The Best Jobs in Finance for Math Nerds

Do you love math & programming? Here are some excellent career options.

So you love math you’re a deeply analytical person in fact nothing makes you happier than when both sides of the equation equal each other lucky for you if you’re interested in a career in finance there are a plethora of roles now in finance there are four titles that math nerds such as yourself are given quants analytics now while that’s not a title of an individual

Departments have analytics analysts strats or strategists and financial engineers those four titles could apply to a bunch of different divisions i’m gonna go through three of them today but keep in mind there are well more than three i can’t go through all of them these are three very popular ones and three that i’ve been in or been deeply involved in my career

In finance the first one is risk management now i’m not talking about being a risk analyst where you sign off on risks of a bank i’m talking about working on a risk analytics team or being a risk financial engineer here you’re not just signing off on risks as i mentioned you are developing methodologies for calculating risk when i was at morgan stanley in 2013

On the risk i.t team on the technology team i was tasked with helping the risk analytics team developing a methodology around selecting which historical window they should use for their stress testing models it was around which time period had the most volatility yet the most relatable so they used a bunch of different models and methods to figure out which

Window and there was a whole project and a program that would run every day that would determine which window is the best for stress testing the current day’s risk that’s something that a risk analyst might do on the buy side you won’t be doing this kind of risk analysis where you’re like building risk models big scale ones unless you’re working for a really

Big firm i’m talking to sigma or citadel which for all intents and purposes it’s by side but it’s kind of like cell side in that it’s just a well-oiled massive behemoth really hard to get into and they pay very well but on most hedge funds as a risk quant you’re really gonna kind of be in the middle of a bunch of different things you’re gonna do like 33 percent

Risk you’ll do 33 like it liaison type work and you’ll do like 33 working on models with the trading team it really depends on which hedge fund but the specific role that you have as a risk quant won’t be nearly as detailed and specific like working on models for this group as working on the sell side as a math nerd you might want to be a sales and trading quant

In the sell side this is the role most previously i had at morgan stanley i did for three and a half years our team label were the desk strats so what exactly did we do well we actually did a ton of stuff basically you’re the math slash programming nerds of the sales desk and that means the sales and traders they talk to the clients they execute the trades but

Everything else we do so we build the reports we automate the reports we come up with the formulas and the analytics that are going to determine trade decisions we work on the methodology so we do a little bit of everything the work isn’t quite as quant heavy as like pure quant roles are but you have to be pretty good at math you have to be excellent at programming

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And you have to understand finance very well the buy side is actually pretty similar for these desk strat type roles in that you do liaison with it a lot like you’ll deal with the sales you’ll deal with the traders i’m sorry and when the traders want something and it’s a really big project you will probably put together the specs write some pseudo code and hand

That off to it or you might write the code yourself prepare the model and then work with it to kind of link it up to the database there are just many different directions you can go it’s a very open-ended job the job specs are not very specific me personally these are the type of roles i love i think they’re really interesting every every few months had learned

Something completely new uh it was my favorite job of all time finally the money makers it’s an interesting title to give a division so to speak but you’re the quants who actually make money on the sell side there are not actually many of these teams anymore there are still a few where you write models and that’s your main job is just sitting down and coming up

With analytics and coding models they’re much more math heavy than the desk strat rolls there are some market making roles where you’re doing similar stuff but in a much more quantity fashion so there’s some of that in the cell side on the buy side there are hardcore quants and they just sit and write c plus plus code all day long there’s really no other options

I mean some of them use python but it’s really c plus plus for the powerful hedge funds and you’re just coming up with the models automated trading systems writing code and just trying to beat the market ultimately the quants that do really well on the buy side they end up becoming quant portfolio managers and they make the really big bucks there are some honorable

Mentions that i’ve left out and they’re mostly new human resources quants if you haven’t heard of that you should check it out it’s a new thing they figure out all sorts of analytics about conduct type of employees diversity it’s actually a very math heavy human resources role really interesting and that’s spreading through roles that traditionally didn’t have

Quants before equity research wealth management so there are a lot of options that are kind of sprouting out they’re not quite as well developed as the ones i covered but they do exist now i want to talk a little bit about some questions work hours in most of the quant roles your work hours are pretty good 8 8 30 in the morning until 6 7 pm of course depends

Whether your buy side or sell side what type of firm but usually your hours are pretty good interestingly enough working from home tends to make these hours much much worse you’re kind of owned by your computer and your hours stretch much longer that’s what i’ve experienced and many that i’ve talked to as well now if you want to do the desk strat roll that i

Mentioned you have to be in probably a little before the sales traders as well so especially on the sell side i would get in the office about 6 45 in the morning which is very normal and if you have a commute like me well i was out heading out to the train at 5am every day so that’s kind of have to be a morning person if you want to be a desk strat the other roles

