11/5/10

I'm 32yo, obtained a Ph.D. from one of the HYP schools in a science field in 2008. I have a BA in math with a minor in finance in 2001. I was thinking of becoming a prof, but I bailed and now I am doing consulting for a sub-MBB in a technical practice.

I'd really like to join a trading firm like SIG -- I am completely mental for poker and play speed chess regularly. I follow the markets, read economics in my spare time (von Mises, etc.) and actually LIKE it -- which is something I CANNOT say about my job. I got into science because ultimately like problem solving, not because I really care about science. In trading and the markets, I see the chance for that daily problem-solving excitement.

I think the pros for me are that I have a solid technical background and enthusiasm. I would fucking kill to get into trading.

The cons are that I have zilch practical market experience and I am old.

Do I have any shot at making the jump? Are there things I can do to shore up my applications? Any other SIG-like firms out there I should consider?

Comments (27)

Best Response
11/18/10

If you are really from the DC Area, look into the energy trading firm DC Energy. I interviewed there - they are a really interesting place, and a lot of their guys have PhDs/consulting backgrounds. They pay well, and were formed by Dean and Co a while back. Energy is a very interesting/lucrative market to trade in, as well.

Also age shouldn't be a limiting factor since they have an Analyst->Associate->Principal->Director hierarchy which can be scaled very quickly if you are good (i.e. 5 years).

http://www.jasonbondpicks.com
11/5/10

You could always start to trade your own capital.

"Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."

11/5/10

I've thought about that Gekko. I had a good 2009 and 2010 and beat the index by a good margin but to be quite honest with myself that was just blind ass luck. I could not point to anything that I could call a real edge.

At the risk of sounding phony, I don't want to do it just for the money: I want to do it because this is something I want to be good at. Sitting at home, I don't think I will learn as much from Wilmott or Hull as I would from real traders. Making the right decision in the markets gives me the same rush as making a good move in chess or poker. There is nothing else in my life that I really look forward to getting up in the morning for.

11/5/10

Sounds like you have a good story. Now you need to quantify your performance in the markets and why you want to make the switch to really have a solid shot. There are a lot of heavy hitters in S&T. You need to come in with the personality and brains to make them trust you with their millions.

11/5/10

you don't need a phd to win at poker and read von mises (btw you lose your "scientist" credibility by admitting you read that). you need to find an edge. tell us what kind of empirical techniques you learned in your phd (of what?) and brainstorm how that can be relevant in finance. If you can't/won't do that then the PhD part of your profile is useless and you'd be picked after the 2001-version of yourself (which would be unfortunate, but not a deal-breaker). Now if you don't think your phd is relevant and you want read amateur economics and try to be some sort of long-term macro trader, that's fine. But your age is less forgivable then.

11/5/10

If Ludwig von Mises is "amateur economics" unworthy of a scientist then The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money must have been written in fucking crayon.

11/5/10

its unscientific because (1) it's too abstract and (2) it's against any empirical verification. That's my rote definition of unscientific. But even besides that it's also too ideologically/politically biased. If you want to be an economic philosopher and/or write political papers on classical liberalism than ludwig is your man, but if you want to aspire towards scientific/practical economics than its garbage.

http://www.jasonbondpicks.com
11/5/10

Look far and wide for opportunities. Prop shops, physicals, banks, any place is good if the money isn't your foremost motivation. I have a buddy who's spent the past year in the treasury department of a major energy company. The people there make 100k-200k but risk management is pretty loose and they just mess around with fx and rates trades all day.

Also, read this: http://tinyurl.com/2usambe

11/5/10

Thanks to all for the input. Goodbread, I'm going to do your plan and see how much alpha I can generate in the coming year. If I don't blow up I am going to recruit hard next fall.

Seig: von Mises, Hazlitt, etc. are just for fun. I went to a saltwater Keynesian UG school so the Austrian stuff is like econ-porn to me.

11/5/10

It's Bondarb's plan just to give props where they're due. For my part, I'm planning on starting to trade eurodollar futures after some reading.

11/5/10

Apply to legit prop trading companies. Your background will certainly get you interviews. It's all up to you after that.

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
11/5/10
Edmundo Braverman:

If Ludwig von Mises is "amateur economics" unworthy of a scientist then The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money must have been written in fucking crayon.

Sig'd.

I win here, I win there...

In reply to numm
11/5/10
numm:

Apply to legit prop trading companies. Your background will certainly get you interviews. It's all up to you after that.

I'd definitely second this. D.E Shaw is full of scientists.
http://www.deshawresearch.com/

I win here, I win there...

In reply to Seigniorage
11/5/10
Seigniorage:

its unscientific because (1) it's too abstract and (2) it's against any empirical verification. That's my rote definition of unscientific. But even besides that it's also too ideologically/politically biased. If you want to be an economic philosopher and/or write political papers on classical liberalism than ludwig is your man, but if you want to aspire towards scientific/practical economics than its garbage.

"scientific/practical economics"

lmfao. you kids and your mathematical sophistry. economics is not a science buddy. humans make decisions with their emotions, markets are not efficient, there isn't perfect information, and your stupid little models simplify too much. it's all a house of cards

11/5/10

Second the DE Shaw suggestion...they love PhD/Science types

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

11/5/10

Let's see now, you've got a Ph.D., but can you do math? How many people are out of work? Just get a job.

