Hello from a Quant wannabe with advise for Masters PHD and quant/hedge fund career

(Last Updated On: June 5, 2012)

Hello from a Quant wannabe with advise for Masters PHD and quant/hedge fund career

From someone local to me through LinkedIn:

Hello Bryan Downing:
I am a Physicist/Teacher by profession. However, I am doing online entrepreneurship now. I am also one of the organizers for the DenEntrepreneurs meetup group in Toronto.
I came across your website and your linkedin group because my very good friend wants to know about the field of Quant. I must say that I am very impressed from your website and all the generous information that you are sharing with everyone!
Actually my friend will be getting her Ph.D in Physics in about 2 years time from now. She wants to know about the Quant field. She does not have alot of interest in heavy programming or coding, but she wants to know as to what the opportunities are in the Quants field in Canada. I saw your youtube video, where you stated that there are not many quant jobs in Canada.
Now I have some questions, in which I need your guidance in 🙂

1) Now I have heard that under the current economic climate, some Quants are being let go because Quants deal with high risk management, and in today’s global economic crisis- there is very little room for risk. What is your general view on this?


à  this is true. The Volker rule is making it difficult for banks to become a like a prop shop where this kind of work is. It seems there will be lots of boutiques in the usual global financial centers but Canada is quite conservative here.
2) Interms of the Job market and future job trends for Quants: Does it look sort of bleak and/or not very strong in general?  -> I would say there are amazing opportunities in emerging markets like Latin America, Australia, and Singapore/China/India as this market matures. There shall be many smaller shops but I see trends where individuals/independents will be able to pull this off. They will just need to be highly driven, entrepreneurial, and advanced to learn more math and technology techniques like programming. I am doing it and know many who are as well.
3) To be a Quant- it is best to master: Matlab, C++, C#, Java, VBA and Excel, correct?  à Yes but I would also add R and Linux scripting like PERL as well as other open source technologies like Python. This is the problem with the ever changing tech landscape.  It comes down to choosing the Microsoft .NET vs open source Linux/Unix paths.
4) University of Toronto has a One year Masters program for Financial Mathematics. I had contacted them and they said that at the end of that program- you qualify to become a quant. However, I have noticed that Mcmaster University, U of T and Simon Fraser in BC and a lot of these US based Universities don’t prepare students for heavy programming courses in their Financial Math curriculum. I have come across so many people in different Quant forums where they state that people with strong mathematical and computer science backgrounds can have a alright chance for any entry level quant jobs. What is your general outlook on this? -> This is correct but the competition is getting highly fierce for these positions. There  also seems to be a highly strong trend to be from a name global brand ivey league school like Stanford, Columbia, NYU, etc. I am not sure if any of the Canadian schools will get you recognized globally but Rotman definitely could be a top choice.
5) My friend also wants to look into the field of Actuary. From what I have seen- it does not require a lot of programming and there is a huge job demand for it as compared to Quants. The field of Actuary is much broader in scope interms of job opportunities. Have you come across similar trends as well?
à This is more insurance and less banking/capital markets
I am looking forward to hearing from you/Thank you so much:

NOTE I now post my TRADING ALERTS into my personal FACEBOOK ACCOUNT and TWITTER. Don't worry as I don't post stupid cat videos or what I eat!

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