What does Quants do in later career?

phx

New Member
Hello Forums, what do quants do in their later career? For roles such as quant research, or quant trading, what do they do after the first couple of years? Is there a lot of opportunities moving to management roles? Any insights would be helpful!
 

phx

New Member
Some senior quants go on to manage quant functions like model validation and forecasting. Others move into risk management, either as desk coverage people, or as risk methodology people. Still others over to the buy side.
Thanks for your reply. Would you say the salary progression would be less steep compared to traditional finance or trading since most people move to risk management and those are middle-office roles?
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
Thanks for your reply. Would you say the salary progression would be less steep compared to traditional finance or trading since most people move to risk management and those are middle-office roles?
“Steep” isn’t the right word. After a certain point, “gentle incline, subject to sharp drop-offs” is more applicable. At big institutions, what distinguishes one quant form another is a) the ability to manage other quants, when chnisnusually dependent upon b) the ability to communicate effectively.
 

phx

New Member
“Steep” isn’t the right word. After a certain point, “gentle incline, subject to sharp drop-offs” is more applicable. At big institutions, what distinguishes one quant form another is a) the ability to manage other quants, when chnisnusually dependent upon b) the ability to communicate effectively.
Thanks! Your insights are very helpful!
 

Liam

Member
Hello Forums, what do quants do in their later career? For roles such as quant research, or quant trading, what do they do after the first couple of years? Is there a lot of opportunities moving to management roles? Any insights would be helpful!
Assuming you stay a quant, Ken's advice is pretty spot on.

There was a thread a while back on Wilmott about why many quants never had a career beyond 5-10 years.

Mostly I'd say communication skills being weak is a factor. Many senior quants haven't run a technical analysis in years and even if you do, you're at a point in your career where managing people and/or networking have gone up in importance. There's also other stuff that drives people out like getting disillusioned, getting screwed over by a restructure and winding up in a non-quant role for too long etc etc but these issues aren't as common.

Ultimately most competent quants that I know that left or got moved out of quant finance landed on their feet. Many are in data roles or more general programming roles. How they did always came back to communication skills. One ex quant I knew around 2005, for instance, started running an ISP from 2005 to 2011, then sold up and became a CTO, in addition to using a cursory amount of his IT/programming skills from his quant days both roles require good communication skills.

Whatever your path, get started early with communication skills training. Toastmasters is a good start and will help with the basics and confidence, but when it comes to communicating technical concepts to a non-technical audience it's not enough. It's more a generalist communication skills training programme than anything.

You will need a mentor with experience in your sector. Hard to find this, but the problem is that presenting to Joe/Jane Bloggs (Toastmasters) is vastly different from presenting the same thing to an investor with no technical background. For one thing, Joe/Jane Bloggs won't be able to tell a good elevator pitch from a shitty, overly technical description of what you do.

But a good mentor will know exactly what speaks effectively to any investor and can beat you into shape. Thing is an investor or senior manager might not be technical or enumerate, but they will understand your services from a business perspective and be much sharper than a Toastmasters audience or life coach, so bullshit and general communication skills won't be enough. This is where the mentoring comes in. And a good mentor will also be a good guide as to your career eg when to develop technically, when to focus in terms of business acumen, when to focus on personal development skills etc. Again, hard to find even if your network is deep, but worth it.
 
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