How Often Do Masters Programs Give Funding Math Statistics Reddit How to Get a Job in Quantitative Finance

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How to Get a Job in Quantitative Finance

A career in quantitative finance can be very rewarding both intellectually and financially. However, competition is fierce for positions within hedge funds and investment banks. Having straight As and a top science degree is no longer enough, especially since the downsizing of the industry that followed the economic crisis of 2007/2008. So what qualities should a good candidate possess and what can you do to land this challenging role as a quantitative analyst?

The term “quant” covers a wide spectrum of roles. Areas such as quantitative trading, quantitative research, risk management, derivatives pricing, and numerical software development fit the deadline. So the first step is to identify your core skill set. Once you know where your skills lie, you’ll be in a much better position to apply for the right type of role. Currently, investment banks are hiring less, while private equity funds are hiring more. Hence, there is a shift in the pricing of derivatives (due to the backlash on mortgage-backed securities models) towards statistical trading methods.

There are three main entry routes into quantitative finance. The most traditional method is to obtain a PhD in Mathematics, Physics, Engineering or Computer Science. Useful research areas include probability, statistics, stochastic calculus, machine learning/pattern recognition, and of course mathematical finance. A PhD program lets the employer know that they are confident in researching material independently and do not require “spoon feeding”. This is especially important in some of the research-driven “collegial” environments of top-tier hedge funds.

The second, and more recent, route to quantitative finance is through a Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) program. These courses are usually taken by people who may not have specific numerical skills in the financial area, but who nevertheless have mathematical confidence. They are especially suitable for people who want to make a career change. A good MFE program at a top school will prepare the student in areas such as derivatives, probability/stochastic calculus, risk management, and programming (probably C++). Teachers will have good connections with companies looking to hire, and the network alone can be worth the high fees (often over $50,000).

The third route is best suited for talented software developers, especially those with advanced object-oriented experience, preferably C++ or Java. These “quantitative developers” will work closely with the quantitative analysts to implement the models (often a prototype) in a robust and optimized way. The skills required can be varied in nature. A high-frequency trading fund may require a low-level operating system and concurrency skills, while a systematic pattern recognition firm may be interested in your machine learning talents. However, one thing is certain: programming skills are fast becoming the differentiating factor in interviews, so the better your C++/Java/Python/Matlab/R skills, the more likely you are to land that lucrative job offer.

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