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Are a little more forgiving is the work repetitive in most quant roles no it’s really up to you i mean you’re producing the models you’re doing a lot of programming if you’re stuck on one model for a while it might feel a little stale but pretty often it’s exciting and there’s new stuff going on as a desk strat every day is something new you have building stuff

You’re building reporting projects sure there’s stuff you own i owned all the reporting tools that i built for the desk if something went wrong or they needed to be further developed that was my responsibility i never felt too stale because i always learned new skills while doing it but also that wasn’t my primary responsibility my primary responsibility was to

Build out new methods models set up new database schemas and all that stuff so i felt it was very fresh and always exciting now if you work in risk management as a risk analytics quant that could feel a little stale now again it’s not very repetitive per se but typically you’ll work on this big model for months on end and it might get a little boring or stale are

The people nice i find in pretty much all the quant rules that yes people are extremely nice and kind generally not the most chatty because quants tend to be more book nerd type which also means less aggressive as individuals i know you might have met a mean quant in your life donate me for this but i find that on most quan teams people are actually pretty nice

Do the firms you work in matter pretty early in your career it’s generally smart to stay with more well-known firms just because it helps you progress your career better also on the sell side typically people stay a little longer than on the buy side so that might not be true as much but whatever you do you’re probably going to be more consistent and just stick

Around with the job for longer and through more career progressions but it’s generally a good idea to have some good firms rather than start as a quantitative no name firm that might look a little funny on your resume and make it harder to transition into bigger firms career progression so with the exception of the money making quant most of it is about time

And project management which is funny because you think quant you think math then you know you got to get things right it’s about the typical career stuff project management time management communication this is what you need to progress your career you show that you’re reliable consistent you get your job done and you can own projects and see them to the next

Level you’ll get promoted pretty quickly now the one difference is in the money making roles if you’re a quantitative hedge fund and your job is to come up with models and you actually produce some really cool models that are making the firms tons of money i’ve seen people a few years at a school hit the million dollar mark own desks become pms very quickly just

Because they were smarter than everyone so it’s just an interesting thing to know like if you’re not the brightest quant out there chasing the money-making roles might make it stressful for you in terms of career progression because the smarter quant will typically beat you in terms of making more money i never was good enough for those roles and this is not a


Knock on you i was never good enough and never wanted to be on the hedge fund side doing a role where i was expected to come up with money making models i knew i would never be as good as anyone else doing it so i never went for exit opportunities here i think is the best reason to be a quan pretty much any quant role is a great exit opportunity to another quant

What are your skills your skills are you understand finance you’re good at math you’re good at programming you’re good at time management you’re good at project management so the team you’re moving to might be working on some derivative that you haven’t done yet what does it matter you have your stochastic calculus you have your strong background in math you’re

A good programmer it just doesn’t matter that you haven’t actually interacted with that derivative yet or been involved in this specific team as a matter of fact just to drive this home so you know i am a career coach i have a client who was a risk quant working on the sell side in a bank in a pure risk quant role he was working on models the slow paced career

Stuff and he just got a buy side money money-making quant roll tripled his income on the first year and like the roles seem to have nothing to do with each other but you look at his resume and it lists out all the derivatives it lists out all the time series analysis all the quant skills the papers he’s written and all the pretty impressive models he’s built okay

This person’s reliable this person’s smart clearly a good programmer he’ll fit great on the team i think one more i’ll touch on his master’s degree and the reason why i’m gonna touch on this specifically is because unlike most roles in finance for the quant roles you really should get a master’s now that doesn’t mean you have to start with a master’s degree such

As having a financial engineering master’s degree or quantitative finance degree it’s not just about the paper you actually learn incredibly valuable stuff that will help you in your career you build a network and most of these schools actually help you find jobs i’ve seen so many people go from 60 70k jobs get a financial engineering master’s degree and boom

150 all in this actually happens specifically in quant roles so i strongly suggest getting a master’s degree some hedge funds actually love phds but a master’s degree should be in enough in most cases one last thing on this note is if you were an analyst before so you got a summer analyst role either on the desk as a desk strat or in risk management as a risk

Analyst if you got that summer analyst role that will transition you into the analyst role and then you’ll get promoted into associate without a master’s degree i still encourage you to do part-time school and get that master’s degree because it opens up this whole world of fun to you for later on in your career so it’s just a smart idea but you could actually

Start your quant career that way whereas in other cases you might just have to go straight for the master’s degree i hope you enjoyed this video if you did please hit the like button subscribe hit the bell notification to be notified of next week’s video and i’ll see you next week so you

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The Best Jobs in Finance for Math Nerds By Mark Ross