Career switch into quant trading - viable?

looking2join's picture
Rank: Chimp | 12

Hi all,

Been considering a career shift into quant trading for quite some time. Unlike most people here asking for career advice who are mainly undergrads, I'm 5 years out of undergrad with some (hopefully) relevant experience under my belt. My background:
-Applied Math/Statistics major from a top target
-Trading internship at a prop shop (they went down and under since)
-1 year quant dev exp at another prop shop
-3 years of work exp in data science/analytics
-Well-versed/experience in different markets (fixed income, equities, futures, vol, commodities)

tldr - decent mix of quantitative/programming background + exposure to trading world. From what I've heard, most shops aren't too keen to bring in people outside of the industry (meaning they only hire experienced traders + recruit out of school). Is it feasible for me to land a gig at one of these places? Would I have to start from a pure junior role despite having some relevant (but scattered) background?

Comments (15)

Mar 17, 2019

Hey looking2join, I think you deserve a response...heck, everyone does. We're listening, sorry about the delay best guess at places on WSO that could help:

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Fingers crossed that one of those helps you.

Mar 21, 2019

Energy commodities are shifting into quant trading. These guys are actually just catching up with the rest of the industry, but in a fast pace.

It's a good place to break in (in you are interested in the industry) because a lot of shops, both small and majors, are still just figuring out how to go about this and aren't hiring only rock star quants.

Shell currently have an open position in London, however they do require quant experience (not necessarily in commodities).

Mar 21, 2019

Your background is impressive but the best way at this point of getting a shot is having your own portfolio + strategies and displaying your ability. If you have accomplished this much then you can reach out to recruiters and try and schedule interviews hopefully.

    • 1
Mar 21, 2019

Does this work for non quant strategies? I've been doing this with tech companies as I've worked on a lot of sales teams and understand how they grow,

Not sure if its something I would be able to break into. STEM background as well.

Mar 21, 2019

If you have an edge then sure, though that may be hard for someone to understand why you're applying to quant firm using fundamental analysis. Maybe HF work is more suitable?

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Mar 21, 2019


Mar 21, 2019

no will just have to make your way in thru the side door.

get a job as a quant developer / programmer at a quant fund / ibank (there are many). Then, after 6-12 months, you'll be able to lateral into a more investing focused quant trading type role.

Just about every investment bank is looking to hire quant developers. When you are in a quant developer role at a large firm like Goldman, it will be much easier to get lateral interviews into quant trading roles (or you might just internally transfer if you are in a place like GS).

just google're welcome

    • 1
Jun 26, 2019

what are the quant trading roles in the bank? I am asking because I am currently at one of the IB as a front office quant(i.e. quant developer?). So we have traders and we have quants for each of the type of product but what are quant traders exactly?

Jun 26, 2019

look at TwoSigma for quant trading research

just google're welcome

Mar 21, 2019

I would say with your background you should have a decent chance of at least getting an interview. I would highly recommend developing your own strategy and be able to speak intelligently about it from start to finish. For example, what research did you do to come up with it, what infrastructure considerations did you take into account (i.e. maximizing latency, or are you simply focused on the automation?), to back testing and forward testing.

In my experience, the best way to get hired as a quant trader/developer/researcher is to show you can already do it, or at least have made significant effort into doing it yourself regardless of whether you come from a quant fund or not. It proves you are actually interested in the space (your not just talking the talk). It also makes your hiring pitch better. "You should hire me because I am already kind of doing this." Not saying this is the only way, but if it was between two people with your credentials, I would much rather pick the one who has shown initiative and desire to work in quantitative trading.

    • 1
Mar 21, 2019

Out of curiosity, what makes you not want to do quant dev anymore? it's a pretty cool job; you get to do some very technical/interesting work and are paid well for it with zero risk ...

Mar 22, 2019

Great advice here so far, thanks everyone who provided feedback.


Out of curiosity, what makes you not want to do quant dev anymore? it's a pretty cool job; you get to do some very technical/interesting work and are paid well for it with zero risk ...

I agree it's a cool job. The short answer is - I don't think I have the chops to make it as a quant dev, at least at a legit firm like Two Sigma, Jump, etc. My quant dev exp was at a significantly less "quanty" firm. In fact, all my past trading experience have been with shops that are 90%+ more discretionary. My thinking was that I have enough trading intuition and a flair for numbers (stats background + data analytics), but I'd probably wouldn't fare well up to standards from a developer perspective. The main reason I left my previous firm was that I had nothing much more left to learn (no one else at the firm really had any significant quant dev exp).

Mar 22, 2019