Career change into Quant Trading

I'm looking into making a career transition into Quant Finance.

Some background on me:

I'm 29y. I'm born and raised on a dairy farm in Belgium. I have always been good at Mathematics (I made it 3 times to national Math Olympiad finale in highschool). After highschool I got a Bachelor in Bio Engineering (KULeuven, Belgium) and a Masters in Management, Economics and Consumer Sciences (Wageningen UR, Netherlands). In general I'm a quick learner and never struggled with any class. During my studies I spent more hours milking my parents' cows than actually attending classes, but I did pass with honors, I was asked to become student assistant for some Decision Science classes...

After University, with some pressure from my parents, I decided to follow my family tradition and go into the dairy world. I went to work for a dairy in Germany for 1 year and after that I came to the US to work as a herd health technician/robotic milking system technician on a large dairy farm. Soon after getting hired, I became the General Manager of this location and was doing pretty good (salary from 70k-150k during the 5 years I worked here). I got married and have 3 kids now. I am easy to get along with but not the best people manager. Even though I have been getting better, I struggle holding people accountable. With being easily motivated and a bit smarter than average, I still made it work but I have been feeling tired. Tired of doing 90-100 hours/week, tired of barely seeing my kids, tired of not getting to use my skills. Since I and my wife got here on a workvisa and we want to keep living in the US, we didn't have much other options than to keep doing this job.

While managing this dairy in the US, I did a lot of little things on the side:

  • I played around with some crypto, was arbitraging bets on the US elections on different crypto betting websites and protocols (eg. receiving odds of 1.9x for Biden to win, while receiving odds above 3x for Trump to win election)
  • Buying and selling large amounts of crypto for cash for a 10-15% mark-up
  • Buying bitcoin miners from China after their crypto ban and selling them locally for a profit
  • I felt publicly traded bitcoin mining companies were way overvalued, but shorting them is risky since it's hard to predict what will happen to the bitcoin-price so I started to run efficient bitcoin miners in a facility with cheap electricity, while shorting stocks like RIOT to eliminate the risk of the bitcoinprice going up. Basically I made my own smaller copy of RIOT for 10% of what their stock was worth and shorted RIOT at the same time.
  • Buying SPY at the stock market while shorting mSPY (mirrored SPY) on mirror protocol (DeFi - Decentralized Finance) with aUST (acnhored UST) as collateral, leveraging this up many times to get yields around +100% APY on USD (with no UST depeg risk by taking out insurance for a UST-depeg through Unslashed (who did pay out through a Kleros-court case). Of course while the UST depeg didn't directly cost me any money (because of insurance), it did take this income stream away.

All these things combined have made me more money than my GM job has been paying me, but it's risky. eg. I lost 300k $ on Mirror after making 600k $ with it because of SPY pricing jumping up by 4% to come back down 4% a bleep of a second afterwards on the actual stock market (dark pool after hours). (…)

A couple months ago we got our permanent residency approved and we started looking into our options. When I was reading about Quantitative Finance, I felt that I finally found the industry I belong to. This is what actually interests me. A couple weeks ago I gave my company a 2 month notice and they are disappointed, but understanding of the situation. Doing long hours and to prevent my family from falling apart, I felt there was no other way out of this career than to quit and then start figuring out my new career path.

I hope there is a chance I can get a Quant Finance career (thinking Quant Trader). I have been studying here and there a bit (took some Python classes last year, took an online probability class from Harvard...) and purchased some books. Currently going through "A Practical Guide to Quantitative Finance Interviews by Xinfeng Zhou" and I feel there might be some math that I need to refresh (It's been 6 years of not using any Math) for some questions, but the common sense part is there for most questions.

How realistic is this career change? What would you recommend me to study/do to get a job? I'm looking for any advice. This is a completely different world than I'm used too and I can use some guidance. If you are open to a chat/phone call, shoot me a message. Thank you!

Comments (19)

Most Helpful
  • Quant in PropTrad

What are you looking to get out of working for a trading firm that you can't get trading by yourself? If you think you can consistently make good money independently trading that seems like a reasonable option as well as the types of trades you described seem better suited to retail trading due to (I presume) very low capacity and substantial regulatory risk around those products.

I would think the firms most likely to be interested in your type of background would be small crypto focused firms. Larger firms may think your success in those types of trades is due to unwillingness of larger firms to pursue them due to low capacity and compliance/regulatory considerations. It's also not obvious that success in these types of small trades would translate to success working on scalable quant trading strategies.

leen1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would you recommend me to apply right away with these smaller crypto companies? 

  • Quant in PropTrad

I don't think there is any harm in applying now although I have to think hiring in crypto is much slower than a year ago. At least at smaller firms I think there would be an expectation to make reasonably consistent profits via your strategies and I don't think most larger systematic firms would hire someone with your background for entry level positions. 

Another potentially more realistic although less desirable option would be to find a less demanding non trading related job for some stable income and then trade in your free time.

Rotterdam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am just learning all of this myself so take my advice with a grain of salt. I have been learning as much as I can about reinforcement learning/deep learning in general and as I have been working through those materials I have had ideas about how to translate the examples I have seen to a trading agent. There are some examples out there too about people building something similar. I thought these were interesting.

I haven't found any courses that focus on the trading side. Which means there is probably some opportunity still there in a lot of markets.

leen1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What's the cool story?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

How is it not interesting?  Most are just plain old "went to high school, 4 yr college with finance/Econ major, summer intern" 

Fillycheesesteaks, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would just try applying and see if you get any hits, then try to pass the assessments. Most banks or hedge funds will not will look at you, so maybe market making shops. You can try doing some personal projects. The most direct way is doing a masters in financial engineering/computational finance in some top school. Basically everyone places in trading but that's obviously money and more time

leen1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would mfe be worth it knowledge wise or mainly just to get an interview?

With personal projects. How do I go from there. All I'm learning now is probabilities etc.

Would just some udemy class on algorithms in python be a good start ?

leen1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Is mfe pretty similar to Master of Science in Quantitative and Computational Finance at Georgia Tech?

Fillycheesesteaks, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes, all the same. Here are the rankings: and some of the employment stats from Carnegie Mellon:

Personally, I would only consider the top 5/7 of the list. It's mostly just to get you to interview. Doing masters puts you back into the recruiting cycle and some of these schools have a direct recruiting pipeline with the banks/hedge funds. The market making shops are more open to people of different majors and backgrounds, hence you should just try applying there first before anything. I'm not sure what route to take for the personal projects honestly; I'd only guess building a trading algorithmn is best use of your time. 

wise_monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Network, network.

You seem to have a great background for a quant role. Many top teams on derivatives have quants… so checkout the banks for those roles and apply. Also I know people that have moved from say quant risk or market risk to derivatives or quant trading. Also check our delta one teams 

goliath2235, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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