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Why do you want to become a MFE?

Why do you want to become a MFE?

And why has the MFE-programs attracted so many asians (indians and chinese), do the american (white) students got a lack of mathematical skills or are they just not interested of MFE as much as asians?
 

SteveTownsend

Active Member
Why do you want to become a MFE?

And why has the MFE-programs attracted so many asians (indians and chinese), do the american (white) students got a lack of mathematical skills or are they just not interested of MFE as much as asians?
I am a professional programmer of 20 years standing who did my undergrad degree in mathematics, and moved from Microsoft to NYC three years ago to switch fields. The move was for three reasons:

1. The programming work is more interesting and challenging when you add in the finance and math elements. I could not see myself doing Windows systems programming for another 20 years without some added degree of difficulty/interest.

2. I expect to make a bigger and more stable income by combining the three elements (programming, math, finance) than just as a programmer. So far this is working out well, but there is a continual need to stay in an area where your job cannot be sent somewhere cheaper. Any company can hire 5-10 programmers offshore for the price of keeping one in NYC.

3. I wanted to be closer to the customer. This used to be possible at Microsoft but over the past 7-8 years, many layers were introduced to isolate programmers from such annoying distractions.

I don't agree with your statement about racial mix in the programs. The Baruch class I entered (Fall 2007) has a mix of many different ethnicities. I am interested in what empirical evidence you can provide to support your axiom that there are more Indians and Chinese in these programs (which ones?). Remember many of those non-white students are more American than I am, even though I'm a multi-generational W.A.S.P.
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
I have a feeling that part of the answer to this question is that schools in China, India, Russia, and Ukraine (that you did not mention) are very good in terms of mathematics and computer science. So applicants from the above countries are very competitive. And I can add that, in general, an average US student does not know as much math as students from China, India, Russia, and Ukraine. For example, Calculus is taught to 15-16 year olds in high schools in Russia, but it is usually a 1st year math class in the US. The same applies to other sciences like Physics and Chemistry.

In addition, what other professions do we have in the US? We need doctors, lawyers, business owners, politicians, and other people with non-quantitative skills. To get into these, you need strong verbal skills which not many applicants from China, India, Russia, and Ukraine have. So they go to study quantitative subjects like math, statistics, computer science, engineering etc.
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
1. The programming work is more interesting and challenging when you add in the finance and math elements. I could not see myself doing Windows systems programming for another 20 years without some added degree of difficulty/interest.
Steve, were you the one behind Windows 95/98 etc? :D
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
Actually, there are many international students in the US. It is just the US are open to students from all over the world. So we can even think in terms of world population proportions :) When I was in Florida doing statistics, we had 1 person from Chile, 1 from Mexico, 1 from Philippines, 2 from Romania, 1 from Turkey, 2 from Ukraine, 1 from Russia, 5 from the US, 10 from China, 5 from India, 1 from South Africa, 1 from Cyprus, 2 from Greece. But thats how the world population is distributed :)
 
I would say my reason for MFE is both for the exciting job and also for the fat salary of 10-30 000 $/month. I got some friends that earn as much on being dentists in UK but I prefer to work with peoples money than with peoples teeth.
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
In my case, FE is an area where I can use my quantitative skills and do something useful.

20 or so years ago I would want to be an Operations Researcher or a Statistician :) Actually, I am one, but with applications towards FE. Its just 20 years ago I would be definitely working either in Airline industry or Insurance.
 

Dmytro

Well-Known Member
when talking about interest, and attracting students, i think we need to differentiate between those who apply and those admitted. i would suspect the stats start with a broader spectrum to a narrower one. only the best (or, per Darwin, the fittest) will remain ;]

also, i think since Baruch is not that well known internationally - yet - the share of international applicants/students is smaller than that of the usual suspects (e.g. Columbia).

to answer the first question about why FE, i would say because the MFE degree offers more flexibility than one in pure math or cs, but at the same time is much deeper and bs-free than Ms in Finance or MBA.
 

kean

Mathematics Student
You can make a lot of money without doing a MFE. It depends on your passion.

I consider MFE is a very challenging program. Also, I love maths and computing stuff. Money is secondary.
 
Steve, what areas of computer knowledge would you recommend prospective MFEs to focus on to be prepared? I mean programming languages, databases, developer tools, statistical tools etcetra.
 

SteveTownsend

Active Member
Steve, what areas of computer knowledge would you recommend prospective MFEs to focus on to be prepared? I mean programming languages, databases, developer tools, statistical tools etcetra.
That's a tough one. Baruch's program is heavily C++-focused, other programs use Excel/VBA (Baruch also but not as much), Matlab (not allowed at Baruch). Also hard for me to answer since I'm working close to a quant-heavy business (FI Derivatives sales and research) but still in an IT role, so I live, eat and breathe C++ without being a quant in any way.

