Fresh CS Ph.D. Offers: BB S&T vs. Prop vs. Silicon Valley

tomfeyl's picture
Rank: Chimp | 4

I'm a fresh CS Ph.D. from a top 5. I have three offers:

1) BB S&T quant. Not as a desk strategist, but on a longer-term modeling group that supports traders and desk strats. Offer is $105 base + $45 sign-on + variable annual bonus (no guaranteed minimum).
2) Stat arb at a top-10 prop shop. On a small team of a couple Ph.D.s and a manager. Offer is $80 + variable annual bonus (guaranteed minimum $40).
3) Modeling at a large Silicon Valley tech firm. Best offer is $190 annual + $50 sign-on. The $190 is $140 base + RSU package worth $50 annually at current valuations.

Any obvious conclusions? Things that matter most to me:

1) Total comp over short, medium and long haul.
2) Work hours.

Any thoughts on how the three options stack up along these dimensions? The BB and prop higher-ups are tight-lipped on bonus expectations. I've seen plenty of numbers on WSO, but none specifically for quants, and I'm guessing they're lower. I tried asking about bonuses on the popular quant forums online but got voted off the island quickly.

Comments (17)

Jun 18, 2011

not another quant guy......

shrugs

whatever

The world will learn

Obviously each offer is getting you paid so just do the one you want to do the most.

The one who does not fall, does not stand up

Jun 18, 2011

LOL -- guess I haven't learned! I'm aware WSO isn't for quants. I tried this on a popular Internet forum geared towards quants, but they downvoted me quickly and eventually deleted my post. I see a lot more hard numbers on WSO, so I thought I'd give it a go here.

Jun 18, 2011

^lmao

congrats on the offers.

Have a friend in BB quant and a friend in a prop shop...

BB S&T expect 55-70 hour weeks maybe more/less with weekends...

My buddy is a 2nd year at a well known prop shop, works 9am-4pm M-F no weekends does something like 95K base with 100%-200% bonus

just my $0.02

Jun 18, 2011

Go to Silicon Valley. I don't need any more competition.

Jun 18, 2011

oh yeah I was just curious...can you elaborate on the position at Silicon Valley...modeling at large tech firm? sounds more interesting and less risky than the first 2

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Jun 18, 2011

Thanks oldmansacks! The tech company is a large Internet site and the work involves algorithms for ranking search results, targeting ads, revenue-optimizing various parameters of the site, etc.. This was my best of three SV offers -- the two I turned down were $190 total without a sign-on, and $170 total + $10 sign-on.

You gave me a good idea of BB hours -- those are certainly more than tech. Any idea on whether the bonuses would make it worth it? What's a reasonable expectation as a % of base? Remember: non-desk quant, S&T, BB, doing models to support the desk strats and traders. They're not divulging any historicals or averages, but claim that over the long haul I'll make more there than in tech. Still, the immediate gap makes me wonder if the break-even isn't 5 or 10 years out.

Jun 18, 2011
tomfeyl:

Thanks oldmansacks! The tech company is a large Internet site and the work involves algorithms for ranking search results, targeting ads, revenue-optimizing various parameters of the site, etc.. This was my best of three SV offers -- the two I turned down were $190 total without a sign-on, and $170 total + $10 sign-on.

You gave me a good idea of BB hours -- those are certainly more than tech. Any idea on whether the bonuses would make it worth it? What's a reasonable expectation as a % of base? Remember: non-desk quant, S&T, BB, doing models to support the desk strats and traders. They're not divulging any historicals or averages, but claim that over the long haul I'll make more there than in tech. Still, the immediate gap makes me wonder if the break-even isn't 5 or 10 years out.

Dude, take number 3. Tech work is so much more interesting than the crap you would be doing in S&T.

I am not cocky, I am confident, and when you tell me I am the best it is a compliment.
-Styles P

Jun 18, 2011

Have you checked out quantnet.com? Andy Nguyen gives good advice. Best not to discuss comp directly,

Statistical arbitrage at a prop shop is probably going to give you the opportunity to add more insight to trade decisions. It's also going to offer less job stability. All depends on what you are looking for.

Jun 18, 2011

Dude, have you worked in S&T before? With your education, the work may not be that interesting. I know a guy who uses his Ph. D. in computational biology to fill in excel sheets at DE Shaw. I know another who does fairly simple database management stuff at a BB.

I would go with offer number 3.

I am not cocky, I am confident, and when you tell me I am the best it is a compliment.
-Styles P

Jun 18, 2011

i vote for #3 hands down.

Jun 18, 2011

Absolutely depends on what he wants to do. Lots of tech work is incredibly boring as well.

Grass isn't always greener like some people make it seem. The decision is simple: 10 years out where do you see yourself?

Jun 18, 2011

I am utterly not qualified to give you advice, but cmon man, you don't want to become a fucking finance jockey. Take that gig out West. Make money and enjoy life.

Jun 20, 2011

240k all in starting in California? Take it, that's more than enough to live very well.

Jun 20, 2011

i'm someone who has no interest in tech or startups, but even for me, #3 seems like the obvious choice. Great pay, interesting work, and you get to live in california. Stat arb at a prop shop is incredibly boring, same with BB S&T quant where you're just supporting traders and strategists rather than trading yourself. Now, if the offer was say from a quant hedge fund like citadel or AQR, then it would be a tougher call.

Jun 20, 2011
tomfeyl:

...

(1) This offer doesn't sound too great/interesting.
(2) Highest long-term comp potential (by far) and longest work hours, but can be incredibly interesting for the right role (research/trading). Although not one of your criteria, this is also the best pedigree choice for your career.
(3) Reasonable but long-term comp here is limited. You'll have little to no influence on the performance of the firm (and your RSUs), and you won't be making much more money five years down the line. California ain't cheap btw.

IMO the choice is between 2 and 3. Unless you have obligations (family, etc.), I'd try out #2.

Jun 20, 2011

I think if you go with 1/2, you'll probably have the option to go to 3 if you don't like your choice. I don't think the converse is true.

Jun 22, 2011
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