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Types of quant job which are available? (Ad's I have seen do not seem to fit what I've read here)

Hi there,

I am graduating from Imperial College in a few weeks with a Physics MSc, after some soul searching and google trawling I have decided to go for a career in finance.

I have long heard that it's possible to get graduate jobs in finance with a physics degree, and indeed I have found ad's such as:

"Highly intelligent, enthusiastic Junior / Graduate Quant Analyst sought to join technology focussed Hedge Fund based in Central London. This is a technology driven e-trading firm using the interaction of complex mathematical models.... Requirements: Excellent academic record - good A-Levels combined with a minimum 2.1 at degree level from a top tier university (Russell Group) in a numerate or computing related subject. Some experience with an object orientated programming language (OO, C#, C++). Ability to apply mathematical concepts to real world financial problems and to implement theoretical insights as working code* Analytical mindset, enjoy problem solving."

Most of the ad's I have come across are similar - essentially if you have got a good mind for maths/problem solving, then apply!

But then I discovered this website, which seems to imply that I won't have a hope in hell of getting a job such as this without reading a dozen books and studying my ass off (i.e. doing an MFE).

Could someone enlighten me? Is it because I am in London, is the situation different here? Or do the ad's simply not betray the intense requirements for these sorts of jobs?

Obviously I need to study but seeing as I am graduating in a two weeks I am going to need to get a job in the next month or two, so what I am really asking is do you imagine I can learn enough to have a shot at these places in a month with a physics degree as a starting point?

Thanks,
Richard.
 
It costs nothing to apply.

If a company feels you are qualified they will interview you.

If you are hired, does it matter?

I've always been of the mindset that if you want something bad enough, you can always find a way of attaining it.

Are you looking for a confidence boost or an excuse to pursue another masters degree?
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
Richard, there are probably about 100 quant finance programs out there. All have highly numerate people enrolled. You're competing against them. At a minimum, you need to accumulate the institutional knowledge of the space to have a chance. You'll also have to demonstrate that your decision to pursue a career in finance has been carefully considered. One month sounds like a very short time.
 
"confidence boost"?

Everyone on this forum seems to be well informed, so it would be nice to get some advice on what sort of preparation should be required or whether the ad's I have come across are likely to be bull and hence I should look into a different career path, at least until I can do another Masters.

I feel confused, I thought "ah, this is something I should definitely go for". Then I found this place (which like I said before seems to be well informed) and am now wondering whether I have been naive. I do not want to spend a month prepping for jobs I am unlikely to get, as I will obviously not know if I am going to get a place until after I have wasted a month preparing! A month which I cannot afford to waste, I need to pay the rent!

I am not one to half arse things. I do not want to waste my time on something which is unfeasible in the short term.
 
Richard, there are probably about 100 quant finance programs out there. All have highly numerate people enrolled. You're competing against them. At a minimum, you need to accumulate the institutional knowledge of the space to have a chance. You'll also have to demonstrate that your decision to pursue a career in finance has been carefully considered. One month sounds like a very short time.

Makes sense.

I am trying to get a feel for the mind set of these employers. I am certainly very interested, but alas I may have realised a little too late!
 
"confidence boost"?

You have provided little background beyond being a week away from graduationg with an Msc in Physics from Imperial.

Careers in finance can be quite broad in terms of both breadth and scope.

Insight into your research, outside projects, courses taken as well as mathematics and programming background and of course what area of finance you are looking to enter and in what capacity would be a better starting point.

But then I discovered this website, which seems to imply that I won't have a hope in hell of getting a job such as this without reading a dozen books and studying my ass off (i.e. doing an MFE).

I believe I gave you my opinion on this.

Those who know me and my background would consider my statement to be a testament of fact (or fortitude? or stubbornness?) but ymmv, of course.

I do not want to spend a month prepping for jobs I am unlikely to get, as I will obviously not know if I am going to get a place until after I have wasted a month preparing! A month which I cannot afford to waste, I need to pay the rent!

Risk and reward are directly proportional (generally). You may have answered your own question here.
 
I am trying to get a feel for the mind set of these employers. I am certainly very interested, but alas I may have realised a little too late!
He is one of the employers. One month is not going to be even close enough. Do you know programming well enough to hit the ground running? C++/SQL/VBA/Excel/C#/Matlab, any of them?
Can you answer the brainteasers from the interview books in our master reading list? Can you tell the difference between sell-side/buy-side and different type of major employers/financial products?

