In my undergrad by 2nd year you would be able to read any text in mathematics. Trust me, when people describe someone as "good at maths" usually the person in question does not have this skill. Majority in my masters didn't, most did risk jobs and wouldn't have the ability to do quant. Funnily the best thesis I saw was from someone self read enough that, even though classmates from his physics undergrad program were struggling with reading basic notation, he had no problems.All relevant skills on the job. (notice none were client facing skills). Yes, I agree that the PhD guy could do things better, ie being the forefront in a specific area. However, being in this industry for a couple of years, I can safely say that with graduate level math classes and two weeks of reading, I can actually understand some of the academic research in financial markets out there. (that's exactly my profile).
Given that you will have to look at quant research papers to do your work as a quant this is invaluable, and there are other skills aswell e.g. understanding of market structure. As I was once crassly told, quant finance isn't "just calculating".
The whole PhD thing comes down to generalisms - it is a generalisation to say that the Harvard undergrad you described (while a good pick) is rare and that there are enough PhD grads that will have read enough to understand finance (some Imperial PhDs require it). But for recruiters and employers this generalism is close enough (Dominic Connor on Willmot.com is a good point of reference on this topic as he's ex quant and now recruits) that they often run by it. Solution? If you really are that good, but not have the "traditional" quant background, do something a little better than just ringing up employers on spec to get around this. Who knows what this is - focussed thesis brought out into CV, or even internships or even a BA grad publishing papers that will look good on the CV?