What are my perspectives with this experience and this motivation?

About myself
I'm 30 yo. PhD in mathematics from a UK university(a good one, but nothing too fancy). The last few years or so happened to work with different aspects of ML - computer vision and NLP. Obviously, used python/matlab as my primary language almost all the time. I study a lot during out of office hours and completed a few somewhat advanced courses on C++ because I was interested. I would looking for something in London

I do not have any advanced knowledge of statistic(all the knowledge I have is from a few courses I took online and some knowledge I acquired from studying ML), however this could be compensated well with learning, I guess that is fine.
I do not have any economics-related education.
I would obviously have to grind through the interview books and leetcode quite a lot.

My motivation
I have a few motivations, there is kind of no prevalent one, and they all contribute somewhat equally. Without any order:
  • I want some challenge at work. I'm kinda tired of places and projects where you can achieve very little during the day and it is still going to be comparable with what everyone else was doing, it is still going to be an ok amount of work done. Please, don't get me wrong: I do not think I've always worked better every single of my peers, but the work conditions were that no one required much from any of us.
  • Whenever I think of what hobby I have, I can't find any good answer. However, when I look at what I really enjoy doing, it turns out that that would reading about economics. I read books about structured credit for fun, because I find it amazing what people can package together. I get most enjoyment from reading about financial crises.
  • In my mind(feel free so sober me brutally here), working in bank/hedge funds is good in a way that either what you do can be profited from, or it can not. It's pure energy, so to say. Impact is very measurable. You are probably very unlikely to get set with vague OKRs for the next quarter where you would be thinking how you would have to justify your activity so that it could remotely help some vague OKR.

  1. Is too late for me to get into quants field? From reading this forum for quite some time, it seems like there is rarely such a thing as "too late". Is that right?
  2. Are there dedicated divisions in banks/hedge funds that manage risks? I think with me always trying to predict and prepare for the worst, that would be a good place to be in.:D Is pay bad there?
  3. Say, If I do not grind for statistics and economics, what position could I get or should I search for in banks/hedge funds?
  4. I understand that everyone has a different definition of being a genius, but are all quants in big firms geniuses?
  5. Are my motivations ok for this kind of job, or am I being too naive and idealistic?

I hope I've provided enough details, but please let me know I missed something.
I can provide some perspective for 1, 2, and 4, and 5

1. It's only too late when you don't think it's worth the effort. Truthfully, I can't answer what the path towards getting a job like this looks like for you, but I'm sure there is one. And worst case scenario, I bet you could get into a good financial engineering program, which I think are good (if expensive!) ways to improve your skills and get in.

2. I think most financial institutions do. They're decent positions that tend to pay OK but aren't very "sexy." Be discerning though: there's a big difference between "compliance" style risk and "research" style risk (my own terms but basically if you're looking at new models its probably research style.

4. Nope. Some are. I'll even go ahead and say that, in the absence of tremendous luck on your part, you have to be smart to get a role like that, but you definitely don't have to be "finished PhD at age 17 level" or whatever. At the end of the day it's a job, and being smart isn't the only qualification

5. I don't think in risk roles the "what you do can be profited from or can't" thing is true; most are considered necessary expenditures. I don't have much experience outside of that but I think that for all but the most pure traders there's going to be some extra BS associated with it
Hello kgrio, my current predicament is similar to yours. I am a few years older than you and I have a PhD in comp. mechanics from a Russell group university.
Given my background I am more aiming at a quant developer job, so I am not that familiar with machine learning.
Other than this, I am guessing we are looking for the same thing: a job in quantitative finance, without having to go to school again.
If you so wish, it could be helpful to compare our respective study plans, experiences with interviews etc.