Experienced Quant Looking For Advice

So i've been working over the past two and a half years as a quant on a buy-side (Asset Management) execution desk and have recently been getting quite frustrated with the work, career progression and the way quants are treated at my firm. I've been looking into moving to a more tech-focused hedge fund or prop trading shop but have really struggled to get any interviews.

A bit more background - I have 2.5 years of exp as an execution quant, 1 year as an energy quant and another year as a sell-side economist. I have both a masters and bachelors in economics, with heavy quant concentrations (econometrics & stats). The languages I use are predominantly Python and SQL - my current job is essentially quant strat on an execution desk so it's a lot of dev work and building out analytics/signals. I am also London based.

I am not quite sure what to do as I feel quite trapped right now, no quant firms want to interview me and it has made me question making the switch towards quant finance. I would ideally like to move into a role more closely aligned with the PnL generation side of things (quant trading, alpha quant research, quant dev or data science as long as they sit close to the revenue generating teams etcetc) and definitely feel I have the skills to do so. Would anyone be able to give me any advice on how to make this switch?

Comments (10)

  • PM in HF - RelVal
Jan 11, 2022 - 8:20pm

I see 30-50 of resumes from bizdev every week which are already prescreened from the likely 100s of resumes they get. Honestly, unless you have relevant experience at another top tier quant HF or have gone to my alma matter or something I don't even bother opening up the resumes. It's tough out there, there's a lot of competition and unless you already look amazing on paper it's going to be hard to get interviews. 

From a PM/ firm's perspective, adding a new person has to justify the cost. A analyst/researcher seat at a fund costs probably 1-2m of pnl generation per year so if you don't have the background to convince a hiring manager that you can actually generate that value for the firm then it's going to be a hard sell

I think a lot of quants just assume that by coding and being good at math they can generate value. That isn't true - I've interacted with a lot of brilliant quants who are IMO level, superstar coders that don't generate squat for value. I'd stop leet coding and try to actually learn how to generate Pnl, whether that's through moving to a risk taking seat at a smaller fund or trading your own money. Or another route is learn deep technical knowledge related to quant trading infrastructure - backtesting, trading order management systems, hft infra etc.

Also kids graduating from school these days typically can run circles (with regards to pure technical skills) around quants with 5-10 yrs of experience. Yes they lack domain expertise, but if all you're selling is stats knowledge and coding, a recent grad from HYPS will likely be able to do that at half the cost and twice the efficiency

Most Helpful
Jan 11, 2022 - 8:49pm

Have you try being more marketable by shading your resume towards your desired position. Ex, do not call yourself an execution quant, since that isn't going to get you hired for an alpha generation role. If you have any projects that are remotely alpha/signal related, list those first and go into great detail, even if it they weren't substantial amounts of work. Don't volunteer too much information that makes you look like an execution quant, or describe your responsibilities in a way that obscures this without outright lying. Any projects that demonstrate expertise in as asset class are good (beyond super micro pricing quant type stuff) that could relate to alpha are good. List any personal work/projects you've done that show an interest in trading/quant trading. Also, you need to do a better job sounding like you are actually interested in quant trading- thats not apparent at all from your post, and I think headhunters and interviewers would pick up the same vibe if you communicate similarly.

Also as mentioned above, aim for second tier seats (ex: small hedge funds, startup quant divisions in non-quant funds, first-time pms are reputable funds that bear substantial blow-up risk). These are more realistic for now, and you can then lateral to a better role after crossing the boundary into alpha quant.

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Jan 11, 2022 - 10:27pm

I'm surprised you haven't received any interviews. The market even 6 mths ago was very hot and a lot of hedge funds were expanding. How many applications have you made? You may want to consider writing a more targeted resume. Also you mention you worked primarily as an execution quant- this can mean many things. It does sound like though its more geared towards post-trade analysis looking at how efficiently you are executing your firm's trades. If you can pick up C++ it can be a good transition to market-making low-latency infrastructure.

One final point, is that even though you may not be researching strategies, the fact that you are building them out should provide plenty of ideas for you on how to build alpha signals.

Jan 14, 2022 - 5:53am

It does sound like though its more geared towards post-trade analysis looking at how efficiently you are executing your firm's trades.

Yeah it's a lot of this basically, we're also starting to work on some pre-trade stuff as well (order routing etc).

I  get a lot of interest from risk and vanilla analytics roles but not much from the quant space.

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Jan 15, 2022 - 1:59am

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