The impression I have is that the combination of good C++ and good mathematics with finance knowledge is very lucrative, offering a number of different paths forward to more quantitative roles. However, I am sure plenty of other people make an excellent living using only Excel/VBA, Matlab, SLANG, SAS, R, Mathematica, and so on. For me the path of least resistance is C++/C# since I have been working in Windows for 17 years.

I think the most important thing is not learning any particular language or database, but really becoming confident in your ability to provide effective solutions to business problems using the most appropriate technology.
 

kapil354

Active Member
You can make a lot of money without doing a MFE. It depends on your passion.

I consider MFE is a very challenging program. Also, I love maths and computing stuff. Money is secondary.
I agree 99 perc.

But,if even after working for 2-3 years 'passion' remains evasive. What will you do? Jump into something which everyone is trying to take a bite of. So I believe many including myself try for an FE caz of being direction less. These are good people in search of what they really want to do?

Kapil
 

kean

Mathematics Student
this

I think most people jump into the FE bandwagon now is because of the remuneration package or hoping to become a trader one day...sounds very sexy isn't it? Please forgive my ignorance. Some people do love maths and found this type of job suites them.

I came from IT consulting. I got to know FE or financial maths or quantitative finance from my best friend who works as a quant in a bank. He told me that I could crossover to finance without abandoning my IT skills.

I started my stats course and I immediately fell in love with it. Frankly speaking, we can always make money from the stock markets with prudence trading strategies. Option pricing is a big boy game. Each trading strategy derived from option pricing plus other financial instruments required millions to execute the orders. Unless, you are Bill Gates or your dad has a bank for your loan the sum otherwise you can't afford to play this game.

Quant is a pro-job. However, you may develop your own hedge fund later with some good connections, or help from angels..private equity and so on.

Nevertheless, passion is something we develop over the time. It can't fade away unless this is not a real passion. Again, if you are good at something in a particular field...and you possess great entrepreneurship. I think you can make money in this chosen field.

I have a millionaire friend who is a high school dropout. So, what is he made of? No FE, No IT, No MBA but MBAs work for him...CPA and CFA works for him!

I may be wrong. Perhaps Pro like Gus, Steve or Alain in this forum can help.

Cheers,
K

I agree 99 perc.

But,if even after working for 2-3 years 'passion' remains evasive. What will you do? Jump into something which everyone is trying to take a bite of. So I believe many including myself try for an FE caz of being direction less. These are good people in search of what they really want to do?

Kapil
 

SteveTownsend

Active Member
I think most people jump into the FE bandwagon now is because of the remuneration package or hoping to become a trader one day...sounds very sexy isn't it? Please forgive my ignorance. Some people do love maths and found this type of job suites them.

I came from IT consulting. I got to know FE or financial maths or quantitative finance from my best friend who works as a quant in a bank. He told me that I could crossover to finance without abandoning my IT skills.

I started my stats course and I immediately fell in love with it. Frankly speaking, we can always make money from the stock markets with prudence trading strategies. Option pricing is a big boy game. Each trading strategy derived from option pricing plus other financial instruments required millions to execute the orders. Unless, you are Bill Gates or your dad has a bank for your loan the sum otherwise you can't afford to play this game.

Quant is a pro-job. However, you may develop your own hedge fund later with some good connections, or help from angels..private equity and so on.

Nevertheless, passion is something we develop over the time. It can't fade away unless this is not a real passion. Again, if you are good at something in a particular field...and you possess great entrepreneurship. I think you can make money in this chosen field.

I have a millionaire friend who is a high school dropout. So, what is he made of? No FE, No IT, No MBA but MBAs work for him...CPA and CFA works for him!

I may be wrong. Perhaps Pro like Gus, Steve or Alain in this forum can help.

Cheers,
K
There is definitely a "gold rush" mentality into the field. You can see this in the number of students asking "can I become a quant?" on these boards as well the number of new MFE and related programs that spring up each school year.

It's a bit ironic that this trend has reached a crescendo just as many of the newer structures and models are being found severely lacking under even moderately adverse market conditions.

