Monday, May 02, 2011

What to recommend to a young quant

I share with you my recommendation to a "young quant" that wrote me asking for leads:


A tricky question. As with any industry, there is a certain “commoditization” of derivative technology including quant work, that plus the uncertain future of the US regulations on derivatives, and to add to that a bleak economic outlook in Europe and the US. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side and many parts of the market are in a squeeze.

Having said that, there are still smart people out there making money and there is still a lot of new development in Asia. My recommendation is not to look for change of activity, but to get closer to successful firms. I know that is easier said than done. Still, one idea is that you are better off accepting a low pay to be closer to success than a higher pay that keeps you out of the fast lane. Again, I know this is not easy. And worse than that, you are in competition with many others.

The best I can do is to give you the following advice: I have looked at your profile and it is too much like “another quant”. Further more, you admit you do not have “...” experience by saying that you have strong interest in it. Therefore my recommendation is to try to stretch your resume in new “original” directions that will make it stand out. Ideally you should back this up with personal work. My gut feeling would be to add more software development experience: if I hire a quant I want him also to be good programmer to get quick turnaround times. You say nothing about your development skills. Spend time to work on these skills if you do not have enough of them. The second concept would be to be more exotic with your choice of quant projects: think of the senior quant that reads your resume and give him something to think about. So go buy a book on approximate dynamic programming or spectral methods in stochastic computation, do a little development at home and add it to your resume.


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