Ideal product type for non-quants

Ok, just curious what other people think is the ideal product type for non-quants-- complex enough that the market isn't a commodity, that there are some barriers to trade the product, but simple enough that you can be a model user, not a modeler, and still excel in the field.

I think making markets or trading in stocks and commodities is just high frequency video gaming, but I've never done it. I've traded vanilla options on equities and commodities, which is definitely fairly interesting. However, vanilla options have become much more liquid and commodified over the last 5-10 years, and quants are driving a lot of the arbitrage and even market-making strategies now. Fewer trader-brains are needed on the front end.

Anybody want to chime in? Anybody know how debt and debt options trade? Convertibles? Credit derivatives? etc. I'm really curious about what the most profitable and complex product you can trade is without being a quant-jock.

Comments (5)

Feb 5, 2009


John Wikowski

Feb 6, 2009

cash equities, not equity derivs

Mar 22, 2009

The liquid exchange stuff (FX, equities) are more and more on the systematic side (ie, quants). The more complex OTC stuff (equities, commodities, EM, credit and rates) also being taken over by quants.

Less complex, I can think of plain vanilla rates and HY & flow credit.

What I see more and more are the traders/quants doing the fancy stuff, with quals doing the client facing bit. The best opportunities are for those who can navigate both ends, that is, the 7-figure sales engineers who understand the quant but have superb client facing skills.

Mar 5, 2011

Equity derivatives, commodity futures and bond futures are all pretty simple.

Hell, the majority of futures are pretty simple from a mathematical standpoint.

Apr 11, 2014