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Work vs. PhD

Hello everyone! I am a student in Msc Risk Management and Financial Engineering of Imperial College London. I also have a Bsc in Finance. After the first term in London, I realized that the application process for investment banks is not so easy as I thought before the Master. I didn't get even an interview even though I applied to over 30 firms(mostly banks). And this is true for many other guys from my master. I am interested in derivatives pricing as I love stochastic calculus, pde, etc. Now I start thinking about a phd in a relative topic but I am not sure about it. I mean that I cannot imagine myself as a professor, I am not interested in an academic career. I just want to do what I love and if I cannot find it in a job, then the phd is the alternative option. My question is: does it worth to spend 4 years in a phd while I want just to work as a derivatives pricing quant? Is the phd really useful for this job? Is it better to find an irrelevant job probably in a small firm and then try to make the transition to the derivatives?
Just to note that I like very much the idea of the research in a phd but I am not interested in an academic career.
  • does it worth to spend 4 years in a phd while I want just to work as a derivatives pricing quant?
    Not worth it. Opportunity cost of a PhD is HUGE.
  • Is the phd really useful for this job?
    No, it's not. Well actually it maybe but given the question above it's not worth it.
  • Is it better to find an irrelevant job probably in a small firm and then try to make the transition to the derivatives?
    You must start somewhere right? and you'll be able to figure things out from there.
  • Just to note that I like very much the idea of the research in a phd but I am not interested in an academic career.
    Most PhD graduates do not go into academia, perhaps you should look into what PhD graduates end up doing before you jump the gun?
Imperial Msc Risk Management and Financial Engineering is one of their cash cows right? how divorced is it from their Mathematics and Finance Msc ? (see MSc Mathematics and Finance )
 
I also feel like doing a PhD but I would recommend maybe working first and then seeing if you really need it. I don’t want to do it for career, but rather just personal reason. Not sure and have been contemplating for a while
 
I am in the same camp as @Michsund . Although I originally wanted to do a PhD to begin with but for many reasons it did not happen. I am working for a Pension Fund as an Research Analyst but I still want to do a PhD for personal reasons. It's something that I intimately know if I don't do in my life I will regret. This goes beyond career incentives. I mean, sure, with a PhD, depending on the field, and the school, academic positions may be possible, but the opportunity to become a deep expert in a field, and push a research agenda in a particular direction, networking with people who are interested in research questions, bring in practitioners insight, yeah all that stuff would make the PhD worth it for me. This is not something which can be easily done while working in industry, at least not in the US.
 
I can relate to both @Michsund and @TehRaio, I'm somewhat interested in eventually doing a PhD just for personal satisfaction, perhaps in applied maths or something leaning towards CS/ML, but I'm not ready to take the plunge yet. It may or may not happen, and even if it does, I have no idea when (for now at least).

I also agree that you should consider working first for a couple of years, that'll give you some experience and skills that you'd probably appreciate later on, and give you some time to think about what you actually want to do. If you're only in it for the money, it might be tough to justify 4-5 years of income loss (and the opportunity cost of potential career progressions if you had gone straight to the workforce, 4-5 years is a long time and if you do well in the industry you can get quite far in that time). Also, if you're not really interested in your field of study, I imagine persevering for such a long time to finish your degree wouldn't be fun.
 
I am sorry if that might sounds too straighforward or harsh, but based on your description I don’t think PhD is for you. You don’t like research, you don’t have a deep desire to become a narrative-shifting expert in the field, you have no interest for teaching.
I am a quant in a top HFT firm and I don’t have a PhD. While many of my friends pursued it in top US schools (good half dropped out already), I decided that doing research and building career in academia are two different things and opted out. You absolutely can become a quant at a top hedge fund without doctorate, making a switch after a couple of years on sell-side is very possible as well. You have a great undergraduate degree and it will serve you well. One of my colleagues did exactly that.
 
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