Math PhD hedge fund role



I currently work as a quant for a small L/S hedge fund in Europe for a couple of years, after completing a mathematical PhD in stochastic modelling. Although I am currently happy with my current position and salary, I feel that personal and salary growth opportunities are limited in the longer run.

Ideally I would like to work for a hedge fund, where a fair amount of colleagues will have a similar background as I do (Msc/Phd in math, physics, etc). I like to work with people who are curious and intrinsically motivated to understand things around them (could be specific financial data sets, understanding prices moves, general economy, whatever). I would like colleagues who are open minded towards new ideas, even though they are not familiar with it. I would like to work for a fund where raising assets (and earning performance fee) is not the main driver, but where achieving top results by deep understanding and excellent execution is the key (the money will follow). Ideally the hedge fund has a ton of data sets readily available to do research on and has a long term view when it comes to way the company is run.

After graduating from my PhD, I've done one interview assignment at G-Research, which I somehow screwed up (I was put in a room without a clock and ran out of time on an exercise which was actually a special case of a theorem in my PhD thesis... geez!). Let me say that the material was definitely not to hard (actually quite easy for the most part), but the nerves got to me and the circumstances were not ideal. I really regret wasting this opportunity.

My question is: how do I find my ideal job? Where in Europe are interesting jobs like this? How do I get in touch? Are there any companies (potentially like G-Research) where I would be considered as an interesting candidate? I have a strong understanding of probability/statistics, with good real world intuition, I can code pretty well and I'm highly motivated to be the best.

Comments (26)

Jul 18, 2020 - 4:09pm

There are many hedge funds that I think would be interested. I think you would probably find better advice/discussion on quantnet or nuclearphynance (two forums more geared towards quantitative finance).

Jul 20, 2020 - 1:17pm

I know a guy with more than 1Y non-compete....yeah. AFAIK, he got reimbursed well for not working from GR. Do you know if the non-compete is paid? As in, I get that they ask you to not work for 1-2 years but do they pay you during this period? Even if they do, it's still a really bad deal. Imagine sitting at home for 1 year not being allowed to work.

Jul 21, 2020 - 3:48am

The companies you are looking for definitely exist, so don't be disheartened. My advice would be:

1) Get yourself on LinkedIn, with a profile that is going to show up in searches. So make sure your quant skills, work and education features prominently. I'd be surprised if you're not getting DMs from headhunters after this unless you're really in the wrong network. People with your background are in demand so headhunters are constantly trawling LinkedIn for relevant profiles.

2) Try to network a bit. I don't know if you already do this but it might be worth spending some time with the traders at your firm, with a view to building a relationship with their brokers. Make up some excuse about wanting to analyse intraday data or something. The brokers/banks can be a very good resource in hunting for a job, as they will speak to a wide range of clients. I would say try to tag along to some events but not sure how viable this is during lockdown.

3) Although online applications are generally quite ineffective, you can get lucky. So it's worth shooting off your CV to some of the bigger firms. Cast the net wide - I would suggest you look at some of the prop/high frequency firms as they might be a better cultural fit than hedge funds. Some names: Citadel, Optiver, Flow traders, DRW, SIG, Jane Street, Jump Trading, Tower Research, IMC. I'd be surprised if you don't get any interviews from online applications to all these firms.

I don't see why you wouldn't have at least an offer within 3 months of the above approach.

Jul 21, 2020 - 3:12pm

Thanks, those are some useful suggestions.

Why do you think that prop/HF is a better cultural fit than hedge funds? So far I've focused mostly on hedge funds / asset managers. I've heard that trading firms tend to hire dozens of people every year and then they offer a contract to only a one or two lucky people who happened to perform best in their first year. I am not sure how much truth there is to that though.

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