11/5/10

"scientific/practical economics"

lmfao. you kids and your mathematical sophistry. economics is not a science buddy. humans make decisions with their emotions, markets are not efficient, there isn't perfect information, and your stupid little models simplify too much. it's all a house of cards

I'm aware of this most simple fact. That's why I wrote "aspire to scientific/practical economics".

Econometrics is flawed. Recursive Methods are flawed. Dynamic Stochastic Equilibrium models are flawed. By definition any model is a simplification and thus flawed. No economist would ever argue otherwise. But when it comes to practical economics- e.g. testing general theories with specific observations and building investment theories/forecasts, there is a need for economics to be presented in a way that it can be empirically measured. (1) Otherwise it's just not "practical"- you can't even attempt to develop consensus opinion even within a similar general theory. And (2) even with consensus, you can't declare meaningul policy (or investment) times and targets (which is fairly well avoided by the Austrians by simply promoting the pitfalls of any interventionist strategy). Honestly I can't think of a worse economics framework to base investment decisions. It's easy sans-maths nature doesn't make up for its flaws in practicality and implentation. Hell it's "we should" scenarios aren't even relevant to the policy decisions we have come to expect in the future.

In reply to patio
11/5/10
patio:

Let's see now, you've got a Ph.D., but can you do math? How many people are out of work? Just get a job.

Yes, I can do math.

A lot of people are out of work. 9.5% of searchers by the govt's count. The real figure is certainly higher.

As for getting a job: working on it. Thanks for the advice.

11/5/10

You certainly can make the transition! I know of a number of people who have successfully transitioned into trading positions in their thirties. You just need someone to give you a chance to prove yourself. Doing an internship or going back to school are two options that could help you if it's difficult to get hired directly. But, I'm pretty sure prop shops like Jane Street Capital, who don't really care about age as much as mathematical mental prowess, will give you a shot at interviewing for a trader position.

In reply to New Yorker
11/6/10
New Yorker:
Seigniorage:

its unscientific because (1) it's too abstract and (2) it's against any empirical verification. That's my rote definition of unscientific. But even besides that it's also too ideologically/politically biased. If you want to be an economic philosopher and/or write political papers on classical liberalism than ludwig is your man, but if you want to aspire towards scientific/practical economics than its garbage.

"scientific/practical economics"

lmfao. you kids and your mathematical sophistry. economics is not a science buddy. humans make decisions with their emotions, markets are not efficient, there isn't perfect information, and your stupid little models simplify too much. it's all a house of cards

Econometrics 101. Check it!

I win here, I win there...

11/18/10

You can try any reputed hedge fund like Renaissance Technology, DE Shaw, Two Sigmas, AQR etc. As a HPY PhD, you will certainly get interviews, but whether you can get in depends on how good your math is. I bet if you are as good as a International Mathematics Olympiad Gold Medal or a Math Assistant Professor level, they will certainly hire you. Doing a science PhD does not necessarily prove you can be good at what they are looking for.

11/18/10

But don't many students get in through MBA's with prior experiences in Non-Mathematics / Trading fields? (age around 30).

11/18/10

+1 on the DC Energy suggestion. Top shop in a very promising sector.

In reply to absinthe
11/18/10
SIG:

If you are really from the DC Area, look into the energy trading firm DC Energy. I interviewed there - they are a really interesting place, and a lot of their guys have PhDs/consulting backgrounds. They pay well, and were formed by Dean and Co a while back. Energy is a very interesting/lucrative market to trade in, as well.

Also age shouldn't be a limiting factor since they have an Analyst->Associate->Principal->Director hierarchy which can be scaled very quickly if you are good (i.e. 5 years).

Indeed I am and you bet I will look into this.

I'm more interested in desk trading than quant work. I can do Matlab and know my way around differential equations, but I'm not a hardcore Java/C++ numerics expert. Does this fit their profile as far as you know?

Thanks to everyone for the advice thus far -- any other ideas are very welcomed.

In reply to ivoteforthatguy
11/18/10
ivoteforthatguy:
SIG:

If you are really from the DC Area, look into the energy trading firm DC Energy. I interviewed there - they are a really interesting place, and a lot of their guys have PhDs/consulting backgrounds. They pay well, and were formed by Dean and Co a while back. Energy is a very interesting/lucrative market to trade in, as well.

Also age shouldn't be a limiting factor since they have an Analyst->Associate->Principal->Director hierarchy which can be scaled very quickly if you are good (i.e. 5 years).

Indeed I am and you bet I will look into this.

I'm more interested in desk trading than quant work. I can do Matlab and know my way around differential equations, but I'm not a hardcore Java/C++ numerics expert. Does this fit their profile as far as you know?

Thanks to everyone for the advice thus far -- any other ideas are very welcomed.

Yeah, you don't have to know how to code, they will teach you PHP. It's a lot more fundamental/logic stuff, their interview process mainly tests problem solving capability through cases/puzzles.

You might have to wait until next recruiting season but you seem like a shoe-in for an interview. Also consider Dean Ventures, a quantitative IM firm in DC, but DC Energy seems more interesting/lucrative.

11/28/10

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11/28/10

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