Job postings certainly make people hopeful that they are the ideal candidates but most of the time, the jobs are not real and real positions are not exactly as advertised. They are designed to cast as wide a net as possible to harvest resumes.

In any case, being able to get a finance job one month after first discovering the field is pretty unusual (impossible most likely). If anything, London is a much harder place to break in than NYC from what I've told.

If you still insist to break in, you have all the resources you can read up and prepare. Allow up to 6 months preparation to be at a ready stage. The financial job market right now is not exactly busting at the seams and it may take more than time to get your first job.

Use the networks from your school. That should be your first and best chance to break in.
 
Everyone on this forum seems to be well informed, so it would be nice to get some advice on what sort of preparation should be required or whether the ad's I have come across are likely to be bull and hence I should look into a different career path, at least until I can do another Masters.

You can apply to a few of these and see what kind of response you get. My feeling is that the ad you cited initially looks dodgy: either it's an agency trawling for resumes or if it is authentic, they will get scores, maybe hundreds, of applications, most of which will receive at most a cursory glance before being binned -- and from candidates who will often have more relevant credentials than yours. Still, apply and see. Maybe you'll strike gold. That ad would have been more credible ten years ago ....
 
You have provided little background beyond being a week away from graduationg with an Msc in Physics from Imperial.

Careers in finance can be quite broad in terms of both breadth and scope.

Insight into your research, outside projects, courses taken as well as mathematics and programming background and of course what area of finance you are looking to enter and in what capacity would be a better starting point.

I believe I gave you my opinion here.

Those who know me and my background would consider my statement to be a testament of fact (or fortitude?) but ymmv, of course.

Interesting, I did not think that 'Quant' was a particularly broad term, personally algorithmic trading is what has taken my fancy, though I know little about it.

I also did not think that my background in physics mattered particularly for my "general chances", seeing as in my experience physicists tend to have very similar mathematical tool sets, what differentiates them is their specialisations within physics, rather than mathematical knowledge.

In my case I know a more linear algebra than the average physics graduate as I have specialised in quantum mechanics, which is what my BSc thesis was all about. This year my thesis involved modelling the evolution of social networks using monte carlo simulations. Programming wise I have experience of Python, C++, Mathematica and Matlab (in descending order of proficiency).

Does any of that information make a difference one way or the other?

I was expecting to be told that I need to have x knowledge of finance, not to be asked about physics!

Thanks,
Richard.
 
You can apply to a few of these and see what kind of response you get. My feeling is that the ad you cited initially looks dodgy: either it's an agency trawling for resumes or if it is authentic, they will get scores, maybe hundreds, of applications, most of which will receive at most a cursory glance before being binned -- and from candidates who will often have more relevant credentials than yours. Still, apply and see. Maybe you'll strike gold. That ad would have been more credible ten years ago ....

Interesting, thanks.

Why the difference 10 years ago?
 
He is one of the employers. One month is not going to be even close enough. Do you know programming well enough to hit the ground running? C++/SQL/VBA/Excel/C#/Matlab, any of them?
Can you answer the brainteasers from the interview books in our master reading list? Can you tell the difference between sell-side/buy-side and different type of major employers/financial products?

Job postings certainly make people hopeful that they are the ideal candidates but most of the time, the jobs are not real and real positions are not exactly as advertised. They are designed to cast as wide a net as possible to harvest resumes.

In any case, being able to get a finance job one month after first discovering the field is pretty unusual (impossible most likely). If anything, London is a much harder place to break in than NYC from what I've told.

If you still insist to break in, you have all the resources you can read up and prepare. Allow up to 6 months preparation to be at a ready stage. The financial job market right now is not exactly busting at the seams and it may take more than time to get your first job.

Use the networks from your school. That should be your first and best chance to break in.

Great. Duly noted. Seems like I will certainly need to make this more of a long term goal then!
 
Interesting, thanks.

Why the difference 10 years ago?

