The somewhat secretive world of quantitative finance has grown rapidly in recent years, and will continue to, among investment and commercial banks, hedge funds and asset management firms. Competition among employers is fierce for high-caliber candidates to fill positions in quantitative analytics and trading, financial engineering and risk management. Quantitative analysts (known as “Quants” in the industry) work in a variety of roles. A “front office” quant works on a trading desk, which is a fast-paced environment that is world’s apart from the ivy towers of academia.
- Do well in all subjects. If one subject is not your strong point, keep working on it until you are comfortable with that subject. Science and math are two major key points that must be accomplished.
- Find the top graduate programs. A quality degree is mandatory. Make sure you feel comfortable in the prgrams and that you are getting something out of it. Using the QuantNetwork 2009 Ranking of Financial Engineering/Mathematical Finance programs as a guide http://www.quantnet.com/mfe-programs-rankings/
Study.Study for everything!
Make sure you are always prepared. Always go prepared to any event. Make sure you do not forget anything important.
- Read Aaron Brask’s “Wall Street Job Primer: A Comprehensive Guide for Those Aspiring to Work in Financial Services” (on Amazon)
- Read quant interview questions, career guide from this “QuantNetwork Master reading list for MFE, quants” http://www.quantnet.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1336
- Communication skills are important. If needed, take speech classes. Executive recruiters (“Headhunters”) will often screen for communication skills first.
- “Heard on the Street” is an invaluable book that will help you prepare for the “brainteaser” type questions that are common at interviews — particularly if you are a recent graduate.
- Even candidates with excellent academic qualifications in math often have difficulty with basic questions. Interview preparation should include a review of basic undergraduate-type subject areas such as: Root Finding, Coordinate Geometry, Probability, Game Theory, Eigenvalues
- The top firms offer the brightest prospects summer internships during college. Apply for internships.
- If you don’t get an offer from a choice firm as a “fresh grad.,” there is typically an even greater demand for “experienced hires” with knowledge of financial products. Candidates with industry experience have a distinct advantage when submitting their resumes/CV’s to “top-tier” investment banks (assuming that’s your goal) such as Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, CitiGroup, Lehman Brothers, etc.