I console myself with two thoughts:
  • I can always stay in IT if there is a serious backlash and/or oversupply of candidates. I don't hate what I'm doing now (which is never a good reason to move, anyway).
  • It's possible if not likely imo that the resulting trend will be towards refinement and improvement of models, rather than junking them. Complex derivative and structured instruments have to be valued somehow, after all - liquid market or not. Top-quality candidates will therefore command a similar or higher premium to now, even if overall supply expands.
Now I just have to become a "top-quality candidate" ;-)
 

kean

Mathematics Student
Trend

I agreed with you. I could recall in the old day people were rushing into SAP field because of the money. At one stage, the demand > supply even a super user can become a SAP consultant. However, the supply and demand will reach an equilibrium level, meaning is market correction by itself. So, the good people always stay. Those tend to know a little bit with a SAP certification will leave.
My observation is that the MFE is truly suitable for someone who has a very strong maths background. I may be wrong. However, I do not believe a year of two MFE (I do not cite any program in this aspect. Baruch is definitely a superior program) program can equip one with enough knowledge to develop models.
Also, I believe one may be graduated with a MFE degree but how much does this person left in his or her head if one without sufficient knowledge or understanding about theory of maths and stats which required in this field.
Again, I know some smart people can easily transform themselves into another field.

Cheers,
K

There is definitely a "gold rush" mentality into the field. You can see this in the number of students asking "can I become a quant?" on these boards as well the number of new MFE and related programs that spring up each school year.

It's a bit ironic that this trend has reached a crescendo just as many of the newer structures and models are being found severely lacking under even moderately adverse market conditions.

I console myself with two thoughts:
  • I can always stay in IT if there is a serious backlash and/or oversupply of candidates. I don't hate what I'm doing now (which is never a good reason to move, anyway).
  • It's possible if not likely imo that the resulting trend will be towards refinement and improvement of models, rather than junking them. Complex derivative and structured instruments have to be valued somehow, after all - liquid market or not. Top-quality candidates will therefore command a similar or higher premium to now, even if overall supply expands.
Now I just have to become a "top-quality candidate" ;-)
 

kapil354

Active Member
Thanks guys for some very valuable points.
I am not too sure if my point is in sync with the Thread heading. But I will make it.

I believe education is just a 'risk averse' way of money making. As some one down below told story of a millionaire w/o any education. Such cases exist in every market. Caz these are the guys who don't do 'risk-valuations' but they take risks themselves.

That said. A very important point from the Indian/Chinese perspective - [as a brief - i am an IIT grad and an Analyst with Fidelity Invsts] - People want to participate in gold rush - You know WHY? because in our nations we still are fighting for the very basic needs in life. The last bloack in Maslow's pyramid drives most of us in the gold rush.

Some said market corrections. Very true. But smart are the guys who pick it up before valuations peak and smart are the guys who sell them before the fall. I think for myself I am late by 2 years. Gold rush now is out in the open. Most of the people know it. I am just better off in knowing that 'I will get it'. Smart are the people who got into it and will move just when demand < supply.
 

kean

Mathematics Student
Wellllll

Since you are late for two years. By the time you finish your course may be too late for your GOLD RUSH!

What about other subjects hot again in two years time....you chase for another qualification so you end up keep studying as a ProFESSional Student.

I don't agree that businessmen (those w/o education) will not do risk valuation. Frankly speaking, they are more sensitive about money than most educated persons. Again, they can hire someone who has MFE, MBA, CPA, CFA to work for them.

Smart =/= Paper Qualification. Street smart is how they make money. They dare to take calculated risk and they take risk may better than anyone with qualification because they have guts to taste failure.

Even Warren Buffet used to make a remark in his speech that it is impossible to buy low and sell high. In mathematical terms (quoted from a friend in this forum), there are only one absolute maximum and one absolute minimum. However, there are so many local maximum and local minimum along the way. What is your probability to catch the inflection point or to reach the absolute maximum when the absolute maximum is actually an end point....well keep studying, may be! My 1 cent.

Keep it up your spiritual gold rush.....RUSH HOUR $!

Cheers,
K

Thanks guys for some very valuable points.
I am not too sure if my point is in sync with the Thread heading. But I will make it.

I believe education is just a 'risk averse' way of money making. As some one down below told story of a millionaire w/o any education. Such cases exist in every market. Caz these are the guys who don't do 'risk-valuations' but they take risks themselves.

That said. A very important point from the Indian/Chinese perspective - [as a brief - i am an IIT grad and an Analyst with Fidelity Invsts] - People want to participate in gold rush - You know WHY? because in our nations we still are fighting for the very basic needs in life. The last bloack in Maslow's pyramid drives most of us in the gold rush.

Some said market corrections. Very true. But smart are the guys who pick it up before valuations peak and smart are the guys who sell them before the fall. I think for myself I am late by 2 years. Gold rush now is out in the open. Most of the people know it. I am just better off in knowing that 'I will get it'. Smart are the people who got into it and will move just when demand < supply.
 
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