There were fewer MFE programs around (I think there were maybe seven in the USA). Whereas now every major university in the US and UK is busy churning 'em out. Consequently people with master's and doctor's degrees in physics and math who also had some programming experience were often hired and then trained; today there's less incentive to do that with so many MFEs on the market. Secondly, the industry wasn't in the nervous and uncertain state it's in today. As Mark Joshi recently wrote in his updated version of how to get a quant job, very few places are hiring right now. So it's a case of "many are called but few are chosen."
 
If you haven't already come across it, Joshi's Quant guide is a good starting point to broadly familiarize yourself with
the different quant paths. It was recently updated and now give more current insight into the current market.

www.markjoshi.com/downloads/advice.pdf

As for interview preparation, Crack's book

http://www.amazon.com/Heard-Street-Quantitative-Questions-Interviews/dp/0970055277/

and Joshi's book

http://www.amazon.com/Quant-Job-Interview-Questions-Answers/dp/143821703X/

tend to be the most popular.

That said, on Friday a coworker lamented that they needed to come up with new interview questions as every MFE interviewed was not only familiar with the questions contained but had also memorized the solutions and alternative variations verbatim.
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
There were fewer MFE programs around (I think there were maybe seven in the USA). Whereas now every major university in the US and UK is busy churning 'em out. Consequently people with master's and doctor's degrees in physics and math who also had some programming experience were often hired and then trained; today there's less incentive to do that with so many MFEs on the market. Secondly, the industry wasn't in the nervous and uncertain state it's in today. As Mark Joshi recently wrote in his updated version of how to get a quant job, very few places are hiring right now. So it's a case of "many are called but few are chosen."

I think (know, actually) that there are a lot more quant-oriented jobs out there than many think there are. A major problem I've seen on this forum is that everyone wants to do algorithmic trading or front-office model development. How many jobs do you think there are in those areas? Not all that many I would guess. There are, however, lots of quant-oriented positions out there. Some are what we call quant-lite, meaning that you won't be using real analysis or FFT, but will be using lots of basic math and stat skills. The problem (if it is a problem) is that these jobs are in less glamorous areas. If that turns people off, they'd probably reconsider being financial quants. To me, it seem like many quant-a-be's are like actors who go to Hollywood only interested in starring roles. Those people don't realize that there are many, many supporting roles to be had in areas like risk management, model review, portfolio review and reporting, audit, and financial control. I know for a fact that some of those jobs remain unfilled for long periods of time.

People would be wise to worry more about getting a foot in the door and less about exactly where they end up.
 
I think (know, actually) that there are a lot more quant-oriented jobs out there than many think there are. A major problem I've seen on this forum is that everyone wants to do algorithmic trading or front-office model development. How many jobs do you think there are in those areas? Not all that many I would guess. There are, however, lots of quant-oriented positions out there. Some are what we call quant-lite, meaning that you won't be using real analysis or FFT, but will be using lots of basic math and stat skills. The problem (if it is a problem) is that these jobs are in less glamorous areas. If that turns people off, they'd probably reconsider being financial quants. To me, it seem like many quant-a-be's are like actors who go to Hollywood only interested in starring roles. Those people don't realize that there are many, many supporting roles to be had in areas like risk management, model review, portfolio review and reporting, audit, and financial control. I know for a fact that some of those jobs remain unfilled for long periods of time.

People would be wise to worry more about getting a foot in the door and less about exactly where they end up.

I see.

What attracts me about being a quant is mostly the interesting physics behind the problem, plus an over arching curiosity about the economy.

I only realised recently because in the latter stages of my project I have been investigating a state of self-organising criticality which appears to be present in the model we developed. I've loved working on this and, theoretically at least, being a quant involves similar physics and processes. To me it sounds like doing research - but being payed!

Could you recommend any quant-lite roles that would involve some of the interesting physics?

Thanks again.
 
I seem to see a lot of physics guys in model review, although that's certainly not quant-lite.

Could you expand on that?

You mentioned that it was a supporting role, but if it is not quant-lite does that imply that it would be difficult to progress from model reviewer to quant?

Thanks again, you appear to be on this forum 24 hours a day!
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
Model reviewers are quants, in every sense of the word. They're not front-office quants, but they interact constantly with the desk. Some of the best quants I know are model reviewers.

I'm not on 24/7, but I frequent this forum to take the temperature of the the applicant pool and, occasionally, to offer up opinions. I also use it to post documents for one of the courses I teach. Andy has done a very nice job creating a high value-added site.
 
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