Quant to Discretionary?

Working as a quant and programming mindlessly for a signal has made me realize I want to be a subject/market expert because I miss having context to my work. 

However, given that discretionary guys have more stress and having a programming background is a safe career in an AI-driven world. I'm not sure if I'm having a "grass is greener moment"

Has anyone moved from quant to discretionary? Any regrets, etc?

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Comments (15)

  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
May 25, 2021 - 8:49pm

Have you looked at places that are closer to a hybrid ("quantamental")? Seems like you can continue using some of your strengths in programming, etc and start learning about the more fundamental aspects of investing. Now, this isn't discretionary, but may be a good way to test the waters and start making a move in that direction. 

  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
May 27, 2021 - 5:41pm

Hard to find a lot of the smaller groups that do this. And also (as I mentioned in another comment on this thread) some quantamental places split the job, and so the "quant" becomes basically an assistant to the investor. You want a place that'll invest in you and teach you both sides (you bring the quant expertise they teach you how to think about the markets). 

As for what shops do quantamental, basically all the big ones do (or claim they do), so citadel, DE Shaw, etc. But you really need to talk to the people at these funds to figure out how some of those groups actually work to make sure you'll get what you are looking for. 

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  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
May 25, 2021 - 8:53pm

all i have to say is that it's good that you are considering making this move relatively early on in your career. As making the jump in your early 40's while still maintaining seniority would be impossible (for 99% of people). 

  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
May 26, 2021 - 6:42pm

Try to break into a quantamental team as a data scientist. The technical skillset is too valuable to throw away, and hedge fund analysts are viewed as a commodity resource. I've seen plenty of talented fundamental analysts flame out for reasons beyond their control. I don't think the risk/reward tradeoff is favorable there.

The key question for you to answer for yourself is whether or not you have a business-oriented mindset already. The PMs I know (at both single-manager and multi-manager shops) don't want to hire people for data science roles that can't communicate results clearly or reason about what drives business value. If you are a strong programmer but still need to develop your soft skills and finance knowledge, I would recommend joining a single manager's data science group as a data engineer, picking up the business side via osmosis, and transitioning down the road to a data science role (where you are actually building models, running analyses, and delivering results). I have seen multiple people successfully make this transition.

I have worked in discretionary, quantamental, and pure quant roles throughout my career, and I've enjoyed the quantamental role the most. It's fast-paced, you get to work on interesting problems, and you generate immediate business value.

  • Prospect in HF - Other
May 27, 2021 - 7:02am

What is the pay like for a quantamental analyst/data scientist in a fundamental/discretionary hedge fund when compared to the pay of the actual investment team? How are these teams valued relative to the investment team?

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