance involved, they'd probably like someone with a traditional quant background, but that said, this is securities and there's market making involved, so they might be excited to have someone with data science expertise, too. The way I read the description, they basically want someone who's done an internship in the macro space and can hit the ground running.

Finally, this job is not a typical bank quant role, but from the sounds of it, is in the space of research (think equity research etc). While you can see that they're looking for someone with a couple of years' experience, from the way they put it, it sounds like fresh grads outside of finance are welcome to apply as well.

So my take here is not that financial mathematics is required, and in fact none of the jobs specified this as an educational requirement and just said "quantitative subject" instead, but rather that entering through those jobs, you're expected to have gone the usual internship shuffle. If that's not something you want to be doing, you can still try and get interviews for the jobs and failing that, apply for jobs that are more similar to your background (e.g. a quant dev rather than the FO desk quant roles you listed - if you then don't like that, it's possible to internally, or externally, change course once you have a year or two of experience).

As for the CFA suggested above, others may disagree, but I don't think I know a single quant that has a CFA (or probably I do but it's just never come up in a conversation). I may have seen that in CVs of applicants, but much like CQF, it doesn't move me one way or the other (though once you make it to an interview, none of the educational background really matters anymore anyway - but I don't think a CFA will really help you get past CV screens as it's not a measure of something quantative).
The CQF for me was more to show an actual interest in finance (as unless I can break in I'm not sure how else to signal it) but also they have a large data science / ML section which I think would be useful for roles in finance and tech.

Once I finish my Masters, I am not concerned about there being no roles, I just want to spend the next 6-8 months being as prepared as possible. You mentioned Quant interviews are formulaic... can you point me to the resources where I can prepare and ensure I am solid?

A few other options:
1. I can apply for contract Data Engineer / Quant Dev type roles at banks. This would mean I get the experience, maybe just not the knowledge directly through academics, so once my Masters is over I am in a good place.
2. JPM also offer a part time Equity Research internship which I applied for which I thought could be good but I was rejected pre-interview (they have no solid requirements apart from a BSc / 2:1 grade and something unique really). I am open to internships in general also. Perhaps an off-cycle is smart?
 
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To name a few books:
Joshi et al - Quant Job Interview Questions and Answers
Crack - Heard on the Street
Zhou - A Practical Guide To Quantitative Finance Interviews
+ Glassdoor etc

Equity research is not a quant job, and I thought you said you wanted to do something technical rather than work in an area where an MBA, CFA or other three letter designations count.

You could also try contacting some headhunters to see what they think of your profile and whether they think they can get you interviews.
 

lseactuary

New Member
To name a few books:
Joshi et al - Quant Job Interview Questions and Answers
Crack - Heard on the Street
Zhou - A Practical Guide To Quantitative Finance Interviews
+ Glassdoor etc

Equity research is not a quant job, and I thought you said you wanted to do something technical rather than work in an area where an MBA, CFA or other three letter designations count.

You could also try contacting some headhunters to see what they think of your profile and whether they think they can get you interviews.
It was a research internship - where quant research falls into it also. :)
Thanks for the book list.
Sure, I will do this. Most are saying I need the Masters first but not really answering the question of how I get the finance experience hence I came on here.
 
It was a research internship - where quant research falls into it also. :)
Just to clarify: different banks name their teams differently, and they are massive organizations where internal and external consistency in naming is sometimes lacking. For example at GS you might have strats and they do a full spectrum of things. At MS they have strats and modellers where strats are more desk aligned. At JPM they have global quantitative research and quantitative research, where the teams have nothing to do with each other and the former is a subteam within research (in the sense of equity research) and does not offer the kind of technical modelling/strat role you'd find in the latter. Applying to an equity research role, no quant (it's a term covering so many roles it's almost meaningless, but hopefully it is clear what I mean here) will have seen your resume (again, massive organizations and things are not usually as well organized as they may appear on the outside at first glance).
 
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